Once you’ve made the decision to undergo a hair transplant, one of the big questions you have might be what will happen during the procedure itself. It’s helpful to understand the process before you get the surgery so that you have a good idea of what the recovery will be like and what type of results you can expect. Having an idea of what to expect the day of your surgery will also prevent you from being surprised by the method the surgeon uses or the duration of the procedure.
Preparing for the Transplant
After your consultation, your hair transplant surgeon will typically give you a list of do’s and don’ts to help you get ready for the surgery. First on the list is to stop smoking if you do smoke, as nicotine slows the healing process. Your surgeon will typically also recommend that you stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin, a week or two before the surgery. Aspirin and other medicines increase the risk for bleeding. You will also be told to stop drinking alcohol a week or so before the surgery, in most cases.
The night before the transplant, try to get a full night’s worth of sleep. Although you’re usually told not to eat or drink anything the day of the surgery, in the case of a hair transplant, having breakfast before the procedure is usually recommended, as you aren’t going under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will give you more specifics regarding what is OK to eat or drink before the surgery.
At the Choe Center for Hair Restoration, Dr. Kyle Choe performs the surgery using a local anesthetic. The use of a local anesthetic means the patient is comfortable but awake during the surgery. The area is completely numb, so you won’t feel any pain while it’s taking place. You also won’t have to worry about having to come out of the surgery feeling groggy or disoriented.
The process depends on the type of procedure your surgeon uses. Follicular unit grafting, or FUG, is one of the more commonly used hair transplant procedures. If your surgeon uses FUG, he will remove a strip of skin from the back or side of your scalp that contains actively growing hair. He’ll then divide the strip into individual follicles, which will be grafted into the balding area of your scalp.
If your surgeon uses follicular unit extraction (FUE), he will remove each hair follicle from the scalp one at a time using a punch tool or pneumatic device. Since the doctor doesn’t have to cut away a strip of skin during FUE, there is less scarring.
The grafts are then inserted into the bald area through a series of small incisions. The surgeon places the follicles and grafts into the scalp, usually about 1/8 inch apart. Proper spacing is important to encourage circulation in the scalp. When placing the grafts, the surgeon will arrange them so that the hair looks natural as it grows back.
Length of Surgery
The duration of the surgery depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the balding area and the number of grafts required. Typically, a short surgery takes about three or four hours. A longer procedure can take all day, or about 8 hours. It’s recommended that you plan to be in surgery for the entire day.
After your first hair transplant, you and your surgeon might decide that additional procedures are needed to create a fuller look. Usually, your surgeon will evaluate your hair as it begins to grow back, after about eight months, and let you know if he thinks additional sessions are needed.
Recovery from a hair transplant varies based on the extent of the surgery and a patient’s lifestyle. Depending on the type of work you do, you might be able to be back at your desk within a day or two following the procedure. If you have a job that requires physical exertion, your surgeon might recommend that you wait longer before heading back to work.
The Choe Center for Hair Restoration is an AAAHC-accredited office-based surgical center in Viriginia Beach. To learn more about your hair transplant options or to schedule a consultation, use the online contact form or call the office at (757) 389-5850 today.