Hair transplant or replacement is a complex procedure that involves removing a strip of scalp, harvesting hair follicles, and grafting the follicles onto bald spots of the scalp. Hair transplants are a permanent solution to hair loss. It uses the patient's own hair to increase fullness.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 15,778 hair transplants done in the United States in 2014.
Choosing Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant is a more natural and permanent solution to hair loss when compared to other alternatives, such as supplements, medications, creams, wigs, and prosthetic hair.
Patients may choose to have hair transplants or replacements to correct:
- Receding hairlines
- Bald spots
- Lack of beard or chest hair
- Hair loss that is the result of trauma
Hair transplant procedures are usually done on men because of male balding. Men typically develop bald spots or receding hairlines, whereas women tend to lose only the general fullness of their hair. Hair transplant and replacement is usually not indicated for loss of hair fullness.
The Hair Transplant Procedure
There are many varieties of hair transplant procedures. Most hair transplant procedures do not produce quick results and may take between 6 months and 2 years to achieve their intended result.
Typically, the procedure involves removing a strip of the scalp and using the existing hair follicles to reduce baldness.
In the procedure, the surgeon will numb the scalp and remove a 3-4 inch strip with a scalpel. The surrounding section of the scalp will be closed. The surgeon will then harvest hair follicles from the strip either in the form of individual hair follicles or in very small groups of hair follicles. Surgeons will prepare between 500 and 2,000 of these hair follicle grafts.
Next, the surgeons will prepare the patient's scalp and will transplant the hair follicle grafts into small holes or slits made in the scalp. Surgeons will usually place the grafts about an eighth of an inch apart, and may fill in gaps in additional, later sessions.
The procedure is lengthy; it takes between 4 and 10 hours to complete depending on the number of grafts harvested and used. The scalp will be very tender after the procedure and patients will be required to use pain medication and wear compression bandages for the first few days.
Patients can choose from a number of other hair transplant and hair replacement procedures. The American Hair Loss Association warns against choosing many of these alternatives for purely cosmetic reasons due to their potential complications.
One is a “flap surgery” procedure that relocates hair-bearing skin to the front of the scalp, but leaves a “knot” under the skin. Another is a scalp reduction procedure that removes parts of the balding top scalp to bring the hair bearing skin closer together, but it often results in further hair loss. A final option is a scalp expanding procedure that uses silicone balloons under the scalp to stretch the skin to allow for more dramatic scalp reductions.
Hair transplant or replacement procedures are complicated and lengthy. The cost for the procedure ranges from $4,000 to $10,000. Most health insurance companies do not cover elective cosmetic surgeries. Hence, patients usually pay for hair replacement surgery out of pocket.
Risks of Hair Transplants Procedures
- Hair loss or thinning of pre-existing hair
- Numbness and loss of sensation in skin
- Asymmetry in new hair growth
- Dissatisfaction with the results of the procedure
Doctors need to discuss all material risks with patients before the surgical procedure. It is also important for patients to discuss their goals with their doctors to ensure realistic expectations and to choose the correct procedure.
Malpractice Claims and Hair Transplant Procedures
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of a hair transplant or replacement, call Gilman & Bedigian today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Our Maryland malpractice attorneys work with medical professionals to review your case. We do not charge any fees until you get the compensation you deserve.