Are Hair Transplants Actually as Scary as they Look?
Dr. Serkan Aygin breaks down everything you need to know regarding how hair transplants work, the different methods for hair transplants and de-bunks hair transplant myths…
We’ve all seen hair transplant before-and-after photos taking the internet by storm. In an era where cosmetic surgery is being normalised, people are finding it easier to open their minds to a far less invasive hair transplant. As a doctor with over 23 years of experience in hair transplantation in Turkey, I’m always surprised when a new patient comes into my clinic and their first question is something along the lines of “so, is it true the procedure will involve removing a chunk of my skin?”
Like with all new trends, there are a number of myths about hair transplants plastered all over the internet, as well as a huge lack of information that would likely put people who are considering treatment, at ease. My hope is that this article will help to debunk some of these myths once and for all.
Who is considered a “good candidate” for hair transplantation?
Although it sounds too good to be true, hair transplantation is the only real permanent solution for hair loss. By nature, hair transplants are permanent because hair follicles are extracted from “safe donor areas”, which refers to areas on the head that are genetically resistant to balding, then implanted back into balding areas.
So naturally hair transplantation is the perfect solution for anyone suffering from pregnancy hair loss, male-pattern baldness, a receding hairline, alopecia, general thinning, as well as those interested in a beard transplant. Apart from these, individuals who have scars or have lost hair due to various kinds of hair diseases can also safely undergo a hair transplant surgery.
So what does a hair transplant actually entail? What does the process look like?
Contrary to popular belief, no chunks of skin are removed from the scalp during the procedure. The surgery is non-invasive and is considered microsurgical – this means the surgeon uses a microscope and microscopic instruments to perform the procedure. Here’s a simple 7 step guide to how hair transplants work from start to finish:
This is the stage where your doctor should inspect your hair loss and suggest the best type of surgery to stop it. From there, the doctor can develop the patient’s operation plan and create the desired end hairline design.
Next, the surgeon will sterilise the operation site and apply any local anaesthetics to reduce pain during the procedure. At the Dr. Serkan Aygin Clinic, we introduced the Soft FUE method where transplantation is performed under soft sedation, and is thus completely painless.
This is the process of extracting hair grafts from the donor area of the patient. So, a doctor and his team would extract hair follicles from healthy parts of the head that are genetically resistant to balding. There are multiple ways in which this can be done – I’ll get into this further below.
4. Recipient Site Creation:
Next the surgeon will create the areas in which the extracted hair grafts will be implanted.
This is the process of placing the grafts in recipient sites (balding areas). The surgeon should do this following the natural direction of hair growth in these areas as to achieve the most natural results possible.
6. Post-operative Processes:
Hair transplantation is complete! At this point it’s time to dress the transplanted site appropriately and perform PRP laser therapy to speed up the healing process.
7. Post-operative Care & Hair Wash:
Lastly, the patient must use a specialised hair wash for 15 days post-operation. Both the donor and the transplanted area will be sensitive during this period, so it is important to carry out the washing process with extra care.
What are FUE hair transplants and what are the differences between this and other methods?
So the idea of “removing a chunk of the skin” for hair transplants isn’t completely a myth. Hair transplants were conducted with the FUT (follicular unit transplantation) technique during the nineties, where the surgeon would remove a strip of donor skin from which to extract individual follicular units to be transferred to the areas of hair loss.
This method was replaced by the FUE method in the early 2000s, where instead individual follicular units are excised directly from the scalp. Today, the FUE (follicular unit extraction) technique continues to be regarded as the gold standard of hair transplant surgery.
The main difference with the FUE technique is that it leaves no scars and it has a faster recovery time. This technique can be performed with a number of different instruments, which means the technique now has a few name variations. For example, at the Dr. Serkan Aygin Clinic we perform the following variations of FUE:
- Classic FUE (using micro motors)
- DHI technique (FUE performed with Choi implanters)
- Sapphire FUE (FUE performed with Sapphire blades)
- Soft FUE (hair transplantation under soft sedation)
Each variation has its unique advantages, for example transplantations using the Sapphire FUE method tend to heal faster and leave a barely visible scar. This is because the incisions are made using blades that are made from especially smooth sapphire crystals.
The DHI Implantation Method/Choi Implanter Pen
Unlike the FUE method, during the DHI (direct hair implantation) method, site creation and graft implantation are performed simultaneously, i.e. extraction and implantation are combined as part of a one or two step process, embedding the extracted hair follicles directly into any balding areas without the need to create channel incisions in the donor area. The operation is performed using an implanter (choi) pen that features a hollow needle connected to a tub and plunger device. This is why the DHI procedure is also referred to as the Choi method.
Does my hair loss type affect the transplantation method my surgeon should use for my treatment?
Ultimately, any method of transplantation can be performed on a patient, regardless of the type of hair loss they are experiencing. The method used for hair transplantation depends entirely on things like the patient’s desired results, budget, comfort with needles etc. For example, we know that a Sapphire FUE transplantation will leave fewer scars and have shorter recovery times, so a patient who is worried about obvious scarring on their hairline might want to opt for this.
There are however things that may affect areas from which grafts should be extracted. The most ideal situation is for grafts to be extracted from the back of the head and from the beard area, as the hairs in these areas most resemble the hair that grows naturally on the head. In cases where these two areas don’t provide a sufficient number of grafts for full coverage, some surgeons will opt to source follicles from the body (e.g. chest hair). This is not a technique we endorse at the Dr. Serkan Aygin Clinic; this is because the active phase of the body hair growth cycle is much shorter, and thus even at its longest, body hair grows shorter than hair on the head. This makes it likely that once implanted, these hairs will be detectable from the strands that grow naturally from the scalp.
Your surgeon’s primary goal should be to ensure that your results look as natural as possible, and unfortunately you won’t necessarily know what your hair transplant final results will look like until up to 12 months post-op.
I always advise that the most important thing is to make sure your chosen surgeon has the required experience to give you the new luscious locs you deserve! If you are ever in doubt, feel free to contact me directly with any questions (no strings attached).
My priority is to help remove the stigma attached to cheaper hair transplants in Turkey until it is eventually overshadowed by the great surgeons doing fantastic work over here.