19 Important Questions On Hair Transplant Surgery, Answered!
Many people have warmed up to hair transplant surgery because it now has the capacity to create natural-looking results. This is a far cry from how it used to result in decades back! However, surgical success is not a linear path, as there are several factors that come into play. The first would be to ask the right questions.
We’ve done that here in this blog and we’ve answered all 19 of the crucial questions you should be asking! Start your journey by educating yourself with each concern addressed below.
1. Is hair transplant a good solution for hair loss?
For one to consider hair transplant surgery, it’s important to first establish realistic expectations. A hair transplant may be the option that provides a dramatic improvement, but it isn’t necessarily the appropriate intervention in every case. This explains why patient education and proper patient selection is important.
This also highlights the importance of a consultation with a certified hair transplant surgeon to ensure proper guidance. Good practitioners will not always push you towards surgery since there are several factors that must be taken into consideration, such as age, the extent of hair loss, and the cause behind it.
Rushing into surgical intervention thinking that it will ultimately address hair loss may lead to regrettable results. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to think of a hair transplant as a last resort, not the sole solution.
2. At what age is it okay to get a hair transplant?
Hair transplant can be carried out on anyone above the age of 18, and it’s advised to wait it out until you’re 25. Surgical hair restoration is often not the best course of action for younger men because their hair loss pattern hasn’t been established yet. Doing so prematurely may compromise the outcome as hairline recession or balding can still progress.
3. How will I know if I’m a good candidate for a hair transplant?
A thorough evaluation is needed to determine if a person is a suitable candidate for surgery. Factors that determine a person’s suitability for the procedure include
✓ Age – While there is no legal minimum age requirement to get a hair transplant, surgeons would advise patients to wait until they are 25 to decide on the matter. This allows the doctor to analyse the trajectory of hair loss and decide the appropriate course of action.
✓ Baldness Level – The extent of hair loss is taken into consideration because this also determines the amount of available donor hairs. Typically, men whose hair loss has progressed beyond class 3 and above on the Norwood Scale will be good candidates, as long as the hair loss pattern has stabilised. Male pattern baldness that has been progressing for five years will also make you a suitable candidate.
✓ Density of the Donor Area – The success of this procedure will depend on the amount of donor grafts available. If the doctor is unable to find an area in the scalp or the body with enough donor’s hair, the patient will be advised to choose from other hair loss treatment options.
✓ Hair Loss Cause – Not every hair loss case can be fixed by a hair transplant. Some forms of hair loss may be temporary, while others may be corrected by addressing the disease causing it.
✓ Patient’s Health – Since a hair transplant is a surgical procedure, it’s important that a patient is in good physical condition to withstand surgery and successfully recover from it.
✓ Past Failed Hair Loss Treatments – If other hair loss treatments have not worked out for you, it is then that doctors suggest you consider a hair transplant.
✓ Patient’s Expectations – The final outcome that a patient is hoping for is an important factor in considering a hair transplant because as a form of intervention, it also has its limits. Therefore, it is important that before a patient commits to surgery, he must have realistic expectations.
4. What qualifications should my hair transplant surgeon have?
The success of your hair transplant surgery will largely depend on the skills of your surgeon. It has been known that some doctors from other medical majors also dabble in surgical hair restoration. So, you should be keen to look into a practitioner’s relevant training and experience. You can also enquire if they’re affiliated with any professional bodies such as the Asia Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons or the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). Unqualified personnel always carry the risk of delivering poor results.
Even if you are not a suitable candidate for surgery, your hair transplant surgeon may be able to recommend alternative therapies to help hair growth or slow down hair loss.
5. Will there be a doctor present to perform my hair transplant surgery?
It’s a practice in some clinics to have a hair technician do the operation itself. This often explains the cheap prices in some practices, which can be a red flag. Therefore, it’s important that you inquire if a hair transplant surgeon is involved in the procedure and what role they will play. This surgery is a team effort, but you need to clarify if a surgeon is taking the reins.
6. Does the clinic have genuine and unbiased testimonials?
At this point of your journey, patient testimonials and before and after photos can help you get a peek into other’s experiences with a certain surgeon. This information is easily available online. However, due to certain guidelines in Singapore, clinics are not allowed to display their patient portfolio, but you can always ask for it during your consultation.
