Thinning and receding hair pleases no one – except perhaps Sir Patrick Stewart, who is definitely pulling it off. If, however, you are not the fabled actor, you’re probably wondering just what your options are when it comes to hair replacement. Luckily, transplant technology has come a long way in the past several decades. Clumsy hair plugs and older techniques have been replaced with automated technology and scientific breakthroughs that stand to revolutionize the world of hair transplantation.
Follicle Unit Transplantation
Commonly referred to as the strip procedure, follicular unit transportation (FUT) means that all the follicle units are harvested from a single strip along the middle of the donor area. This requires removal of an entire piece of scalp along the back of the patient’s head.
Originally, the hair harvested had a plug-like effect because it was re-implanted in relatively large chunks up to a few millimeters across. As technology has advanced, allowing surgeons to implant hair in smaller and smaller sections, the procedure has come to look more natural.
Follicle Unit Extraction
A newer procedure, follicle unit extraction (FUE) is much less invasive than FUT. Rather than cutting a strip of scalp away from the patient’s skull, surgeons use FUE to remove follicles directly from the scalp a few hairs at a time. FUE does have some disadvantages – most notably, a higher attrition rate of implanted hair. Because hair is partially removed from zones more prone to hair loss and because follicles are not as well protected during transplant, patients should expect to lose more hair after the procedure. Specialists use robotic technology to remove the hair.
Follicle Hair Cloning
As opposed to traditional hair relocation techniques, which simply move hair from one part of the patient’s scalp to another, hair cloning is the first transplant technology that promises to grow entirely new hair. Although it is still in its infancy, this technique involves taking samples from a patient’s head, multiplying the resulting hair cells in a lab culture, and then transplanting them back to the patient, explains Medical News Today. Once mainstream, this process will require far less of the patient’s actual hair, minimizing the invasiveness and healing time of the process, and maximizing comfort and discretion.
Minimizing Hair Loss
Before you go the surgery route, of course, it’s worth looking into the myriad noninvasive treatments available today. Silicone, for instance, is a great product for thinning hair. By coating hair in a layer of strengthening silicone (a fantastic, natural-feeling substance that leaves hair shiny and is also the main ingredient in popular “gummy bear” breast implants), you give your hair the best chance of withstanding breakage and remaining on your scalp.
Several pharmaceuticals that specifically address hair regrowth are also available, so you may want to look into them. While hair loss is unfortunate, technological advances mean that it’s not necessarily permanent – and that’s very good news.
Contact our office for a consultation if you’d like to discuss hair transplant options.