If you are contemplating a hair transplantation, there are a myriad of things to consider. One of the first things you should do – and definitely the most important – is to consult a qualified hair transplantation specialist. There are probably a ton of “specialists” who are willing to help you. Whether or not all of those doctors are qualified is another matter entirely.
What is the difference?
Today’s technology has led to a hair transplantation method with virtually undetectable results – the follicular unit transplantation. This is the only form of hair transplantation you should consider and the only treatment option that a qualified doctor will recommend.
Sadly, there are some doctors who are driven by one thing – money. The brass tacks of the situation are this: FUTs are expensive. A doctor who wishes to provide FUTs to his patients would have to revamp his entire practice. It would mean hiring and training technicians who are familiar with the procedure, purchasing new equipment, and probably expanding the size of the clinic. Plus, a FUT takes much longer than old, outdated methods. So, a doctor would do fewer procedures in a day yet probably work more hours.
These doctors subscribe to, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” train of thought when it comes to performing hair transplantations. However, unsuspecting and trusting patients quickly learn that the method is in fact broken.
Here is a list of four hair transplantation procedures that are outdated and dangerous. If a doctor recommends one of these, run far, far away!
1. Linear or Line Grafts
If a doctor preformed a line graft, she would remove a 3-4mm strip of scalp from the back or sides of your head. Then, she would cut a trench in the recipient site. Instead of dissecting the strip into individual follicular units, she would surgically insert the entire strip into the donor site trench.
2. Round or Square Grafts
If a doctor preformed a round or square graft transplantation, he would cut a 3-5mm graft with a hole punch. However, this pencil eraser size graft would be too large. The blood supply would be compromised and the hair in the center would stop growing. It isn’t uncommon for this type of procedure to yield results that featured donut-like circles that looked pluggy and made hair look doll-like. Even the newer mini and micro grafts can leave this unnatural appearance.
3. Scalp Reduction
If a doctor performed a scalp reduction, she would do exactly what you think she would do. She would cut away the balding part of your scalp and stitch together the nearby hair-bearing skin.
Sounds pleasant, right? The accelerated hair loss, unnatural appearance, infection, and hemorrhaging that are associated with this type of hair transplantation are especially fun too. As an added bonus, the skin will eventually stretch back to its original location exposing a mass of visible scar tissue. Move cautiously; this type of procedure can also go by the name of alopecia reduction, galeoplasty, or male pattern reduction.
4. Hair Flap
If a doctor preformed a hair flap, he would cut three sides of a rectangle piece of skin that measures one inch wide and three to seven inches long from your scalp. Then he would twist this flap of skin from the sides to the front of your hairline and stitch it into the balding area.
Did you actually think that sounded like a good idea? Wait until you hear the common side effects. There will always be an unsightly bump where the skin was twisted. You could experience necrosis – a partial or complete death of the flap of skin. The hair from the flap will grow in the opposite direction of the normal hairline. You could experience shock loss and scaring in the donor area. And – the best part – the loosened skin will slouch downwards creating a Frankenstein forehead.
Guest blogger Dr. Mary Tejada is a Tampa hair transplantation specialist. She and her colleagues agree the follicular unit transplantation is the only viable hair restoration method.