7. How does a hair transplant work?
During a hair transplant surgery, the surgeon removes the hair follicles from a dense area of hair called the donor area. This can be at the back of the head or other parts of the body. These are then implanted into tiny slits created in the affected area of the scalp.
There are two methods of harvesting hair follicles—Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). FUT is also called the strip method because it involves the removal of a strip of your scalp which contains the donor follicles. FUE is a less invasive approach that we use at our clinic. It’s done by taking individual hair follicles through micropunches using a special tool.
Before the surgery, the surgeon will disinfect the surgical sites and numbs it with a local anaesthetic. You may request sedation so you can be asleep during the procedure.
8. Which is a suitable hair transplant method for me?
There are two hair transplant techniques, FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and the FUE (follicular unit extraction). Each comes with its own objectives and strengths that both patient and doctor should consider.
FUT may put off some patients because it takes longer to heal, and comes with a linear scar. However, it also allows a higher yield of donor grafts and has lesser breakage. FUE, on the other hand, is less invasive and it also creates a good aesthetic outcome because it involves smaller scars.
Besides the patient’s preference, choosing an appropriate technique is also determined by anatomical factors. For instance, patients with tighter scalps will do well with FUE rather than an FUT.
To know for certain which technique is a suitable choice, patients are encouraged to go for an in-person consultation. This allows the doctor to assess the quality of your scalp, the extent of hair loss, and other factors that will help determine the appropriate technique to use. This is also an avenue for you to get into an insightful discussion with the surgeon to narrow down your options leading to the right course of action.
9. Why Choose FUE Over FUT?
FUE has features that make it a favorable option over FUT.
- It is less invasive (incisions that are less than 1mm in diameter).
- It leaves small scars that are easy to conceal with hair.
- Shorter healing time
- Minimal discomfort
- It allows patients to wear their hair short.
While FUT may have its advantages, people are often held back because it leaves a strip of scarred skin that attracts attention and limits hairstyle choices. FUE comes with a promise of “cleaner” results. The Aesthetics and Hair Clinic is one of the few clinics in Singapore today that offers the no-shave FUE. This means that patients no longer have to shave their heads, like how it’s usually done. Rather, they can keep their hair long so that they don’t give anything away about the procedure!
Ultimately, the decision will depend on other factors besides one’s personal preference. That would include price, structural limitations, and available donor grafts.
10. What do I need to do before my surgery?
Depending on the type of hair transplant approach you chose, you may have to do some preoperative preparations. This includes the following instructions:
- Avoid using hair products or getting specialist hair care treatments in the days before your surgery.
- Wash your hair thoroughly the night or morning before your surgery. Check with your surgeon if you need to use special shampoos.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or take vitamin E supplements at least 7 days prior to surgery.
- It’s safer to skip your coffee on the day of your surgery.
- If you’re diabetic, discuss with your surgeon how you can handle your diet and insulin management on the day of your surgery.
11. What can I expect from this procedure?
A hair transplant procedure requires a meticulous process of donor harvesting and implantation. This means that the surgical process will take hours to complete. The surgeon must carefully harvest donor grafts to ensure that they will still be viable for implantation. They will carefully arrange these grafts on the recipient sites to create a natural-looking outcome.
Don’t expect immediate results after the surgery. It will take months for these new grafts to grow and achieve the desired coverage.
The transplanted hair may shed again around 2-8 weeks after an FUT or FUE surgery. It occurs when the new grafts enter the resting phase of the hair cycle, causing them to shed, specifically along the recipient area. Don’t be alarmed if this happens because it’s part of the healing process, and healthy hairs will eventually grow in their place.
If there is anything to look forward to in a hair transplant procedure, that is the gift of natural-looking results. However, this is not a given. Patients must see to it that they prepare well enough to ensure a safe and satisfactory outcome. That entails choosing an experienced and board-certified surgeon who can properly assess and address your hair loss concerns.
12. How much recovery time is needed?
Generally, the recovery time for an FUE hair transplant takes around 2 weeks, during which, your hair transplants will scab over and then fall off by themselves. To avoid any complications, you need to follow your surgeon’s guidelines on aftercare, sleeping positions, and safe hair products to use so you can heal properly. Your surgeon will provide more advice according to your specific case.
