Hair loss or alopecia can affect a part of the head or the entire body. The severity of this condition varies in men and women. Typically, the scalp loses 50 to 200 hairs a day.
While the hair goes through a continuous cycle of growth, shedding and regrowth, there are certain factors that can stop the hair from regrowing.
It is often believed that hair loss only affects men. With male-pattern baldness as the most common cause, men can suffer from alopecia starting at the age of twenty. Furthermore, research shows that by the age of fifty, about 85% of men suffer from thinning hair.
Women also suffer from hair loss, and they make up 40% of the people who are affected.
Not only do adults suffer from this condition, children experience it too. It certainly is a common concern in the pediatric group. No matter the age or gender, this condition can be a devastating issue.
WHAT IS A HAIR TRANSPLANTATION?
Hair transplantation is a type of surgery that has advanced over the decades, providing permanent results to those who suffer from hair loss. The focus of the technique is to remove quality hair follicles from one part of the body to transfer it to another area of the body.
Aside from the scalp area, hair transplant can also be used to restore eyelashes or to fill in scars.
Men suffering from hair loss are usually associated with this procedure, but women can also have the procedure done to remedy their receding hairline. People with severe hair loss can opt to consider hair transplant instead of over-the-counter medications and ointments.
The two types of hair transplant surgery are follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT). Both types can range from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the surgeon and the severity of the patient’s hair loss.
FOLLICULAR UNIT EXTRACTION (FUE)
The first method, which is follicular unit extraction (FUE), involves removing hair follicles expertly and individually from one part of the body and then planted to a balding or thinning site. The best candidates for this procedure are men with male-pattern baldness, people with thinning hair and people with scalp injuries.
Hair follicles or follicular units are described to be groups of one to four naturally occurring hairs.
The part wherein the hair follicles are harvested from is the “donor site”, while the balding or receiving spot is the “recipient site”. In FUE, the donor sites are the sides or the back of the scalp, which are resistant to balding.
The process is minimally invasive, and it begins with shaving the back of the head. The surgeon then cleans the donor site and applies local anesthesia.
Next, groups of up to four hair follicular grafts are removed from the donor site using a small round punch.
Tiny marks where the follicles were removed will be visible. After that, small holes or incisions are then made on the balding or thinning area, where the follicular grafts will be implanted. Finally, the surgeon covers the surgical sites with gauze or bandage.
The patient may stay awake during the procedure or request for sedation. It can take four to eight hours in length. The patient can go home after the procedure.
Recovery time can range from several hours to several days. New hair will begin to grow in three to four months after the procedure.
BENEFITS OF FUE
Generally, post-operative discomfort is low. Some patients report feeling no pain nor discomfort at all. You may feel slight pain, soreness or discomfort in the donor site and the recipient site.
The surgeon may prescribe pain medications for relief, antibiotics to counter infections, and anti-inflammatory to alleviate the swelling.
One of the best benefits of FUE is that scarring from this procedure heals quickly. The tiny scars are barely visible once hair regrows. Patients who have an active lifestyle can resume to their normal activities because there are no limitations after the procedure.
FUE hair transplantation results to a natural-looking hairline, and it can also be used to improve eyebrows. It is important to seek a highly experienced and properly trained surgeon to achieve safe and best results. In essence, the FUE technique itself is a highly effective method.
FUE SUCCESS RATE
The success of hair transplant using follicular unit extraction (FUE) method has a success rate of as high as 98%. FUE is said to be the permanent solution to hair loss, but it is important to keep in mind that results vary per individual.
FUE HAIR TRANSPLANT COST
It is important to note that insurance doesn’t cover hair transplant surgery costs. Since FUE involves the expert harvesting of individual follicular units, the average cost ranges from $6 to $11 per hair follicle graft. The average cost is around $4,800.
FOLLICULAR UNIT TRANSPLANTATION (FUT)
The second surgical technique is follicular unit transplantation (FUT), sometimes known as Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS) or strip excision procedure. Patients with thinner hair in the donor site are recommended for this highly-advanced treatment.
It imitates the pattern of natural hair growth. The best candidates for this procedure are people who have a pattern of hair thinning and people who have healthy donor site such as the back of the scalp.
In this process, the surgeon will remove a six to ten-inch strip of skin from the back of the head, and transplants it to the balding or thinning area.
The procedure begins with the surgeon cleaning the donor site, and application of anesthesia. The next step is removing a strip of scalp from the back of the head with a scalpel. The typical size of the strip is six to ten inches long.
The area where the strip was taken from is then closed with stitches. After that, the strip is split into tiny pieces called grafts.
The surgeon then makes small holes in the thinning or balding area. The hairs from the strips are then inserted into the holes, and then covered with bandages or gauze. New hair will also begin to grow in three to four months after the procedure.
The patient can go home on the same day. In terms of recovery length, it generally takes ten to fourteen days, depending on the amount of procedure done.
There are patients that have reported some level of discomfort and swelling, but these can be managed with prescribed medications. It is advised to avoid strenuous activity for at least 4 weeks.
