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Hair Loss

How common is hair loss?

Everyone loses hair on a daily basis at a rate of approximately 50 to 150 individual hairs per day. Usually the hair will grow back. If the hair follicle is thinned, however, this re-growth does not occur. All men experience some degree of gradual hair loss in their lifetime as a result of natural aging and changes in the male hormone androgen. Women also may experience hair loss.

Is male pattern or female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) caused by anything I am doing? What about high stress levels or the type of shampoo I use?

There is no proof that male pattern or female pattern baldness is related to tight scalp muscles, mental stress, washing frequency, type of shampoo or skin conditions. Certain medical conditions can cause hair loss, however. The Penn team will advise you on the type of hair loss you are experiencing.

Am I a good candidate for hair transplantation surgery?

The ideal candidate for hair restoration surgery has healthy hair on the sides and back of the head. These sites are used as donor areas for the grafts. Men and women with well-defined baldness, thinning hair and those with limited hair loss due to scalp injuries or repeated cosmetic procedures are generally good candidates for hair restoration surgery. The Penn team will advise you of treatment options during an initial consultation.

Does the procedure hurt?

With the use of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation, discomfort during the procedure is eliminated.

Will I be able to swim and enjoy other physical activities with my new hair?

You will be able to participate in any of the activities you enjoy within five to seven days after treatment. Your transplanted hair is permanent and may be washed, cut and dyed.

Will my transplanted hair eventually fall out?

When you have hair grafted from the back and sides of your scalp to your balding areas, called an autograft, the hair will grow for the rest of your life.

Hair Transplantation

Who is a candidate for transplantation?

Your desire and motivation for a more attractive hairline, as well as increased hair density, are the keys to success in treating hair loss. At the initial consultation, your surgeon will advise you if there are any factors that could limit your ability to benefit from our hair replacement techniques.

In general, age or sex is not a limiting factor for our hair restoration techniques. Patients age 70 and older have had successful procedures. Individuals in their 30's who are experiencing male pattern or female pattern baldness also can be successfully treated. Even younger patients may be candidates, but should be managed conservatively. Women with specific patterns of hair loss also may qualify as candidates.

The ideal candidate for hair restoration surgery has healthy hair on the sides and back of the head -- the areas from which grafts are taken. It is often better to start when you are not completely bald so that you can use existing hair to help camouflage the early stages of the restoration.

The following individuals may be good candidates for hair transplantation:

  • Individuals with well-defined male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.
  • Individuals with hair loss from scarring, scalp injuries or cosmetic surgery procedures.
  • Individuals who wish to restore or thicken eyebrows, mustaches or beards.
  • Individuals who had prior hair restoration procedures.

What is microblend grafting?

Male or female pattern baldness affects the top and front of your scalp. Fortunately, the back and sides of your scalp are genetically programmed to grow for life. These "horseshoe" areas around the back and sides become your donor area. Hair grafted from these areas (called an autograft) to your balding areas will eventually begin growing and keep growing.

  • Donor dominance is the ability of autografted hair from healthy donor sites on your scalp to take root and grow normally when transplanted into the balding (recipient) areas of your scalp.

The grafts may be either “micro” (follicular) grafts or “mini” (follicular groupings). Each micrograft contains one to three individual hair follicles. Follicular groupings have four to six hairs. Older “punch” grafts contained 10 to 20 follicles.

Advantages of follicular grafts - Micro/mini grafts produce delicate, fine hair that more closely resembles your hair growth prior to balding. Since the hairline is a true transition zone from the forehead to denser hair further back, the use of one to three hair grafts creates the most natural appearing hairline.

How is the procedure performed?

Hair restoration surgery involves removing a small strip of hair-bearing scalp from the back and sides of your head. This donor region contains hair that will grow throughout your lifetime. The area from which the strip is taken is carefully closed, usually resulting in a very fine line completely hidden amongst the remaining hair.

Our skilled surgical team then microscopically divides the harvest strip of hair-bearing scalp for replacement in your balding areas. These grafts may be processed into a variety of different sizes, depending on your specific needs and scalp conditions. The grafted hairs grow much like normal hair and are virtually undetectable. Follicular groupings containing more hairs will be used to obtain more density behind the hairline.

With the use of local anesthesia and IV sedation, any discomfort during the procedure can be eliminated. To complete the restoration, our staff carefully checks that your newly placed hairs will grow together in specific directions to form a hairline that is virtually undetectable from the one that nature might have given you, along with increased overall hair density.

How much time is involved for treatment?

Multiple sessions at various intervals are usually required. Most patients can achieve a full, natural look with a minimum of procedures. Most successful candidates for micrografting and hair transplantation require one to two appointments, usually several months apart. Each office procedure lasts approximately from three to four hours.

What happens after the surgery?

  • Most patients can return to work 24 to 48 hours after their hair restoration.
  • Hair is washed the morning after each procedure.
  • Vigorous physical activity should be limited for five to seven days.

Medication is utilized to minimize swelling which can occur. Some crusting or small scabs may be present for seven to ten days, along with some itching at the treatment sites. Any numbness at the donor or recipient sites usually disappears within several weeks to a few months. Follow-up visits at four to six-month intervals are scheduled in order to monitor progress and assess results.

What results can be expected?

Micrografts leave virtually no scaring. They also conserve much of the hair that will be needed for future transplantations. The amount of coverage that is achieved depends on the extent of your hair loss, the density of your donor hair, as well as the number of procedures.

Much of the transplanted hair will shed within a month. Approximately three months later (90 to 100 days), new hair starts to grow and continues to grow at a normal rate. About six months after a hair transplant session, the transplanted hairs begin to take on a natural appearance and will continue to grow for a lifetime. The donor site from which the hair was taken shrinks to a small, barely noticeable incision line that is completely hidden in the surrounding hair.

View our online hair transplant gallery of before and after pictures.

Are there any complications from surgery?

As with all surgical procedures, there is always some risk. However, complications from the surgical treatment of hair loss are rare and generally minimal. Bleeding and/or infection are infrequent and minor. In general you should avoid aspirin or certain drugs or some herbal remedies before surgery. If you have specific concerns please discuss them with your physician.

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