Medical knowledge is forever advancing. Since time immemorial, dedicated scientists and doctors have been researching hard to make the life of the public better, either physically or mentally. Over the recent century, trends pointing towards the importance of research on cosmetic surgeries have been developing as well. In 1930, a Japanese breakthrough in dermatology emerged – the technique of inserting skin grafts containing hair follicles into another balding part of the body.
The genetic makeup of each individual hair follicle is one-of-a-kind, helping it maintain it’s original properties despite being transplanted to another site; this includes their perpetual growth. Initially, there were a lot of flaws in the method of hair transplant – hair grafts looking apparently fake, resembling the hair of a doll’s. It never looked natural. That has changed a lot in recent years, of course.
With the dawning of the 1980s, many surgeons started recommending dramatic ways to improve hair transplantation, not only the procedure, but the problem of male pattern baldness itself. They came to the realization that it was progressive.
This changed many things, as prior to their revelation, the same surgical technique was used for all the stages of male pattern baldness. The classification of each of these stages is a quintessential component to process of hair restoration. What is appropriate for one balding person may not be suitable for another one. This is why it became important to segregate the different stages of male pattern baldness, based on the amount of hair remaining and to which areas it has spread.
The true complex nature of male pattern baldness had not come to light until recently, as it continues with fluctuating intensity levels over the course of one’s life. It is an almost drastic change each time, building up to an increasingly expanding balding area and an unfortunate end for your hair.
This is why surgeons need to carefully consider the appropriate surgical procedure for each individual person, depending on what stage of baldness they are approaching. The worst-case scenario always needs to be kept in mind before attempting to match it with a surgical technique.
This is why the patients consultation becomes of primary importance. Patients may not have all the knowledge they require before they go in for a surgery. This is why it is of utmost importance to understand if you are a patient that, while the surgeon will do all that is in his capacity to help achieve your objectives, you need to keep your goals realistic and have down to earth expectations of the procedure. Admittedly, patients going in for a hair transplant are presumed to be smart enough to understand and accept that fact. You wouldn’t even get your car washed by a stranger, so is it really wise to leave an extensive surgical procedure on you in the hands of a stranger without any prior consultation?
It is natural for a patient to be on edge during their primary consultations. Anyone who is looking for a hair transplant has come to the conclusion that their genes have played a cruel joke on them, as their hair fall seems relentless. They have become accustomed to seeing more than a just a few extra hairs on their brush or their sink in the morning. Maintaining a sympathetic approach towards the patients during the consultation is very crucial for a surgeon as well. It becomes the role of the surgeon to dissuade patients having over the top expectations from their cosmetic surgery.
This could also be done by providing brochures beforehand, or even adding a separate, well-detailed FAQs section on your website. This could include ‘before/after’ type photos displaying the changes that past patients have underwent and how much hair will remain on the bald area following the surgery. This is a good scale of comparison for potential patients, as it is a display of real results, without setting high expectations. It gives a good grasp of what can or cannot be done for the person.
The surgeon needs to be scrupulous in his examination of the scalp. The decision of assessing the number of grafts required off of the donor area is essential to ensure a smooth surgery. A number of factors come into play, including:
The surgeon needs to ensure there is no inconsistency in hair colour and skin colour. Depending on the colour of the patients skin, their hair transplant difficulty varies. This is because there arises a contrast between dark hair and light scalp.
The hair already existing on the donor area is what will determine the density of the hair on the recipient area after the graft. This is because the density is directly influenced by the number of hair follicles. A greater availability means a graft of much higher density. This also means that the amount of area removed from the donor area is also reduced. The surgeon needs to carefully study the entire scalp area before deciding what the suitable hair density is for the patient.
Another very essential aspect for a surgeon to consider before a transplant procedure is the texture of the patients’ hair. If a patient has rough hair, it tends to look full. However, on occasion it could also bear a tufted appearance. On the other hand, a person with smooth-flowing hair would lean towards a more ‘natural’ look.
As discussed earlier, male pattern baldness is a progressive disease. This is why age plays it’s part as a huge deciding factor towards determining the type of surgical procedure that a patient should undergo. The surgeon needs to work in anticipation of the stage of balding that a patient could reach later on, depending on how many more years it could continue. It is a volatile, ever-lasting process and could suddenly show a rise in the later stages of human life.
Hair transplantation is an extensive topic and is yet to be researched completely. With the latest advances in ‘robotic hair transplantation’, it is a wide field. Hopefully, there will come better, faster ways to do it in the future.