Clients often ask us where the hair for their hair transplant comes from. They ask in a never-ending variety of unique and sometimes hilarious ways. Do you use animal hair? Do you make your hair in a lab? Can I use hair from my brother or another person? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding no, both a Follicular Unit transplant (FUT) and a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure utilize your own natural hair from the back and sides of the head. Hair that will grow, flow, look, and feel just like the hair you have in other areas of the scalp.
Some patients ask if we can use body hair for their transplant and the answer is yes, you can, but not without a serious shortfall. A follicular unit on the scalp typically contains 1-4 hairs. Body hairs, on the other hand, are mostly singular hairs and the texture is vastly different from the head. This is an issue because your scalp is perfectly imperfect in terms of nature’s aesthetic design (with exception to the imperfectly imperfect hair loss). The variety of different hairs per unit make up the appearance of natural flow, texture, and density, so attempting to replace that with a transplant full of single hairs will not result in a dense appearance. The only area where you will predominantly see singular hairs on the scalp is the most frontal portion of the hairline.
Now, let’s imagine that you are standing on the road looking into a deep forest and you look at the forest floor at the very start of the woods. There you can see the forest bed, right? Now, as you look deeper into the forest, it begins to blend into a variety of trees, shapes, and sizes, creating the natural beauty of a flowing forest. Now imagine looking at the same forest, from the same perspective, but now the trees are all identical, with one trunk and one branch, and they are packed together as tightly as your imagination can squeeze them. It would look weird and unnatural, right? Of course it would, and it would look the same if it were your hair.
Another major consideration here is that 70-85% of your scalp and facial hair are in the anagen (growth) cycle for 2-6 years, spending anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months in the telogen (resting/fallout) cycle. Opposingly, 70-80% of body hair is in the telogen phase, which lasts 12-24 weeks, with a growth cycle of only 16 weeks. That means the hair transplanted from the body spends very little time present. So you would only see a maximum of 20% of those body hairs rearing their improper textured heads at any given time. So not only are the number of hairs significantly less, but you are also taking a 50-65% deduction from visible results.
I think you probably get the drift here, but I can’t leave this discussion without sharing our favorite infrequently asked question & comment by men:
“I know I don’t have a lot of donor hair in the back, but what about using my pubic hair? I always shave it anyway.” To which I reply most scientifically, “the only thing that you’ll accomplish by using your pubes is the appearance of an actual dickhead.”
All jokes aside, body hair is not of the same quality, texture and density as scalp hair.
Also, hair is an organ, so you cannot use the hair of another human or animal. Your body would recognize it as a foreign invader and act with haste to kill it. This would likely cause inflammation and tissue damage that would perpetuate further hair loss. Furthermore, there is a very high risk of infection when you use another person’s hair or even artificial, bio fiber hair implants which can have an astoundingly high rate of infection (up to 10%).
Now that we’ve covered where you can’t take donor hair from, let’s move onto where your donor area is located and why we pull hair from that area.
The donor area is located from the midline of your ears, around the back of the head, below the crown, but above the nape of the neck:
Using this general area, many clinicians will make a visual estimate based on their years of experience, and they are often spot on. However, there is a scientific method for determining a graft count and how many units can be safely harvested. The goal is that when the harvested area heals, it looks virtually identical to the day you first walked in. Yes, it may be a bit thinner, depending on the no. of grafts extracted. There are a few important factors to consider when analyzing the donor area. The number of extractable units relative to density, the number of hairs per unit, and the size of the donor area are critical considerations for how much hair you can donate. In most cases, a person can afford to donate around 6,000 grafts, give or take, which could be done in two to three transplants.
Another reason that these hairs are used for a transplant is due to the natural resiliency of these follicles. The hair in the donor areas of the scalp are usually non-responsive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a metabolite of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which causes androgenic alopecia (pattern baldness). That means that transplanted hairs are essentially permanent, so long as there is nothing else inducing trauma to the follicles.
During follicular unit extraction, popularly known as FUE (the No Stitch, No Linear Scar method), the entire hair follicle is removed and transplanted. Areas of one to four hairs are removed and then placed in the area where baldness is occurring. Since the hair follicle itself has been removed, hair most likely won’t grow back. Fortunately, this FUE procedure is very strategic, and the physician or clinician carefully removes the grafts from the donor area and spreads them across the entire donor area. This method means that the extracted follicles are hardly noticeable since they’re taken from an area with a dense amount of hair.
In follicular unit transplantation, also known as FUT, the physician surgically removes the hair from the donor area. The strips are very thin and long so that sutures and linear scarring are minimal. Hair will regrow around the area closest to the scar first, and eventually, parts of the scar may be covered in hair regrowth.
The recovery period after a hair transplant varies depending upon which technique was used. For follicular unit extraction, or FUE, you should be back to normal working activity within a couple of days. Full recovery, including showing your scalp, within 7 to 10 days typically. You’ll need to get plenty of rest after your procedure and avoid strenuous activities after your procedure. You can resume other normal activities almost immediately. To ensure prompt recovery, your physician may prescribe certain medications, including antibiotics and possibly pain medication.
After follicular unit transplantation or FUT, you may have a slightly longer recovery period. It’s advised that you sleep for a few hours after your procedure, avoid exercise, and rest afterward so that your sutures remain in place. Take medication as prescribed. After any procedure, you should keep an eye out for excessive pain, swelling, oozing from the procedure site, and fever. These may indicate an infection, and prompt treatment is vital to retain the integrity of your hair transplant.
If you’re experiencing hair loss and want to explore your treatment options, reach out to MAXIM Hair Restoration today. A member of our knowledgeable team will go over our services with you, answer any questions you may have, and get you scheduled for a consultation. You can use our convenient online contact form to submit a request, and someone will get back to you promptly.