Almost as Cool as Time Travel: How Hair Transplant Surgery Works

man with bald head

You’re no Marty McFly, and time travel isn’t possible—for the most part. While we certainly don’t have a special DeLorean DMC-12 hiding out in our garage, we do have a few tips to get you back to the full head of hair you sported in the past. We can’t give away all of our secrets, but here’s the low-down on how hair transplant surgery works:

What is Hair Transplant Surgery?

Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that moves hair follicles from a healthy area on your scalp to a place that is balding or struggling to grow healthy strong hair. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to complete this, although most involve harvesting the natural hair follicle units, which typically grow in clumps of 1 to 4 follicles. This method is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), also known as strip harvesting; another method is called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), also known as the neo-graft method, in which the hair follicles are harvested individually before being placed. The FUE method is very time-consuming, however, and limits patient candidacy.

Too many acronyms? We made a video to simplify the explanation:

Let’s break down what Dr. Love is saying: essentially, we’re using your own hair to create a healthier hair pattern. We simply move some of the healthy hair you have to an area that is struggling. There’s no hair cloning because we’re not reviving dead hair follicles, and we’re definitely not able to create brand-new ones.

Hair transplant surgery can be used for the hair on your scalp, your eyebrows, your facial hair, or really any other hairy area you would like to see improved. Sometimes, balding is caused by an accident, previous surgery, or even genetic issues; whatever the reason, hair transplant surgery is typically an option. Under local anesthetic, the surgery may take a few hours to complete. Post-surgery, there will be a dressing applied to the transplant area to allow for healing. Most surgeons will recommend that you stay out of the sun and don’t start shampooing until a few days following the surgery.

Don’t panic: you may have hair fall out. The important thing is that your hair follicles do not fall out from scabbing, but instead from “shock loss.” Scabs will form from the surgery, shampooing can help fight against their formation, around the hair follicle, which may result in losing the progress. Shock loss, however, is only the hair—not the follicle—falling out following the trauma of the surgery.

Healthy new hair growth should begin three to nine months following the initial surgery. After a year post-op, you should be able to see a clear difference between your balding scalp and the new growth. You may need to follow up with medication to help prevent further loss or even a second follow-up surgery. Unfortunately, not every hair was created equally: to get a better idea of what you should expect, or to express any concerns you may have, contact us!