The Modern-Day Transplant
Hair-restoration surgery is the only permanent option to treat hair loss. Whereas other treatments work to slow hair loss, surgery helps place hair where there isn’t any. “Surgery should be the last resort if all attempts to slow down or stop the progression of hair loss have been exhausted,” says Dr. Ziering. “It’s also important to note that nonsurgical approaches can be combined with surgical protocols for a more integrated approach to treating hair loss.”
Who It’s For: Those with hair loss attributed to genetic/hormonal issues, or from scarring or surgery
Who It’s Not For: Those with severe keloid scarring or scarring alopecia
Procedure Time: Approximately eight hours, depending on the procedure
Recovery Time: About one week
What to Expect: The donor site (at the back of the scalp) is anesthetized and a strip of hair containing the follicles is removed, which are then harvested under a microscope and the hairs are divided into follicular units, or groups of one, two or three hairs; or the donor site can be shaved and follicles removed one by one via fue. The areas where the units will be transplanted are also anesthetized and the transplanted hair is placed.
Post-Surgery: Minor discomfort and swelling may occur, but subsides after a few days. Scabbing at the transplant site is common. “The first three days post-op, I recommend applying ice, massaging periodically and sleeping at a 45-degree angle to avoid forehead edema,” says Dr. Ziering. “Also, no sun exposure for at least three months to avoid risk of hyperpigmentation.” Some growth can be seen at three months; more growth will be visible in six to nine months. “The transplanted hairs quickly become ‘rooted’ into the scalp, and after a short resting period of a few months, they begin to grow permanently for the rest of your life,” says Dr. Attenello.
The Life Cycle of Hair Growth
Phase 1: Hair Starts Growing
Known as the anagen phase, this is when cells in the root divide and create new hair at the base of the follicle, which pushes the previous strand out. Hair grows close to the scalp and extends down as it continues to grow.
Phase 2: Hair Takes a Break
The catagen phase is when hair begins to transition after it reaches maximum growth capacity and “takes a break.” At this stage it’s still attached to the root, but it stops growing and prepares to fall out and renew itself.
Phase 3: Hair Is at Rest
Called the telogen phase, this is when hair is at rest, and then eventually it is released and falls out. Afterward, the follicle remains inactive for three months and the entire cycle begins again.
Enviable Lashes and Brows
It just takes one Instagram scroll to see that long lashes and thick brows are two of the most covetable features on the face. But just as hair on our heads start to thin, so can our lashes and brows.
Whether the cause of thinning brows is years of plucking, waxing, tweezing or threading, or they’re just thinning out on their own, there are solutions. To permanently enhance sparse eyebrows or bald patches due to a medical condition, medication or the aging process, an eyebrow transplant may be the best option. During the procedure, the doctor will use local anesthesia to remove donor hair from the back of the head and transplant it to the eyebrows. Once the area is fully healed, it will be nearly impossible to locate the scar.
What to Expect: After surgery, the area may be sore or swollen. During the first few days, scabbing or crusting may occur around the hair follicle in the brow line. Sutures at the donor site will be removed after one week.
Procedure Time: Around two hours
Recovery Time: Three to seven days
Aging can cause the eyelashes to become weak and prone to breakage, making them look short, thin or sparse. An eyelash transplant can permanently restore the hair. Eyelash restoration surgery can lengthen lashes and jump-start a healthy growth cycle, but it can’t make lashes thicker or fuller like mascaras and false eyelashes. It’s more for replacing what’s lost.
What to Expect: The surgery, which can only be done on the upper lashes, uses small grafts of donor hair from the scalp. In the first few days after surgery, the areas may crust, swell or become pink. It can take two months for hair to begin growing and one year to see the final result.
Procedure Time: Two to four hours
Recovery Time: Three to seven days