Hair transplantation is an operation that takes hair from the back of the head and moves it to the area of hair loss. The fringe (back and sides) of hair on a balding scalp is known as donor dominant hair which is the hair that will continue to grow throughout the life of most men. The transplantation of this hair to a bald area does not change its ability to grow. Donor dominance is the scientific basis for the success of hair transplantation. Dr. Okuda of Japan first described the use of transplanted hair to repair scarred eyelashes and eyebrows. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II prevented his valuable discovery from reaching the rest of the world for two decades. Dr. Norman Orentreich published the first widely read report on hair transplantation surgery in 1959 and the field of hair transplant surgery was born.
Candidates for hair transplant surgery are those individuals with hair loss that have sufficient donor hair from the fringe of the scalp to transplant to the balding area. In the past, many bald patients were not suitable candidates for hair transplant surgery but modern techniques have advanced the art of hair transplant surgery so that many more men are candidates.
Hair transplantation surgery has improved in leaps and bounds over the past decade. The days of the "plugs and corn rows" are gone and the age of single hair-, micro-, and mini- grafting has arrived. Through the use of the these variable sized hair grafts along with new and improved instrumentation, the accomplished hair transplantation surgeons can create a natural hair appearance that is appropriate for each individual patient. Single hair-grafts have the finest and softest appearance. Although they do not provide much density, they do provide the critical soft hairline that is the transition to thicker hair. Reconstructing a new hairline is a skill requiring surgical as well as artistic skill. It is critically important to get it right the first time and thus requires considerable forethought and planning. Getting it Right. Examining the hairline of a nonbalding person will show the presence of numerous single hairs in the very frontal hairline. Micrografts are small grafts containing 2-3 hairs that are placed behind the hairline to provide a gradually increasing hair density. Lastly, minigrafts contain 4 or more hairs are placed well behind the hairline so that the single hair and micrografts can blend naturally into the density provided by these larger grafts.
There is different terminology and techniques used by many ISHRS surgeons. This is because ISHRS surgeons are innovators and are on the cutting edge of hair transplant surgery. New techniques naturally give rise to new terms. Although there are variations in the techniques of individual surgeons, the combination use of these grafting techniques provide the most natural and pleasing results.
The side-effects of hair transplantation surgery are relatively minor consisting of mild pain and discomfort after the operation, swelling which may move down to the eyes, and the formation of scabs over the grafts which take approximately one week to resolve. Serious problems of bleeding, scarring, and infection are rare. Modern hair transplantation surgery is comfortable, predictable, and the results are pleasing to most patients.
Hair loss, however, is a life long process, most men will develop male pattern baldness (due to male hormones) until approximately 40-45 years of age. After that, the aging process thins the entire head of hair. Progressive hair loss or the desire for more density, will require more transplant procedures. Modern techniques, however, allow hair transplant surgery specialists of transplant larger number of grafts, greatly reducing the number of procedures needed to complete the result.