If you have decided to have surgical hair restoration you have made a very serious decision that should not be taken lightly. The planning for such a procedure is perhaps one of the most important undertakings you will ever do. The success or failure of your procedure will influence and even potentially dominate your daily life for many years.
When you have made the decision to have a hair transplant you should do so only after you have expended every other option available to you, including all efforts to halt and reverse your loss with medical therapy, alternative therapy, or by simply accepting your hair loss and moving on in life. There is nothing wrong with this last option and it is the best and safest route forward. However, many men and women cannot accept their hair loss and do whatever they can to stop and reverse this problem. For many this includes hair transplant surgery.
When planning your hair transplant surgery the first thing you should do is understand where you are on the standard hair loss measurement tools. For men, it is the Norwood Hamilton Hair Loss Scale and for women it is the Ludwig Scale and the Savin Scale. For men, it is important to understand that some hair loss is not only natural but expected in early years. When men begin to see recession in their temples it is usually an event that signifies the transition from being a juvenile to an adult. This is normal and is not indicative of male pattern hair loss but an increasing number of young men quickly react and think that surgery is necessary to restore their juvenile hairline. This is one of the most common mistakes made with regards to hair transplant surgery. The best way to find out where you are on one of the available hair loss scales is to schedule a consultation with an IAHRS approved hair restoration specialist.
Once you have identified where you are on one of the various hair loss scales it is important to move forward with patience and caution. The hair loss industry is at least a 5 billion dollar a year industry with the vast majority of information and products designed to do one thing; take your hard earned money. The result can be not only a lighter bank account but also cosmetic deformities from incorrectly performed surgeries at worst or absolutely no change whatsoever, at best. Therefore it is advised that you make use of internet discussion boards such as Baldtruthtalk.com and proceed common sense and caution. You can sign up for a new user account but you should not post and ask questions until you have spent several weeks familiarizing yourself with the vernacular and complexities involved with surgical hair restoration. Once you feel you understand the subject matter better you can then begin to ask questions with regards to general issues but specific questions regarding your particular case should be directed toward IAHRS approved doctors. The reason is because, on the internet, you are dealing with individuals protected by their anonymity so they can say whatever they wish without fear of repercussions. They may even be representatives or fans of various clinics with the goal of directing you in a particular direction to their benefit, not yours.
It is important to understand that there are two primary methods of surgical hair restoration. They are FUSS and FUE. The differences between both methods is discussed in another section but when considering this issue one must look at not only the short term goals but also potential long term problems. If your doctor has determined that you have potential for eventual aggressive hair loss you may want to consider starting your hair restoration journey with FUSS as it is generally accepted (not by all) that FUSS allows for a larger overall number of grafts to be harvested when multiple procedures are performed to the physical limit then followed up by FUE. However, if your IAHRS doctor believes that you are not going to experience aggressive hair loss then FUE may be the better option.
Another issue to consider is that surgical hair restoration is governed by one rule which is the rule of supply vs. demand. The donor zone from which hair is harvested for transplantation is a finite resource. This means that after the donor area has been reduced or even depleted it cannot be replenished. The problem with this is that once one experiences aggressive hair loss, in the NW4 or greater range, there is not enough hair in the donor zone to effectively restore coverage and density thus an experienced hair restoration surgeon must balance the donor supply to the recipient need. It is up to your doctor to explain to you how your donor supply will address your recipient need and how to best achieve your short term and long term goals. For those with moderate hair loss this can mean a strong reversal of loss that, to any observer, would appear to be a full head of hair. For those with more aggressive loss the transformation will require more compromise in that the frontal region can have a fairly dense appearance but the back/crown will have to make do with less coverage and density as a final result. Never forget that there is not enough hair from the relatively small donor area to replace each hair that has been lost on a one to one ratio. The ability to restore the appearance of having much or all of your hair is just as much an art as it is a science.
It is of paramount importance that when you are researching which hair transplant doctor is best for you the consistency of their results should be the baseline for consideration. You should find a surgeon that has a large library of results for you to view and these results should have similar hair loss starting points as you as well. It doesn’t make sense to be fascinated with cases of hairline reconstruction if you personally are in need of more aggressive restoration. You should also look to clinics that have documented their results with video as this helps to give a more comprehensive view of the quality of their work. It is far more difficult to manipulate results with video than it is with photos. Ultimately, the best representation of a doctor’s work is seeing the results in person. You should ask your doctor for five references at a minimum for you to contact. A successful and competent clinic will have patients that have agreed to be on a reference list for this reason. Finally, it makes a lot of sense to make the small (relatively) investment to travel to meet these patients in person if they so agree. You can never forget that this procedure will be with you for the rest of your life so it is in your best interest to dig as deep as you can to find the real truth about the results achieved by the clinic of your choice.
Eventually, with enough research and effort, you will find a doctor that you feel will be the best doctor for your needs. You will be given a list of pre-operative instructions that will prepare you for the procedure. This will usually include precautions to prevent you from having thinned blood, such as halting alcohol use for one or two weeks before surgery as well as the use of aspirin or other known blood thinning medications. It is very important that you follow these instructions closely. You will most likely need to take time off from work to not only have your procedure but to also recover and heal. It is a good idea to plan for at least one week away from work. Many hair transplant patients will experience a degree of swelling that can work it’s way into the facial region and cause a very noticeable change in appearance. When this happens it usually happens on day three after surgery and usually subsides completely by day 6. The method of surgery is usually irrelevant as both techniques can be hidden or are naturally difficult to detect one week later. However, some clinics prefer to shave the patient's recipient scalp in order to reduce the amount of time necessary to complete the procedure. In these cases, it is best to take at least two weeks away from work to allow the recipient area to have a reduction of redness and swelling but to also allow time for the shaved hair to regrow to an acceptable length. This is the biggest single hurdle to returning to work after a hair transplant.
You will be given another set of instructions to follow after you have a hair transplant and it is extremely important to follow these instructions to the letter. Your doctor most likely has years of experience with hair restoration surgery and has honed the post-op recovery protocol to be as good as possible. Many clinics will have varying post-op requirements but you should never venture away from what your clinic tells you to do. If you do not have a satisfactory result and you did not follow the instructions of your clinic then they cannot be held accountable for any surgical shortcomings. By following your clinics post-op instructions closely you not only ensure the highest probability of success you also eliminate any chance of wrong doing in the oft chance of failure. In other words, no one could blame you for a failed result due to you not following your clinic’s instructions.
Become A Member
Membership in The IAHRS Is considered an elite credential afforded only to talented and ethical hair transplant surgeons. Carrying The IAHRS seal identifies surgeons to consumers, not only as true experts in the field, but as physicians of integrity who empower consumers through education and honest, ethical marketing practices.