Almost 50% of men will experience some degree of hair loss by the age they are 50 and some will start seeing the first signs of hair recess in their early 20s. Like with most things, we take it for granted when it’s there but we miss it once it’s gone. Although hair loss is most common amongst men, females are affected by it as well. It impacts their psychological well being and it even interferes with their daily lives and activities. For these people, a hair transplant can bring back their self-confidence and improve their lifestyle. We speak to Specialist dermato-surgeon Ioannis Papangelopoulos, who successfully performed more than 3,000 hair transplant, to find out more.
How does a Hair Transplant procedure work?
The procedure involves removing healthy hair follicles directly from a donor area on the scalp (usually at the back of the head where the hair is plentiful) and grafting them onto the bald or thinning areas.
Which technique do you use?
Apart from getting the views and desires of the patient, my recommendation would depend mainly on the amount of hair in the donor area. With today’s advancements in the field, state-of-the art techniques have been thoroughly developed for very safe, successful and long lasting, natural looking results with. The procedure can be done in one of three ways, namely Follicle Unit Extraction (FUE), Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Micro-Strip technique.
FUE involves the individual extraction and implantation of each hair follicle one by one, while in the FUT procedure, a very fine strip of skin is removed from the donor area and the individual hairs from the strip are then removed and prepared for transplantation. The Micro-Strip procedure is similar to FUT, but instead of having a long fine strip removed, small fine strips are removed from different areas of the donor area.
Is there any scarring involved after the procedure?
The scarring is so minimal that is easily covered by the surrounding grown hair (less than 1cm length of hair).
Who is a suitable candidate?
If someone has thinning hair, bald spots or a receding hairline then one could consider the Hair Transplant procedure though the candidacy will be determined by the surgeon during a thorough consultation.
What are the contributing factors for a successful hair transplant?
The selection criteria plays a very important part in the outcome of the operation, as do the patient’s expecations, which are carefully assessed during a detailed consultation. The experience and the skill of the surgeon (always check surgeon’s credentials and experience together with surgeon’s personal library of B&A images) is undoubtfully the most important factor. The rest of the details like the asessment of the donor area, medical health, technique used and other details are all discussed and decided upon during the consultation.
What steps do you take to achieve the most natural looking results?
The main idea of a hair transplant is to restore the natural look of the patient. There are four main aspects I take care of.
Colour: If the donor area has patches of white hair, I will randomly spread out the white hairs over the transplant area to give a more natural look.
Hair Direction: I arrange the direction of hair growth of the transplanted hair to match the direction of hair growth of the hair present in the transplant area. That way the new hair will grow in the same direction and would not look out of place.
Number of Hairs per Incision: In the crown of the head I usually implant around three to four hair follicles per incision. This is done to give more density to an area where a feeling of fullness is desired. Closer to the front line, the number of hair follicles per incision diminishes to just one so as to give notable areas a more natural look.
Asymmetry: No person has a natural symmetrical frontal hairline. I explain this to the patient and discuss the design of the new hairline with the patient before the procedure.
How long will the results last?
Hair Transplantation results will last a lifetime. The hair from the donor area is resistant to the factors causing hair loss and thus would not fall off again. However, some patients may need a second surgery, if they continue to lose some of the original hair surrounding the area of transplant, hence the detailed consultation to properly assess the situation and plan accordingly.
Is the procedure painful?
Measures are taken so that the patient is as relaxed as possible during the procedure. A mild sedation is given to minimise any possible discomfort.
What’s the success rate of your patients?
I am proud to confirm that almost 100 per cent of my patients are satisfied with their results.