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Understanding Surgical Hair Restoration

Some people have naturally thick hair, and some don't. How does this factor into a successful hair transplant?

Hair density is the number of hair follicles you have per square centimeter of scalp. A related factor is scalp laxity, the flexibility and looseness of your scalp. More grafts of hair can be transplanted when your hair density is high and the scalp laxity is high.

How does the direction in which your hair naturally grows affect your hair transplant?

Coarse hair is bulkier and can therefore be transplanted using fewer hairs per graft since it gives more coverage of the scalp. Fine hair has fewer bulbs and can give a very natural look but less coverage than coarser hair. Wavy and curly hair lends itself to good visual results in transplantation because a single wavy or curly hair curls on itself, covering more scalp area than straight hair. Curly hair also rises from the scalp and holds its shape, and these factors also give the appearance of greater coverage.

Does hair color or skin color play a role in hair transplantation?

The closer your hair color is to your skin color, the better the appearance of the hair's coverage. African hair is dark and very curly and therefore provides the least contrast against various shades of dark skin, giving the best visual hair transplant results.

From a visual point of view, people with dark, straight hair and a light complexion pose the most artistic challenges in hair transplantation because they have the most contrast between their hair and skin shades.

What are some other visual considerations?

When designing your procedure, your doctor must keep in mind your future hair loss pattern and the rate of potential hair loss. The design of your restored hairline is crucial. Natural front hairlines vary in shape and density from person to person. Your doctor will choose the recipient sites for the transplanted hair based upon an overall design that may take more than one hair transplant session to achieve. These sessions typically take place months or even years apart, depending on the progression of your hair loss.

How do doctors decide which part of my head will receive the transplanted hair?

The front and top of your head will receive transplanted hair first because these are the areas that frame your face and make the most impact on your appearance. The crown is usually the last area to receive hair (in later procedures), unless it's your only balding area.

How many procedures will I need?

The number of procedures depends upon the extent of your hair loss, the projected hair loss rate, the amount of donor hair you can spare, and other artistic and medical considerations.

Men can often have the results they're looking for in just one or two hair transplant sessions, when thousands of hairs are transplanted in follicular units of one to four hairs each. Women need more sessions to achieve proper density. These sessions can last between five and ten hours each. Future sessions can follow if necessary.

WebMD Medical Reference from the American Hair Loss Association

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