Types of hair loss surgery - Which one is right for me?
Even more than skin wrinkling, “liver” spots and a “spare tire,” hair loss can be one of the most distressing signs of aging. Medical science, while it has treatments, does not yet have a cure for hair loss. Plastic surgeons have developed several techniques for restoring hair, each with advantages and disadvantages. The type of hair loss surgery that is right for you depends on factors like your degree of hair loss, future cosmetic surgery goals, and your particular hair type. We look at three of the available options for hair loss surgery and the types of patients that will be suited to each.
Scalp flap procedure
The scalp flap procedure, especially the technique set out by Fleming and Mayer, is a popular choice for patients suffering from androgenic alopecia. Scalp flap surgery for hair loss will usually take around 3 to 4 procedures, aside from post operative assessments and check ups. In the first two procedures, no hair is moved - the first appointment involves a patient assessment and discussion about the procedure. At this appointment the surgeon marks the flap and makes incisions ¾ of the way around the flap. The incisions are closed immediately and dressed at the first appointment. At the second appointment, the tail of the flap has incisions made around the edges. Two weeks later, the flap is actually transferred to the front of the scalp. For patients who expect to have further hair loss, a second flap can be transplanted after about three month’s time.
With this type of hair loss surgery, there is minimal recovery time - dressings are worn for three to four days, and there is no temporary hair loss. The scalp flap procedure is suitable for men who have been balding for more than 5 years, or are classified as a Norwood level 3 or higher. The patient needs to maintain realistic expectations about the degree of hair restoration in this type of hair loss surgery, however.
Follicular unit micrografts
Follicular unit micrografts are one of the best available types of hair loss surgery. There are thousands of individual skin grafts transplanted in just one surgical session. The units contain one to four hairs each, and the procedure is performed with unusually sharp, custom-designed blades. The final result depends enormously on how effectively the surgeon can imitate natural hair growth patterns. Patients considering this procedure should ensure that their surgeon has plenty of experience in hair-restoration surgery before considering this approach. With unit-by-unit transfer, there is a rather large margin for error.
Follicular unit extraction
Follicular unit extraction is another type of hair loss surgery. The approach is minimally invasive, but takes quite a large amount of time. Micropunches are used, alternating between blunt and sharp-dissecting variations, which are used to extract follicular units from a donor area, one by one. This surgery is often recommended for younger male patients who may endure advancing hair loss. It can be relatively costly, however, due to its labor-intensive nature and the extensive amount of time required by the plastic surgeon.