=It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, if you’re barely in your 20s or turned 50 years ago: hair loss can happen to almost anyone. While people tend to association hair loss with genes, aging and hormones, it can occur for a number of reasons, from outside factors such as stress and severe injuries to internal issues such as illness.
Hair restoration surgery, or a hair transplant, can be a solution to hair loss for many people. A relatively quick and comfortable procedure, a hair transplant provides permanent results. Although it can be very effective, it’s not an option for every patient. The type of hair loss you’re experiencing is just one factor to consider when deciding whether or not a hair transplant is for you.
Your Hair Loss is Permanent
One of the first things to consider when deciding on a transplant or not is whether your hair loss is permanent. If you hair will eventually grow back on its own, it doesn’t make much sense to surgically transplant different hair follicles into the area. Permanent hair loss can occur for a number of reasons. One of the most common reasons is male or female pattern baldness. Other causes of permanent hair loss include burns or a severe injury to the scalp, hair loss related to scarring from facial plastic surgery procedures, and hair loss due to traction alopecia, or tight hairstyles that pull the hair out.
Hair loss that occurs after a major life change or shock to the system is usually related to telogen effluvium, and isn’t permanent. Telogen effluvium causes many of your hair follicles to shift into the resting phase at the same time, so that you shed much more hair than usual at once. The prematurely shed hair is eventually replaced with new growth and no further treatment is needed.
You’ve Lost a Sufficient Amount of Hair
Along with having permanent hair loss, the next way to determine whether or not a hair restoration procedure is right for you is to look at the amount of hair you’ve lost. It’s easy to panic at the first signs of loss and to rush to a surgeon right away. But, he will most likely advise waiting until your hair loss has progressed to a certain point before you start seriously thinking about surgery.
The reason for that is simple. While a hair transplant will permanently replace or restore the hair you’ve lost, it won’t stop you from losing additional hairs. If you are dealing with male pattern baldness, your hair loss will continue to progress after surgery. That means that if you have a transplant early, you can still find yourself coping with bald areas in the years after the procedure. It’s often better to wait a few years to see how your hair loss will progress and to give it time to progress, so that you can have just a single procedure, instead of having several surgeries every few years to correct hair loss as it progresses.
You Aren’t Getting the Results You Want from Another Treatment
A hair transplant is a permanent fix for hair loss, but it’s not the only option out there. Some people see decent results from taking or using medication, such as finasteride or minoxidil (Rogaine). If you’re using a medicine and are benefiting it, it might make sense to put off a hair transplant until you need it. But, if medication isn’t doing much for your hair growth or if the side effects outweigh the benefits of the product, it might be time to seriously consider surgery.
You Have Enough Donor Hair
During a hair transplant, the surgeon uses hair from your own body, often from the back or sides of the scalp, areas that aren’t subject to male pattern baldness. For that reason, you need to have a sufficient amount of donor hair for the procedure to work. If you have hair loss all over your scalp and don’t have much body hair, a hair transplant isn’t the option for you.
Using someone else’s hair isn’t an option during hair restoration surgery. When a surgeon transplants another person’s organs into someone, the recipient of the transplant needs to take immune system suppressing medicines for the rest of his or her life, to keep the body from rejecting the new organ. In the case of transplanted hair, the risks of immune system suppressing drugs are just too high to justify using anyone’s hair but your own.
You Have Realistic Expectations
It’s important to have a fair idea of what to expect before your hair transplant. Since the hair transplanted is your own, it’s important that you understand that the surgery won’t change the way your hair looks or grows. It’s not going to suddenly give you curly hair if you naturally have straight hair, for example.
If you are coping with permanent hair loss and are looking for a way to restore your hair and regain self-confidence, a hair transplant is worth considering. To learn more about the surgery and its results, contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. George Bitar today. Dr. Bitar is happy to answer your questions during a consultation. To schedule an appointment, call (703) 206-0506.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.