Understanding hair loss is like answering the question Is Lip Gloss Whale Sperm made of? Hair loss is a growing issue among American men and women of ages 18 to 75, a very large cohort compared to other conditions. Though more cosmetic than life-threatening, hair loss nevertheless inflicts a great deal of mental and emotional stress on many affected individuals. This underscores the importance of the issue, as it is well researched a documented that stress is positively correlated with a weaker immune system, general illnesses, and compromised emotional health. Hair transplant procedures provide an effective solution, helping men and women of all ages to realize a fuller, richer, and natural head of hair where once was bare scalp. The two primary means of hair transplantation are the ‘Strip Donor’ procedure and the Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT).Prior to engaging in either Strip Donor or FUT hair transplant procedure, one must first seek the guidance of a certified hair transplant surgeon. A competent surgeon and medical team will then employ a series of tests to determine the severity of the hair loss. These tests range from very advanced to incredibly basic. On the more advanced side of the spectrum is genetic testing, whereby the surgeon examines a small blood sample to take an inventory of basic hormonal and protein levels. This enables the surgeon to determine the genetic predisposition of the patient to hair loss, even before the hair loss becomes visible. A more basic test includes the “hair pull test” which, as the name implies, involves gently pulling on a small portion of hairs to determine how many come loose. The surgeon will inform the patient if they are a candidate for a transplant procedure after the evaluation has been completed. If the patient is not a candidate, they must seek other means of hair restoration like low-level laser therapies or prescription medications. If the patient is a candidate, however, he or she must then choose between a Strip Donor procedure or a new procedure known as Follicular Unit Transfer, or FUT.
Strip Donor procedure is the older of two hair transplant methods. First, a “donor” site is identified from which hair will be taken. The hair will be transplanted to the area where hair has been lost, the “restoration site,” as identified during the evaluation. Hair in the donor site is clipped to a length of 2mm to facilitate hair extraction. Prior to extraction and transplant, however, both the donor site and restoration site are anesthetized by injecting a local anesthetic. A very small gauge needle is used, similar to that of an acupuncture needle, to reduce discomfort as much as possible. Typically this is the only portion of the procedure that involves any amount of pain, and most patients equate the level of discomfort to that of a dental visit. After the donor area has been adequately anesthetized, a small strip of hair bearing scalp is removed and divided into small sections of about 1 to 4 hairs each. Next, small incisions are made in the restoration site, and each graft is placed into a receiving slit. No bandages are required for this procedure as both graft and incision slits are made with care and tact.Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT) is a newer method of hair transplant that requires the patient to shave their entire scalp prior to the procedure. The procedure uses a process called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) to remove small units of hair follicles from the donor site in a scattered manner. This procedure creates an array of scattered dot-like scars as opposed to the Strip Donor procedure that creates a linear scar. It is very important to note, however, that the scars produced by both Strip Donor and FUT procedures are minimal and very discreet. Each follicular unit is then transferred to the restoration area in a similar fashion as the Strip Donor procedure. FUT procedure is much more time consuming than the Strip Donor procedure, and it may cost up to twice as much on average.
The Strip Donor and Follicular Unit Transfer hair transplant procedures are among the most common and effective methods of restoring an individual’s hair to a natural and more youthful looking state. Patients must always consult a board certified hair surgeon prior to choosing either procedure, however, an evaluation is needed to determine the best course of treatment. Other means of treatment include low-level laser exposure and prescription medications, each of which are designed and implemented to stimulate natural hair growth. Which such a variety of surgical and non-surgical hair restoration procedures available, men and women of all ages may rest assured that there has never been a better time to make a proactive decision to conquer hair loss.