BENEFITS OF FUT
In this method, large amounts of follicle units to be transplanted in one session. It is very convenient for patients who require large quantity of follicles or simply, more hair.
Recovery period is very manageable, there are patients who can to back to work the next day.
Additionally, FUT results to a very thin linear scar on the back of the head that can be easily concealed by remaining hair. The scar fades over time.
FUT SUCCESS RATE
The doctor and the patient should have already discussed how many follicular units are needed after assessing the patient’s case. It is important for the patient to be informed of how mild or severe his case is.
Studies show a success rate of 98% of hair transplant done using follicular unit transplantation (FUT).
FUT HAIR TRANSPLANT COST
The total cost depends of the amount of graft needed to cover the balding or thinning area. The average cost for FUT hair transplant cost is $7,000, but it can be assessed better on a case-to-case basis. Considering its success rate, cost to benefit ratio is good.
ALTERNATIVE TO HAIR TRANSPLANT: PLATELET-RICH PLASMA (PRP)
Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a unique biological medicine that uses the patient’s blood to reduce inflammation, promote natural healing and accelerate the process of hair regrowth.
The process involves drawing blood from the patient’s arm and placing it into a centrifuge, which is a machine that separates blood into three different layers: red blood cells, platelet-poor plasma, and platelet-rich plasma.
The platelet-rich plasma is then directly injected into every half inch of the scalp area that needs treatment. Although the whole process must be carried out scrupulously, it usually takes less than half an hour.
To achieve the best results, treatments are initially done once a month for the first three to four months, and then once every three to six months after.
BENEFITS OF PRP HAIR TREATMENT
None or little recovery time is needed. There may be a minor discomfort after the injection, but it is part of the healing process.
Another benefit of PRP treatment is that it can be repeated after a year without experiencing any side effects. It is a very safe treatment with no risk of allergic reactions.
SUCCESS RATE OF PRP
Studies show that PRP has seen success in more than 70% of clinical trials that involve men and women. It is recommended for those who are experiencing the early stages of hair loss or thinning, such as hair loss due to stress or sudden illness.
COST OF PRP
According to Scientific American, the costs for PRP injections or sessions range from $500 to $4000. Most insurance plans do not cover PRP therapy.
OTHER TREATMENTS FOR HAIR RESTORATION
It is important to begin treatment with an effective product. With a lot of hair loss treatments being marketed today, it is best to seek professional help to find the right treatment for you. Hair can regrow once the cause is properly addressed.
Different types of treatment are available:
- Propecia (Generic name: Finasteride) is a medication for hair loss in men. It specifically targets the enzyme that converts testosterone to a more potent androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The reduction of DHT levels stops the progression of hair loss.
Once a patient starts taking Propecia for hair growth, he will need to keep taking it. Discontinuing the medication will result in hair fall.
Some of its reported side effects are skin rash, headache, runny nose, weakness, dizziness, impotence, libido difficulties, and abnormal ejaculation. This may not work well for men aged over 60.
DOES PROPECIA WORK?
Propecia, however, doesn’t work for everyone, it is recommended to seek a physician first to get a proper evaluation. It can take a while before seeing results. The disadvantage of taking Propecia is that it needs to be taken indefinitely to maintain results.
- Minoxidil (Generic name: Ioniten) is another type of hair loss treatment. It slows down the progression of hair loss, but some experts say that the positive effects are temporary and may result to disappointing long-term results. It is effective to a small percentage of patients. Studies show the progress plateaus eventually.
Minoxidil is also known as Rogaine, a topical solution that is in liquid or foam form. It is simple to use. For maintenance, it has to be applied daily on the affected area. Minoxidil works by promoting blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles thereby extending the hair growth cycle.
People who have taken minoxidil have reported growing hair in unexpected body parts such as their cheeks, and scalp irritation. Minoxidil is clinically approved for female-pattern hair loss.
DOES ROGAINE WORK?
Like Propecia, it can take a while before seeing results and in order to maintain those results, minoxidil or rogaine has to be used continuously. This is the biggest disadvantage of using minoxidil, the results stop with discontinued use.
LOW ENERGY LASER THERAPY
- Low-energy laser therapy may help new hair grow according to a few studies, but long-term safety and results aren’t guaranteed.
Hair loss is a condition that can be devastating to both men and women. Different treatments are available in the market that may work for certain patients but may also require long-term use to be able to see and maintain results. It is best to consult a professional to help determine and address the cause of hair loss.
Thanks to medical innovations, hair transplant methods (FUE and FUT) have been developed and improved. These methods are said to be life changing to those people suffering from hair loss. Investing in hair transplant procedure yields natural-looking results that can last a lifetime.
Hair transplant is considered to be very safe and successful. Studies show that the success rate of hair transplant procedures is 98%. It is the top choice in treating hair loss, followed by the PRP therapy.
Undergoing hair transplant is a major decision, so it is important to choose a highly skilled and experienced surgeon to perform a very advanced technique.