Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that moves individual hair follicles from a part of the body called the 'donor site' to bald part known as the 'recipient site'. It is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness. In this minimally invasive procedure, grafts containing hair follicles that are genetically resistant to balding are transplanted to the bald scalp. It can also be used to restore eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, chest hair, pubic hair and to fill in scars caused by accidents or surgery such as face-lifts and previous hair transplants.
Since hair naturally grows in groupings of 1 to 4 hairs, today’s most advanced techniques harvest and transplant these naturally occurring 1–4 hair "follicular units" in their natural groupings. Thus modern hair transplantation can achieve a natural appearance by mimicking nature hair for hair. This hair transplant procedure is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
A strip of scalp tissue is removed under local anesthesia, being the wound then sutured back by the surgeon leaving an almost imperceptible scar. The donor tissue is then cut in small pieces called grafts that are then transplanted to the recipient site. The recovery period is around 2 weeks after which sutures are removed.
Another system for follicular unit harvest is performed removing single follicular units containing 1 to 4 hairs with the use of tiny punches. In this manner, the long scar of FUT is avoided, and the convalescence period is shorter. However, this method leads to a lower ratio of successfully transplanted follicles as compared to strip harvesting, being only a secondary method.
Surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, with mild sedation (optional) and injected local anesthesia, which typically last about six hours.
During convalescence the use of semi-permeable dressing, which allow seepage of blood and tissue fluid, to be applied and changed at least daily. Shampooing is started two days after the surgery.
During the first ten days, virtually all of the transplanted hairs, inevitably traumatized by their relocation, will fall out ("shock loss"). After two to three months new hair will begin to grow from the moved follicles. The patient's hair will grow normally, and continue to thicken through the next six to nine months.
Recently the beneficial effects of growth factors and adult stem cells have been established as an alternative to potentiate hair growth.