Going bald or dealing with a receding hair line is something that most men, and some women, have feared for a long time. And, for a very long time, there wasn't very much that a plastic surgeon could do about it. However, procedures to reverse hair loss have gotten increasingly effective, developed, and natural looking in recent years. There are now several procedures that can easily restore a hair line to its former glory and prevent the dreaded "Mr. Clean" look from becoming a permanent fixture. Here's what potential patients need to know.
While hair restoration surgeries are most commonly associated with those who are going bald via frontal or crown hair loss, that's actually not the only time when a procedure makes sense. It's certainly the most common, and it will likely continue to be for quite some time to come, but there's a very wide market for the kinds of surgeries which restore and reshape hairlines and reduce the visibility of injuries.
One of the leaden uses for hair transplant surgeries is actually to replace the damage done by injuries and scars on the scalp. Most people might not be aware that this is a common occurrence, but things like sports injuries to the head can actually cause hair to stop growing in a specific area. If it's a particularly large injury, the damage can be quite severe and noticeable. A simple surgical procedure can reverse this and return the scalp to its otherwise normal appearance.
Hair restoration surgery is also a great way to stop the thinning of the hair, even if a patient is not going bald. This is often a problem among women who, while they will never go bald, do experience thinning hair after a certain age. Though this might be considered by some people to be less of a big deal than outright baldness, it's often a point of insecurity and stress among many clients with constant thinning of the hair.
Finally, hair restoration therapy is a great way to actually reshape or restore the presence of a hairline itself. In many cases, this might be done in conjunction with a surgery that eliminates baldness, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, for whatever reason, many patients simply want a more symmetrical or natural hairline. That's where hair restoration therapy comes in.
The most common method of hair restoration is known as the "strip method." The procedure itself is minimally invasive, and involves excising a strip of the scalp from the back of the head. That section is then divided into follicular units and grafts. After that process (called follicular unit grafting) is complete, those individual units are then transplanted into bald areas of the scalp. This is how hairlines are re-shaped, and it's how "ring" baldness is conquered. Essentially, these follicular units become the person's new hair, and they fill in any areas where hair is no longer growing naturally.
Beyond this, some patients actually prefer a newer and much more advanced method of hair replacement. Known as a Follicular Unit Extraction, or Automated Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE or AFUE) the process involves actually using a high-pressure pneumatic system to extract hair follicles from the scalp instead of using a "strip." The major benefit to choosing this newer method is that it prevents the common scarring that many people develop after they've had a strip extracted during the earlier method. It's far less aesthetically invasive, and that's a really big benefit for a lot of hair restoration patients.
The good news is that both procedures are covered by local anesthesia to reduce pain and make the transplant as minimally painful as possible. Dr. Choe has extensive hair restoration and facial plastic surgery experience and understands that the key to a successful procedure is both aesthetic results and minimal pain; for this reason, local anesthesia is used to numb the scalp when using either the "strip" transplant method or the Follicular Unit Extraction method that an increasing number of patients are beginning to prefer. It all results in a quick, painless surgery and a hairline worth showing off.
Most patients aren't prepared for the long list of effects and restrictions that come as a result of hair restoration therapy. That's not to say they're severe or particularly unsightly, but there are certainly a longer list of things to avoid and maintain afterward than most people are expecting. Dr. Choe typically recommends his patients avoid the following things immediately after their surgery:
- Water on the scalp during showers should be avoided
- No shampoo for the first six days after the surgery, and only baby shampoo for several weeks thereafter
- No hair products, including gels or sprays, and no hair dryers, for a week
- No hats for one week
- No picking, scratching, or rubbing of the scabs formed on the scalp at any time
- Patients should not go to work for 2-3 days after the surgery
- Strenuous activities should be avoided for between seven and ten days after the procedure
This recovery is pretty important, and Dr. Choe urges all of his patents to err on the side of caution when it comes to things like working, strenuous activities, shampoos, and hair products. When in doubt, simply don't use them and avoid the potential for complications or infections. It's always better to be safe and have a little less style than it is to be sorry and end up back in the office for complications.
Those patents who choose the FUE method of hair restoration will not need to come back to the office to have any stitches removed, as there simply aren't any. Those who opt for the "strip" method will need to return to the office ten days after the surgery so that Dr. Choe can remove stitches and complete the process. The surgery will result in the shedding of the follicles after this point, with hair growth and results showing up between 8 and 10 months after the surgery. If a second procedure is needed, patents will need to wait between eight months and one year from their original procedure in order to be eligible.
After the recovery has fully finished and the hair has begun to grow in like normal, there is really nothing else to do except pick a great hairstyle and get acquainted (or, indeed, re-acquainted) with a local hair stylist!