A head full of thick luscious hair is the dream of so many. In today’s modern world, when science has developed so much, people have started to rely less on wigs or hairpieces and more on hair transplants. Hair transplant seems to offer a more permanent solution. It also looks very natural and thick compared to a wig. It is challenging for anybody to recognize if you have undergone a hair transplant.
The latest buzzword in health and fitness is hair transplants. You can see many people opting for this procedure. This facility is provided everywhere, including in India. There are many clinics opened for this purpose, and you can find them very quickly. From ordinary people to celebrities, everyone is jumping on the hair transplant bandwagon, making you wonder what is a hair transplant and are there many types of hair transplants?
The different types of hair transplant
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure conducted by a dermatological surgeon or a plastic surgeon who moves the hair to a bald area or thinning area on your head. The hair is usually moved from the back or side of the head to the front and top, where thinning and baldness usually begin. Hair transplants are done under local anesthesia in a medical clinic or medical office.
There are two different types of hair transplants. Slit grafts and micro grafts. Slit grafts differ from micro grafts depending on the coverage needed, and it contains 4-10 hair per graft, whereas the micrograft includes 1-2 hair per graft.
FUE stands for follicular unit extraction. Here, hair follicles are cut from the back of your head through many tiny punch incisions. On the thinning or bald region, the surgeon makes many small holes with a blade or needle and then places the hair in these holes gently.
During one session, a surgeon may transplant thousands of these hairs. After this, the graft will cover your scalp in bandages or gauze for several days. A single session of hair transplant can last up to 4 hours or more. Your stitches might be removed 10days after your surgery. To achieve the look, you desire a single session might not be enough, and you may need 3- 4 sessions spanning several months.
Side effects of FUE hair transplant
The most common side effect of hair transplant (FUE) is scarring. It cannot be avoided under any circumstance, and it affects all types of hair transplants.
Other side effects include:
- Pus formation
- Crusts around surgical sites
- Scalp pain
- Inflammation of the hair follicles, also called folliculitis
- Loss of sensation around the surgical sites
- Continual loss of hair
Medicines like Minoxidil and Propecia, usually given to hair transplant patients, also have side effects that result in an irritated scalp, dizziness, chest pain, headaches, irregular heart rate, and hand or foot swelling.
The advantage of hair transplant is that the grafted hair is taken from the patient itself. But this is also a disadvantage because if the quality of the donor site on the patient’s head is not good and has weak follicles, then the transplanted hair will also be thin and weak and won’t grow well.
Side effects of hair transplant in India
In India, too, people who have undergone hair transplants have experienced many side effects. The first and foremost side effect of hair transplant is scarring, which will remain no matter how good the surgeon is. Scarring can happen at the donor area as well as the area of the transplant. The scarring becomes visible and pronounced if your hair doesn’t grow long enough to cover it.
Sometimes, despite surgeons’ care, your surgical sites may get affected, further complicating the situation. Coupled with excess bleeding and infection, it will further exacerbate your condition leading to more complications. There will always be some pain and swelling in the area. The doctor might prescribe you some pain killers but expect some pain and swelling until it completely heals.
One of the side effects to look out for is itchiness. Though itchiness is a natural response from the body when it is healing, it will still cause a lot of discomfort and the impulse to scratch your head. It might lead your newly transplanted hair follicles that are fragile to get dislodged. For your time reference, the newly planted hair follicles are not secure until 4-12 days after the hair transplant. Itching is also concerning because scratching your head can promote dirt and bacteria on your surgical site harming the health and growth of the delicate hair follicles.
Eye bruises have become familiar with hair transplant surgeries. When the scalp swells after the procedure, fluid formation in the scalp flows down near the eye, making the eye look black or bruised. There is bruising around the forehead and cheeks due to swelling and the fluid formation that trickles down to various areas of the face.
The recovery from a hair transplant doesn’t happen overnight. It takes nearly 8-10 months for complete healing, so it is very much time-bound.
