Hair loss among men is an increasingly common issue. You might be surprised to learn that around 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from hair loss. The American Hair Loss Association reports that 95% of hair loss in men is the result of a hereditary condition known as male pattern baldness. By age 21, 25% of men with male pattern baldness have experienced some hair loss. By the age of 50, a full 85% of American men have thinning hair.
Fortunately, these statistics don’t have to mean that a bald or balding scalp is inevitable. There are many hair restoration options that deliver anything from complete follicle transplantation to a subtle shadow of hair that mimics a natural hairline. Find out which option is best for you.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular unit extraction is a hair restoration procedure in which individual hair follicles are transplanted from a donor site to the area of thinning hair. A local anesthetic numbs the area while the surgeon meticulously performs follicle graft excisions using a micro-punch tool. An experienced surgeon can carefully select the follicles that are healthiest and most likely to survive the transplant procedure.
The micropunches used for this procedure are extremely small, typically measuring just 0.6 to 0.8 mm. Though the process may leave a tiny white scar, this is usually too minuscule for others to notice.
Depending on the scope of the treatment and the surgeon’s experience level, the FUE process may take anywhere from one to eight hours. Most treatment sessions are between two and four hours long. Some patients return for repeat treatments to complete all of the transplants.
The recovery process from FUE is quick and relatively painless. This is an outpatient procedure that allows patients to go home the same day. After the transplant, recovery takes about five to 10 days. Patients are advised to avoid exercise and any activity that would immerse the head in water for at least a week. Hair regrowth is usually visible in about four to six months. It may take up to a year to see full results.
Not all patients are eligible for FUE. This procedure works best for those who have thinning hair on the top or front of the head and thick hair in the back.
Surgeons should perform a FOX test before scheduling any FUE procedure. The FOX test involves taking around 100 grafts and evaluating the number of complete and incomplete follicular units. The FOX test delivers grades of FOX 1 through 5. Patients with a FOX 4 or FOX 5 score are ineligible for FUE. Those with a score of FOX 1 are prime candidates. Surgeons must use their discretion when determining whether to perform FUE on FOX 2 or FOX 3 patients.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Follicular unit transplantation involves removing a strip of skin from the back or side of the head from which to extract individual hair follicles. This strip is typically 0.4 to 0.6 inches wide. The length depends on the number of follicles required for the transplant. After removing the skin, the surgeon must close the wound with stitches or staples that will leave a long, thin scar. Patients can easily conceal this scar by keeping their hair at least half an inch in length.
Once the strip of skin has been removed, a technician carefully extracts the individual hair follicles from it and prepares them for transplantation. The surgeon then inserts these hair follicles into the balding area in a natural-looking pattern. A local anesthetic is used for the procedure. Some patients may also elect to take a sedative. The procedure itself may take between four and 12 hours.
Initial recovery from the FUT procedure typically takes 10 to 12 days. Patients usually notice results within six to nine months, though it can take up to a year.
The best patients for FUT are those over the age of 25 with a Norwood pattern of hair loss, where the hair recedes from the hairline at the forehead first. This is followed later by hair loss on the top of the head. Those with less contrast between their skin color and hair color are also preferred candidates for FUT. Though the recovery time is slightly longer for FUT, the total procedural time is shorter, and this hair restoration treatment usually costs less than FUE.
Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)
Scalp micropigmentation is the process of depositing pigment into the scalp to create the illusion of a shadow from hair. When used to fill in thinning areas amid longer hair, SMP can create the illusion of a fuller head of hair. Used on a bald scalp, SMP creates the appearance of a recently shorn buzz cut. Some patients also use SMP to cover scarring from FUE or FUT treatments.
The process of SMP is similar to microblading or tattooing. However, this isn’t considered a tattoo because the ink does not penetrate the skin as deeply. SMP is considered semipermanent. The pigmentation typically lasts for about eight years, but it lightens progressively over this period of time.
Each SMP treatment takes around four or five hours. Most patients get three or four treatments, scheduled a few weeks apart, to properly layer the pigmentation. After each SMP treatment, you must avoid washing your scalp or sweating excessively for four days. After the fourth day, you must moisturize regularly. Patients need to avoid swimming, saunas, steam rooms, and sunlight for at least 28 days after each treatment.
SMP does not regrow your hair, so it’s not an effective treatment if you want longer or thicker hair on your head. Rather, this approach is best for individuals who want to either mask a small amount of thinning or keep a bald head that still retains the appearance of a hairline.
Speaking with a professional hair restoration specialist is the best way to determine which treatment is best for you. Get a quick assessment at Maxim to learn more about your options and get on the path to satisfying hair restoration.