Hair Transplant Overview
Hair transplantation is a sophisticated, refined process that involves moving hair from one part of the body (usually the back of the scalp where there is an abundance of donor’s hair) to an area where it is thinning or balding (alopecia).
Since the 1950s, hair has been successfully transplanted from the back of the scalp to the other areas of the scalp. The technique has evolved into an ultra-refined process of harvesting the hair, preparing the individual follicular units, and delicately transplanting the hair to the desired site for a very natural appearance.
At the Gabel Hair Restoration Center, Dr. Gabel and his team specialize in treating men and women who are looking to maintain and restore their living, and growing hair by utilizing the most modern and proven hair transplant techniques. In the following video, Dr. Steven Gabel describes a typical hair transplant day at his Portland Hair Restoration Center. This video is pertinent for both Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) and linear strip harvest (FUT) techniques.
What Happens On Hair Transplant Day?
Follicular Unit Transplantation
FUT, sometimes known as strip harvest surgery is a surgical procedure where naturally occurring bundles of hair, called follicular units, are transplanted from the donor area to the area of the scalp afflicted with alopecia, known as the recipient area. Follicular units are the most natural way to harvest grafts from the scalp. Follicular unit bundles may contain 1, 2, 3, or more hairs. When transplanted, the follicular units are then arranged in a pattern that emphasizes naturalism: the frontal hairline will receive the single hair units for a soft hairline, and the central area of the scalp will have the larger 3- or 4-hair follicular units to create a denser appearance behind them.
In the FUT procedure, Dr. Gabel and the patient will review the surgical plan and map out the area that will be transplanted. In the procedure room, the back of the scalp will be numbed, and Dr. Gabel will personally remove a thin strip of tissue that has been calculated at an appropriate size for the needs of the given procedure.
The tissue is then examined, and the individual follicular units are separated using precise stereo-microscopic dissection techniques. While this is occurring, Dr. Gabel will make small openings in the scalp in the recipient site where the grafts will be inserted.
In contrast to FUT, Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) is a technique where the individual follicular units are excised one by one from the scalp. In this procedure, instead of making an incision and removing a strip of scalp, a round scalpel punch is used to make a circular incision around the follicular units allowing them to be excised one by one. The follicular units are then examined under the high-powered microscope and trimmed as needed. They are then placed into the recipient sites that Dr. Gabel has created.
Hair Transplant Recovery FAQs
When can I resume all my medications?
You should have received a medical reconciliation form when you left the office. If you have questions about this, contact Dr. Gabel, and he will discuss when you can resume your medications.
What can I eat after the procedure?
Immediately after the procedure, I would not eat very spicy foods — you want to drink plenty of liquids and eat food that you commonly eat that does not upset your stomach. The following day, there are no restrictions on the type of food you may eat.
I noticed some of the hair shafts coming out after the first week. Is this normal?
This is expected. After the hair transplant, the hairs go into a shock phase where the hair shafts come out. If you do not notice any bleeding, that means the follicle is intact and everything is proceeding normally.
How long does it take for the hair to grow?
The final results of a hair transplant are not realized for about 1.5 years. About 90% of the hair will be growing by one year, but I’ve seen it take longer. This is the time for patience.
When can I start drinking alcohol?
Once you are off your antibiotics and pain medications, you may resume drinking alcoholic beverages.
When can I start exercising after my procedure?
The concern with exercise is three-fold. First, you want to keep the transplanted area clean and not exert pressure on the scalp, which may dislodge the grafts. Secondly, the donor area is healing. Straining or stretching the back of the neck may predispose to a wider scar, and should be avoided. In general, exercises such as sit-ups (especially with your hands clasped behind your head), squats, or bench presses will strain the back of the neck and should be avoided for at least four weeks post-op. Finally, you don’t want to sweat on the donor or grafted areas as this may cause an infection.nnIf the back of the neck feels tight after four weeks, or if you tend to heal with wide scars, these activities should be avoided for two months. Exercises such as walking up an incline, lifting very light weights, and isolated leg exercises may be started within a few days after your procedure if you feel up to it. You may perform limited low-stress daily activities and easy exercise for the next 14 days. Since the impact of exercise will vary greatly from person to person, “cookbook” recommendations are not possible. nnRemember, the donor wound will not regain its full strength for at least 3 – 6 months after hair transplant surgery, so a reasonable degree of caution should be exercised during this period. You must use your own good judgment and call us if you have questions.
When can I take a shower after my transplant?
You may shower at any time. Immediately after surgery, make sure that the surgical areas are covered so water does not touch the surgical site. After that, follow the instructions above on how to care for the grafted area and the donor area.
There are several reasons to perform FUE on a patient, the most common being the ability for patients to cut their hair very short without seeing a linear scar in the donor area. Dr. Gabel has tremendous experience with the FUE technique and has been performing it longer than any physician or other practice in the Pacific Northwest. Ultimately, the most important goal of the procedure is to produce a natural result that satisfies the goals and expectations of the patient.