Also, keep in mind that this is an invasive surgery. Despite being performed under local anesthesia, let it not fool you into thinking it is a simple procedure like a bloodless surgery. Hospitalization may not be necessary for this procedure, but that does not mean the recovery time is fast and short.
The long term side effects of hair transplant
Many long-term side effects exist for hair transplant surgeries. Scalp laxity is the ability of the cells and tissues in your scalp to recover from injury and trauma. But one of the long-term effects could be that your scalp loses laxity and causes some of the newly transplanted hair to fall out. It also makes the appearance of scars more prominent over time.
Another most detrimental side effect is hair curl. When the extraction occurs, the hair follicles get damaged, and the same hair follicles get transplanted into the new surgical site. Once it is attached and the incision has healed, instead of growing, the new hair will begin to curl under the skin leading to inbound hair. It results in ingrown hair on the scalp. It ultimately makes the hair graft look sparse and unnatural, defeating the purpose of the hair transplant surgery.
A hair transplant’s less apparent long-term side effect is that the newly grafted hair will thin with time. It’s not going to stay vibrant and young forever. So, you are bound to lose your crowning glory at some point and will not be able to beat male/ female pattern baldness. Androgenic Alopecia is an irreversible disorder that naturally progresses with time. Hair transplant surgery is not the answer to it because even newly transplanted hair will thin with time. Also, if your condition is genetic and you undergo this treatment early, your hair loss will continue even after your surgery.
Side effects of hair transplant surgery
Sometimes the new hair grafts fail to grow in the recipient area. Even after a couple of months, there will be no progress in the recipient area. It means the hair transplant surgery has failed, and the new hair grafts haven’t taken root in the recipient site of the head leading you to undergo this expensive procedure all over again from scratch.
There is no guarantee that you will get lustrous, beautiful hair on the transplanted site. It all depends on the density of hair follicles in the transplanted zone. If the hair transplants aren’t dense enough, they will not grow into thick hair, giving a sparse look to your scalp. It also depends on your hair quality from the donor site.
If you don’t take medications or undergo low-level laser therapy, you may experience hair loss in the non-treated areas of your scalp. Also, you need to shell out money for the hair maintenance that you will need to do regularly after your hair transplant surgery. The hair transplant surgery might not end all your woes but instead, open gates to further expensive medical procedures.
Hair transplants have a failure rate between 10% and 90%. There is no guarantee that all your newly grafted hair follicles will grow. Even a well-oiled team of doctors and medical professionals can transplant up to 3000 hair follicles in a single session, but patients require much more than that to produce successful results.
If you haven’t treated the underlying cause behind your hair loss, your hair recession will continue even after hair transplant surgery. It leads to a weird situation where baldness separates between the transplanted hair and your natural hair. It will prompt you to shave your head altogether or seek another hair transplant surgery with no guarantee.
The final takeaway
Not all candidates are eligible for hair transplant surgery. You need to have generally good health without any diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. You first need to understand the cause behind your receding hair, and if it is genetic, there is not much you can do because even the transplanted hair will thin and fall out with time.
The quality of your hair also matters a lot. If your hair is not strong or of subpar quality at the back of your head, the doctor might reject performing this surgery. Also, there is no guarantee this surgery will work successfully, but you can be assured of the scarring if you undergo this surgery. There is also the need to follow up after surgeries to maintain the hair.
This particular medical procedure doesn’t qualify for insurance. So, you will have to pay for it from your pocket. This procedure is quite expensive, and the doctor charges you based on the number of grafts transplanted per session. You can also not return to your everyday life immediately as your scalp will still be healing. Exercise and other forms of strenuous activities need to be avoided for a minimum of 2 weeks. You may need to wait for several weeks before washing your hair.
People with keloidal tendency where the scars turn thick and rise from the operated areas cannot make good candidates for this procedure. As scarring is inevitable in this procedure, your spots will stand out more than the newly transplanted hair, defeating this surgery’s purpose.