Overview of Hair Transplantation

Hair transplantation is a procedure where hair follicles are surgically removed from the back of the scalp and transplanted to the balding area. The follicles at the back of the head are genetically programmed to be resistant to balding and they will remain so after the transplantation. Multiple surgeries over an extended period may be necessary to achieve an appearance the patient feels is satisfactory, with each surgery usually separated by a healing time of several months.

The first hair transplants were made in Japan in the 1930s. The transplanting process has evolved since then, progressing from a simple movement of large groups of follicles (punch grafts of four millimetres in diameter) to grafts of just one follicular unit containing between one and four hairs (under one millimetre in diameter). This enables grouping the hairs very close together and gives today’s hair transplants a completely natural look. Hair restoration surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis, usually under local anaesthesia. The procedure lasts from four to eight hours. There is a limit to how many grafts can be transplanted, depending on the hair density in the donor area and it varies between 4,000 and 8,000 grafts per person (this corresponds to 9,000 - 18,000 hairs). A full head of hair is around 100,000 hairs. The main benefit of hair transplantation is in restoring lost hair. However, patients are advised to continue taking finasteride and topical minoxidil to prevent further hair loss.