13. Will people notice that I had something done to my hair?
This will depend on the extent of the coverage you want or are able to achieve. What is important is that a good surgeon will prioritise natural-looking results. This means, if you are in your 50’s, he will not create the hairline of a 20-year-old.
For concerns about scarring, patients prefer a FUE approach over FUT so that any reminders of the procedure are as inconspicuous as possible. As techniques are refined, it is even possible for hair to grow over the scar in the donor area.
14. How long does it take for hair to grow back?
Transplanted hair typically begins growing back in about 3-4 months. You can expect 10-80 percent of hair growth by then. Around 10 months, your hair will grow long enough to be styled or trimmed.
15. Will I need more hair transplant sessions in the future?
There’s a possibility that you may need more than one session. The need for it will depend on a case by case basis. According to the ISHRS, “patients should have a clear understanding of the time commitment necessary to achieve their desired results.” Depending on the extent of your hair loss, multiple sessions may be required due to the limited amount of grafts that can be harvested for each session, or further hair loss progression.
A second session may also be needed if you’ve had botched surgery. This can be avoided by carefully choosing your hair transplant surgeon. When you’re dealing with finite resources, you need to ensure that you make the effort so that the first session will go without a hitch.
Call us today at +65 6235 0010 to book an appointment.
16. Are there any hair transplant risks I should know about?
As a surgical procedure, a hair transplant runs the risk of infection. The break in the skin’s integrity can provide an entry point for bacteria which is why proper surgical technique and aftercare is important. Swelling and bleeding are also accompanying risks due to scalp trauma made by the incisions. Numbness or lack of sensation in the treated areas of the scalp is also a possibility because of this.
Settling for dubious practitioners may also put you at risk of growing unnatural-looking tufts of hair. So, those interested in getting a hair transplant should take the extra effort to research their hair transplant doctor carefully. While risks are present, they are also avoidable.
17. Can I stop taking my hair loss medications if I get a hair transplant?
It is understood that before an individual even considers hair transplant surgery, he has first tried other methods of hair restoration. Pharmacologic treatment prescribes hair loss victims. These are given to slow down or stop the progression of hair loss and to promote hair growth.
Practitioners advise patients to continue taking their medications even after surgery to retain the benefits that these provide.
18. Can I expect pain after a hair transplant?
Pain is a normal response to physical trauma. The incisions created, no matter how small, can elicit a painful response once the anaesthetic has worn off. However, doctors will prescribe pain medication as part of your post-operative care.
The initiative to educate yourself about hair transplant surgery is an important step towards surgical success. Let’s admit it, this surgery is no drop in the bucket for most of us, so it is only right that you go into it fully prepared.
19. What are my options if I’m not entirely satisfied with the outcome of my hair transplant surgery?
It is true that a hair transplant can’t come with a guarantee. You may have come across some clinics that offer a guarantee certificate, but that shouldn’t be the case. There are multiple factors that can affect a successful operation, and a good chunk of it is related to the way you follow the post-surgical aftercare. When you have a poor result, some clinics offer a free touch-up session. However, this comes after a thorough assessment is done. Talk to your surgeon about this during a consultation so you will know what your remedies are should anything go awry.
Dr. Tyng Tan has completed her fellowship training by the ISHRS (International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery) at one of 5 training centers in the world.
Going For A Hair Transplant? Don’t Miss to Ask Your Surgeon These 12 Questions! Download our checklist today >> 12 Important Questions to Ask Before A Hair Transplant
- Rogers NE, “Hair transplant update.” Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2015 Jun;34:89-94.
- Gupta AK, Danika CA et al. “Progression of surgical hair restoration techniques.” J Cutan Med Surg. 2015 Jan-Feb;28(1):17-21.
- Yohei, T., et. al. “Androgenetic alopecia treatment in asian men.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2018 Jul; 11(7): 32–35.
- A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural-looking results. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-transplant
- Before you choose a surgeon (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ishrs.org/before-you-choose-a-surgeon/
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Dr Tyng Tan Aesthetics and Hair Clinic
391B Orchard Road Ngee Ann City Tower B, #08-04, Singapore 238874
Phone: (65) 6235 0010
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