Although hair can begin to recede at any time after puberty, men and women likely won’t even be aware of the problem until it becomes noticeable. At this stage, their reaction may be one of alarm, or depression, or frustration.
Their thoughts may delve into the realm of resigned acceptance as if nothing can be done to reverse the process of time. And this is sad because the truth is much different. Hair loss can indeed be treated. The two primary methods for doing so are called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
Today we’ll discuss the timeline of the latter with San Francisco hair transplant doctor, Dr. Parsa Mohebi. If you’ve recently noticed signs of pattern baldness on your scalp, don’t despair. Shown below is what an FUE transplant procedure can do for you.
FUE in the beginning
FUE has been in use since 1988. Dr. Masumi Inaba used a 1MM needle to extract healthy hair follicles from one part of the patient’s body and place them in the treatment area. Huge strides have been made with the procedure since those long-ago days of colorful clothes and bubble-gum pop. Today FUE can even be performed—in part, at least—by a robot.
In any case, on your first consultation, your doctor will probably show you examples of other patients who’ve successfully undergone FUE treatment. He or she will also make certain you are physically suitable for the transplant, then provide an estimate as to how many grafts it will take to restore your hair.
From this point, a surgery date is set. You’ll get a chance to view different hairline options and choose which one you like best. The surgery itself involves shaving an area of the scalp where healthy hair still grows, then going under the skin to remove each follicle for transplant one strand at a time.
A local anesthetic is used, so typically the patient barely feels a thing. Tiny, vacant dots will be left behind where the donor hair once grew, but these will heal, and be covered by the hair still growing around it. More tiny incisions are then made in the bald area of the scalp so the follicles can be inserted.
Each surgery can last from 4 to 10 hours, depending on your level of hair loss.
FUE after surgery
The clinic will give you a hair wash the next day, then teach you how to wash it yourself during the delicate weeks just after surgery. For the first week of recovery, you’ll likely be advised to stay home from work; this helps prevent newly transplanted follicles from being unduly exposed to environmental effects.
The early part of your healing process may also be somewhat painful or, as the anesthesia wears off, numb. This is a normal phase of transplant surgery, for which doctors sometimes prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol.
FUE healing and new hair growth
About one month after the procedure, you should notice that the transplanted hair has begun to disengage. Or simply put, it’s falling out. It’s exactly what is supposed to happen, so don’t worry. In fact, what you’re seeing is a prime indicator of new hair growth. Over the months that follow you will see these new hairs getting thicker and thicker.
Breaking down the FUE timeline
Here is how everything will pan out, beginning with the day after your surgery
- Day one after surgery, you’ll be shown how to wash your hair
- Soreness or numbness is normal
- Day two-three, the treated area may be red with mild swelling
- This is also normal
- After one week, the swelling and soreness will have mostly disappeared
- After two weeks, you will begin to lose the transplanted hair
- Resume normal shampooing, brushing, combing
- After one month, the transplanted follicles are gone, and you will look much the way you did before surgery
- New hair will soon sprout from beneath the treated area of the scalp
- After five to nine months new hair growth in the treated area is growing strong and thick
- After ten months your doctor may request a follow-up to assess how things are going, and whether a second operation is necessary
- Over the next one to two years, the new hair continues to thicken (success!)
Hair loss isn’t something we have to live with. Today’s technology has given us many ways to counter the problem, and often, FUE proves to be the safest, most reliable choice. Discuss it with your doctor to find out more.