With celebrities now joining the queue for a hair transplant, many a balding man is turning towards the popular procedure in order to ascertain whether it is the right move for them.
Hair loss affects a large number of men, with Europe having the highest incidence globally and hair loss being more common in white men. The loss of their hair can have a serious psychological impact on sufferers, threatening their vanity and reminding them of their own mortality.
For many who are thinking a hair transplant may seem like a logical step, however, before considering such a drastic procedure it’s worth taking a look into what’s involved and how successful it is.
The first hair transplant was performed in 1939 in Japan with single scalp hairs. This has been refined and modernised in recent years to minimise the appearance of transplanted hair on the scalp.
Reputable hair transplant involves moving follicles from a donor area where there is a high density of hair to the balding part of the head. So, what makes some people more suitable for a hair transplant?
The Color of the Donor Hair
There are several factors to take into account when considering your suitability for a hair transplant. The color of your hair and in particular its contrast to your scalp color will affect how effective your hair is at hiding thinning areas. As an example, a blonde person with a light skin tone will not appear bald until a significant amount of hair loss has occurred. This kind of low contrast makes for a more successful transplantation whereas people with Asian hair will make more challenging transplant candidates due to the eye following each shaft of hair down to the scalp which will appear balder.
Suitability of The Donor Hair
There is also the suitability of the donor hair to consider. The removal of the hair and follicles from the donor site is called harvesting. Harvesting is most commonly done from the scalp area at the back of the head, which is usually unaffected by baldness due to pattern balding. The characteristics of the donor hair will determine how much hair will be required for the transplant and the number of transplants that will need to take place.
Degree of Curl
Degree of curl is also a consideration as generally speaking, the more curl or wave that hair has, the more coverage it will provide. An example of this is with Afro-Caribbean hair that tends to be tightly wound or kinky, possibly an evolutionary adaptation to protect the scalp from harsh sunlight. Although African follicular density tends to be lower than that of Caucasians, the curl gives great coverage and tends to give the hair a very thick appearance.
Another consideration is scalp flexibility. This ranges from person to person and a very tight scalp is trickier to remove follicles from during the harvesting stage.
Age is also an important consideration before turning down the transplant route. Below the age of 30, a person’s hair loss pattern is rarely fully established which in turn means that embarking on a hair transplant during this time may require multiple further procedures in the future in order to maintain results. There are alternative treatments on offer for younger hair loss patients which should be considered to combat hair loss until a pattern has become obvious and transplant can successfully be carried out.
General Health is also an important consideration. Although a hair transplant is only a minor surgery, being in optimum health will significantly reduce the risks involved. Potential patients will often have their hearts checked and a special treatment plan is often advised for patients who are diabetic or taking blood thinning medication.
Reason for Hair Loss
There are a number of reasons that people can suffer from hair loss. The most common cause of hair loss can be attributed to genetic factors. This usually occurs with ageing and is referred to as pattern baldness. This is the most successful type of hair loss for transplant surgery. Hair loss that can be attributed to medical conditions, medications, hormonal changes, stress and hair treatments are not suitable for transplant surgery and patients should consult with their doctor for alternative treatments.
It is important however for patients and doctors to manage expectations before commencing with this kind of treatment as results can vary dramatically. Results need to be achievable and doctors should work with patients to discuss what that looks like.