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Follicular Unit Hair Transplant: Medical Hair Restoration Technique Benefits Over Graft, Plug, Flap
The vast majority of males will develop some degree of hair thinning, most commonly as male pattern baldness. While topical hair loss solutions such as Rogaine and Propecia may slow or stop hair loss and even minimally regrow hair, these options are temporary and over time more costly than cosmetic hair restoration surgery.
Follicular Unit Transplant Advantages
Dr. Bobby L. Limmer, of the Department of Dermatology at University of Texas Health Science Center, says that follicular unit transplant is superior to other hair replacement techniques because:
• Follicular unit transplant preserves the way hair grows, in groupings of 1-4 follicles.
• Results appear natural even upon close examination.
• Multiple sessions can achieve suitable density.
• The method ensures that single session results mimic natural stages of hair loss.
• Patients aren’t forced into additional surgeries due to suboptimal results.
Hair Transplant Methods
With many hair loss restoration procedures, donor scalp sections of a various shape (round, square, triangle, oval, linear strip, flap) and size are excised from one portion of the scalp and inserted in another. Even when follicular groupings are preserved, the results are detectible patchy clumps of higher density hair. Acceptable results require multiple sessions and hair looks unnatural in the interim.
Follicular grafts are an improvement, but until recently follicles were placed individually throughout the donor area. While this does not look as bad as plugs, on close examination the difference from natural hair is apparent due to the absence of groupings of 1-4 follicles.
Follicular unit grafting is the only medical hair restoration technique preserving the natural groupings of hair and distributing the groupings naturally throughout the balding area. Distribution is essential, ensuring the hair transplantation is not marooned in a sea of baldness as hair loss progresses.
Follicular Unit Transplant Procedure
A flap of scalp is removed under local anesthetic from the back of your head, an area resistant to balding. According to Dr. Limmer, the width will range from 0.7-1.5 cm, depending on the number of desired grafts. Staples or sutures close the incision.
Hair groupings are microscopically dissected from the donor flap under binocular stereoscope and trimmed of bald tissue. The units are then inserted into the recipient area using a small slit, punch hole, or needle tunnel. Scalp is not removed from the bald area as this risks damage to the blood supply nourishing the new transplants.
You should expect significant postoperative swelling, but severe complications such as infection are rare. During the recovery and initial growth period, optimal results are achieved with concurrent use of topical hair loss prescriptions such as Propecia.
Hair Transplant Cost, Surgeon Selection, and Other Considerations
While follicular hair transplant is the current gold standard of medical hair transplant techniques, other factors will influence your decision. Hair transplant price varies with technique. Other methods may seem more cost effective, but consider true value by factoring additional procedures costs and potential for less satisfactory results. The best hair transplant option will combine competitive pricing with natural results.
Preeminent hair restoration centers are typically located in major metropolitan areas close to university research facilities. Hair transplantation often costs less in urban areas. You might consider traveling to a hair transplant clinic, but don’t discount the resource of local hair transplant doctors. A hair transplant surgeon’s work is his best recommendation. If you’ve noticed an office colleague or guy at the gym who has undergone hair replacement surgery, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to his plastic surgeon.
Be realistic and act fast. A contraindication for medical hair replacement is a patient with unachievable expectations based on existing degree of hair loss, scalp laxity, and financial resources. There must be sufficient donor hair remaining to obtain reasonable results. If you spend a few years deciding whether to have hair transplant surgery, you may discover your alopecia progressed too far for successful restoration