Hair restoration surgery is the permanent solution for hair loss due to male or female pattern baldness or trauma. Today’s hair transplant procedures have come a long way since the early days of the surgery. While the earlier procedures may have been effective, they often produced results that weren’t necessarily desirable. In some cases, the risk created by early transplant surgeries outweighed the reward of the surgery.
When you’re considering hair restoration or looking for a permanent fix for your hair loss, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the procedure first. Find out about the size of the grafts being removed, how much scarring the surgery will create and how natural the results will look. It also helps to find out when the technique used was developed, so that you have an idea of whether the surgeon is offering you an up-to-date procedure or not.
One of the earlier methods of hair restoration, the use of round grafts often resulted in what’s been dubbed the pluggy look. Often, round grafts were about the size of a pencil eraser, or around 4 mm wide.
The large size of the grafts meant that when the surgeon transplanted them from the back of the head to the top, the newly transplanted hair didn’t grow in a natural pattern. In some cases, the size of the grafts prevented blood from properly flowing to the area. Because of the lack of blood flow, the hair in the center of the graft would often not grow, creating an even more unnatural look.
Along with creating an unnatural result, the size of the grafts was often responsible for a considerable amount of scarring at the back of the scalp, where the grafts were removed. The transplanted grafts can also create a deformity on the scalp known as cobblestoning.
Scalp reduction is a procedure that attempts to repair hair loss by reducing the size of the scalp, or removing the part of the scalp that is bald. During the surgery, the surgeon cuts away the part of the scalp that is bald, bringing the sides that have hair together. In the past, the procedure was recommended to men who might not have a great amount of hair loss or who had a limited amount of donor hair.
In many cases, the risks of scalp reduction outweigh the positives. The surgery usually creates a long scar down the middle of the scalp. The size of the incision increases a patient’s risk for infection or for a hematoma or bleeding.
In some instances, the procedure causes more problems than it solves. It can actually make hair loss worse or cause more hair to fall out. Pulling the scalp tight can cause it to stretch out and become loose in time, so that the bald area appears again. Known as stretch back, the loosening of the scalp can also make the scar from the surgery more visible. To add insult to injury, the results from scalp reduction tend to look unnatural, as the hair doesn’t grow in a natural pattern.
Flap surgery is somewhat similar to scalp reduction. Instead of removing single follicles of hair from the scalp, the surgeon cuts out a flap of flesh and hair. The flap is still connected to the scalp on one side and is simply repositioned on the head, to cover up any area of baldness.
The flap varies in size based on how much hair loss a person has. It’s typically about an inch wide and can be up to seven inches long. The procedure requires cutting out the bald area of the scalp, so the surgery itself is often very long and involved.
Once the bald area is cut away and the flap is cut out, the surgeon twists and moves the flap over the top of the scalp, so that it covers the cut away bald area. Maneuvering the flap involves positioning it so that a bump or knot forms where the flap is still connected to the scalp.
The risks of flap surgery can be considerable. Although the goal of the procedure is to leave the flap connected to the scalp and to the blood supply, it is possible for the flap to die, or necrotize, which can cause disfigurement. Other risks of the procedure include having hair grow in an unnatural direction, having hair fall out due to shock or infection.
Modern hair restoration procedures for female or male pattern baldness result in a natural appearance and often have a shorter recovery period and less time spent in the operating room. While some surgeons still offer out of date surgical procedures, Dr. Kyle Choe offers the most up-to-date options in Virginia Beach. To learn more about hair loss and the optimal ways to perform hair restoration surgery, call his office at (757) 389-5850 to schedule an appointment today.