A hair transplant, also commonly referred to as hair transplant surgery, hair transplantation, surgical hair restoration, and sometimes incorrectly as “hair plug” surgery, is a surgical procedure aimed at treating hair loss; most commonly genetic male pattern hair loss.
During a hair transplant, live hair follicles are moved from the sides and back of the scalp and implanted into areas where the hair has thinned or fallen out. Because these follicles come from your own body, the scalp accepts them and they become a permanent fixture in their new position. These follicles are selected specifically from a defined region on the sides and back of the scalp known as the “permanent donor zone.” These follicles are genetically immune from hair loss and will grow and thrive permanently; even when moved from one region of the scalp to another.
A modern hair transplant procedure is known as follicular unit transplantation because these permanent follicles are moved as “follicular units,” or natural follicle groupings. In other words, the new hairs are transplanted in the exact manner in which they naturally grow in the scalp. This means the results of a hair transplant today are extremely natural and in no way resemble the stalky or “pluggy” results of yesteryear.
Once these permanent follicular units are grafted from the back of the scalp to the bald areas, they “anchor” in their new position and go into a brief resting phase. Several months later the follicles “wake up” and begin growing new hair. For the next 9 months, the follicles go through a “maturation” process. During this process the hair shafts from each follicle become thicker, healthier, and more natural until they final reach their full potential around 12 months after the surgery. Once fully matured, the patient is able to enjoy their new hair and treat the transplants like any other follicle on their scalp. They will continue growing forever and can be cut, dyed, and styled as desired.
A hair transplant procedure is considered minimally invasive. Only local anesthesia (“numbing medication”) is used, and patients are fully awake during the process. The procedure typically takes around 6 hours and is usually very comfortable for patients. The only discomfort patients report is during the numbing process, after which they feel nothing all day. Post-operative recovery is minimal; patients report feeling “back to normal” within a few days and most go back to everyday life within 10-14 days. Those interested in more detail should read our other hair transplant sections or schedule an in-office consultation.