HAIR LOSS AND TRANSPLANTATION
Common causes for hair loss are genetics, traumatic styling, internal vitamin/mineral/hormone imbalances, and inflammatory diseases of the scalp that lead to permanent hair loss.
Hair restoration may be medical, procedural, or surgical. Historically, MEDICAL treatments have been used to treat hair loss. Minoxidil and finasteride are used for genetic hair loss. Topical corticosteroids, oral antibiotics, and scalp injections are used for styling related hair loss and inflammatory diseases. Replacement/correction of imbalances can correct metabolic causes for hair loss. Dr. Edwards will determine if any of these treatments are appropriate for you during your consultation.
Despite aggressive medical treatments, some people will need to consider procedural and surgical options. Low level laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment for genetic hairloss and some inflammatory diseases. It is available by several different methods of delivery, including a comb, a cap for mobile use, and a hood for in-office treatment.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a series of injections or your own plasma, rich in healing factors, into the scalp. It is commonly used in genetic hair loss but can also be used in scarring hair loss and some inflammatory diseases. PRP also has an option to include progenitor stem cells harvested from belly fat for more difficult cases.
Hair transplantation is an option for appropriate candidates requiring surgical treatment. Hair transplantation involves redistribution of existing hair from the back of the head, to affected areas where hair is thin.
The technique(s) that we use is called follicular unit transplant. With this method, the hair follicles are inserted into the scalp in groups no larger than how they naturally grow...groups of 1-4 hairs. We use microscope dissection to get grafts ready for insertion. Using the microscope allows us to very closely sliver and trim grafts with minimal damage. The smaller size of the grafts allows for smaller incisions, greater density, faster healing, and a more natural result. Hair transplantation is a permanent step, so you must have realistic expectations. You can never recapture the exact density of hair you once had. The illusion of density and improvement with natural results are the key goals. Depending on your diagnosis, transplant may do nothing to stop ongoing hair loss of the hairs native to the transplanted area, so you should consider a medical program to help prevent this from happening (e.g. minoxidil, finasteride, and/or other treatments you will discuss with Dr. Edwards).
Follicular unit transplant can be done as a traditional strip, or as follicular unit extraction. In follicular unit transplant, commonly known as strip surgery, the grafts are taken out as a single piece of skin, and all of the dissection is done after the excision. You will have an incision in the back of your scalp after the donor strip is removed. The resulting scar will be hidden by existing hair and is usually quite thin although there is variability from person to person. The length of the scar is determined by the size of the transplant as well as hair density and characteristics. Recipient incisions generally do not cause scarring because of the very small instruments used to make the sites.
Follicular unit extraction on the other hand removes the grafts in the natural 1-4 hair clusters, leaving very little dissection necessary after excision. Small round wounds are in the back of the scalp heal into very small, usually unnoticeable scars. People who wear their hair short often find this a more acceptable option.
Most people find the surgery to be surprisingly easy. Along with local anesthesia, you may be given sedatives to help make you as comfortable as possible. The amount of time the procedure takes is variable and largely depends on the number of grafts. It is best to plan on all day. We take as long as is necessary to make sure the job is done right. We also recommend that you not drive yourself home after the surgery if possible.
Healing is generally quite rapid after the transplant. For about a week you can expect to have a small amount of scabbing. At this point some of the hair shafts will begin to shed and go into a resting phase. Regrowth generally begins after four months but the final results can take up to twelve months to become fully apparent. Actual results will vary and expectations will be discussed during your consultation.