Over the years, the hair transplant grew out of its reputation for creating the “pluggy” look. Looking like a really obvious hair plug is what caused this type of treatment to gain wide notoriety in hair restoration circles. However, not everything is certain. Interested patients must still make an effort to prepare themselves for surgical success. Finding your way here is a good start because we’re giving you the answers to a dozen questions that a lot of patients have thrown our way.
How does a hair transplant work?
Hair transplant is an elective surgical procedure where donor hair grafts are harvested from the patient’s own scalp or any part of the body, then transplanted into bald or thinning areas. It is done to address male pattern baldness (MPB) or androgenetic hair loss.
Hairs from the back of the scalp are the usual donor grafts since they are resistant to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone responsible for MPB. These hairs are genetically programmed to grow even in severe cases. This process can take a full year for you to appreciate the results.
Why does it take a full year to achieve full hair growth?
Hair transplant is not an instant cure for hair loss because the growth of transplanted hair must go through cycles, which takes a long time. Each hair in the different areas of your head also grows in different rates at one time. This explains why full growth can be observed over a duration of around 10 months to a year.
Is a hair transplant the be-all and end-all for hair restoration?
For one to consider hair transplant surgery, it’s important to first establish realistic expectations. A hair transplant may be the option that provides 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.
How do I know if I am 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 candidacy 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.
• 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.
How do I know which hair transplant technique is appropriate for me?
There are two hair transplant techniques, FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and the FUE (follicular unit extraction). Each comes with their 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.
How much does a hair transplant cost in Singapore?
There is no fixed price for a hair transplant procedure. Since we aim to customise our approach, we don’t believe that a successful outcome can be achieved with a fixed package.
The required number of grafts vary for each patient. However, we can estimate an average cost – which is between S$8,000-S$12,000 in Singapore. This is looking at the average number of grafts needed which is 2,000, at S$5 per graft.
Aside from the number of grafts needed, the technique used to harvest them will also affect the price.
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 avoid damage. They must also arrange these grafts properly on the recipient sites to ultimately create a natural-looking outcome.
Even after the surgery is over, you won’t be able to expect a pleasing outcome right away because it will take months for these new grafts to grow and achieve the desired coverage.
Shock loss will also hit you along the way, which is 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. This is not a cause for alarm because this is a normal 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 safe and satisfactory results.
Will it be obvious that I had something done?
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.
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, for 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.
Why Choose FUE Over FUT?
FUE has its features that makes 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.
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 prescribe 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.
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.
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If you have more questions or if you are still on the fence about it, we can get into an honest discussion on the matter. Schedule your consultation today with Dr. Tyng Tan, one of Singapore’s female hair transplant surgeons who is trained and experienced to do the no-shave FUE procedure.
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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.
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