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Hair transplants can be very effective when done correctly. But how do they work? Every hair on your body has and knows its own identity - whether it’s a scalp hair, an eyebrow hair, an eyelash hair or a leg/arm hair. This means that transplanted hairs will continue to grow in the way they used to grow, no matter where you put them – even on the tip of your nose.
How Transplants Work
The theory behind transplanted scalp hairs and follicles is that the recipient scalp site, where the hairs are put after removal from the donor site, keeps the characteristics of the scalp area from which they were taken. The sides and lower part of the head don’t go bald, even in the most advanced male pattern baldness, as they are not influenced by male hormones. So, when you remove follicles from these areas, and put them elsewhere, they grow as they were doing before.
Choosing Your Doctor
Ignore newspaper advertisements and choose a medical doctor - preferably a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon with transplant experience. The theory behind transplants may seem simple, but it’s not. It requires a great deal of expertise, care and attention to detail. This is because hair grows at an angle from the scalp.
The angle of growth is mostly pointing away from the front of your hairline and towards the back and expertise, patience and care are needed to remove the donor grafts at this angle so that the papilla (growth point) at the base of your follicle is also removed. If it’s not, your hair won’t grow where it’s put. After this is done, the grafts then need to be transplanted into the receiving area at the same angle, or your hair will grow towards your eyes, be impossible to control and also look terrible.
Method - Strip Grafts
Transplants used to be done in small clumps, similar to plugs, which often gave the appearance of ‘Barbie doll’s hair’. Now the donor area is removed in a strip, and single or double follicles are cut off and inserted in small slits where they are needed. It gives a very natural look and is hardly different to normal growth patterns.
Another advantage is that the strip can give access to more follicles, and there is a choice in the number of hairs that each follicle has. Some follicles contain a single hair, some two or three and some even four. The success rate with this method is also high and very few hairs are lost or wasted.
Care After Transplants
Treat your initial transplants with great care. For instance, be gentle when you shampoo. If you rub your scalp vigorously when you wash, you can pull the new hairs out. However, when your hairs start to grow properly in 10-12 weeks, they can be handled normally.
Hair transplants were first introduced in the late 1950s by Dr. Norman Orentreich, a New York dermatologist.