Hair transplants: busting some common myths
By Dr. Mark Korman MD FRCSC,
Hair Restoration Surgeon
The evolution of hair restoration that has occurred over the last 20 years is staggering. We have proven and safe medical treatments that can stop or reverse hair loss in many patients and hair transplantation has advanced to the point that when performed well by an experienced team, the results can be both astonishing and undetectable.
In spite of all that we have accomplished, certain misconceptions seem to persist among the public. Below, I have tried to bust some of the more common myths that I am confronted with on a regular basis.
Common Myth #1: Hair plugs are obvious and never look natural
This is the number one myth that I want to dispel. While we have all seen the results of older hair transplant methods that use rows of coarse “hair plugs”, my patients would consider an obvious looking hair transplant to be worse than baldness and accordingly I would never use these techniques. One of the first things that I explain to my patients is that the pluggy, and embarrassing results produced by older, outdated techniques are a thing of the past.
For patients who wish to restore their hair, modern follicular unit hair transplantation with microscopic single-follicle graft preparation is considered to be the end refinement in hair restoration technique. Gone are the days of unsightly rows of obvious “hair plugs”. Contemporary techniques are able to deliver results that are predictable and virtually undetectable. Often, patients’ hair stylists are not able to tell that a transplant has been performed.
Common Myth #2: Hair transplants are painful and risky
Hair transplantation is performed as a day surgery procedure in a relaxed, state of the art outpatient setting. Patients do not even require an intravenous. With the use of local freezing and meticulous techniques, the vast majority of patients report a virtually pain-free experience. Patients have a relaxing day spent listening to music, or watching a movie as the procedure progresses.
The side effects of hair transplantation surgery are relatively minor and serious complications are extremely rare. Modern hair transplantation surgery is comfortable, predictable, and produces excellent results.
Common Myth #3: Hair transplants have a long recovery time
Sometimes there is some minor swelling or bruising for the first few days following a hair transplant but this is almost never a significant concern. Some temporary scab formation over the newly transplanted hair follicles is to be expected, but hair can be washed starting on the first day after the procedure. Depending on the type of work that they do, most people choose to take a few days off, but some people resume their normal schedule within 1-2 days. Vigorous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for 10-14 days.
Common Myth # 4: The transplanted hair will not look like my own
The hair used in a transplant is your own. It is not artificial and cannot be donated from another person. Modern hair transplantation involves taking hair from areas where there is a relative abundance, normally the permanent fringe at the back of the scalp, and delicately moving it to the areas where hair has thinned. Because the hair is your own, it will continue to grow naturally and can be washed, brushed, cut, colored and styled just like any naturally occurring hair. Modern techniques and instrumentation allow for the delivery of natural results with the hairline, density and coverage that are appropriate for each individual patient. In addition to the hairline, the temples and the bald spot, hair can also be transplanted to the moustache, beard, eyebrows and body.
Common Myth #5: Hair loss only affects men
Women are also subject to hair loss and as disconcerting as baldness can be for men, the women that come to see me will frequently have significant anxiety about how hair loss is affecting their self-confidence, sexuality, career, dating prospects, or attractiveness to their spouse. Many feel frustrated, scared and alone and have often spent thousands of dollars on hair care products, styling, and a seemingly endless assortment of lotions and potions.
As in men, the most common cause of hair loss in women is inherited pattern baldness however certain medical conditions can also cause hair loss in women.
The pattern of hair loss in women is generally different from that seen in men. While female pattern hair loss can start early, it often begins later than the male variety and is more frequently associated with diffuse thinning over the entire scalp. Many women complain that the part in their hair seems to get wider.
Common Myth #6: Only men can have hair transplants
While female pattern hair loss is extremely common, many women do not realize that treatment is available and effective and so continue to suffer with the embarrassment and anxiety that frequently accompany thinning hair.
It is major misconception that only men are candidates for hair restoration. More and more women are now recognizing the reality of hair loss and there is a worldwide trend toward women taking control and seeking treatment. A survey conducted by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery revealed that in 2008, 15.1% of surgical hair restoration patients were women and almost 32% of non-surgical hair restoration patients were women.
Hair transplantation is an excellent option for many women and some of my happiest patients are women who tell me that their hair transplant has changed their lives, making them feel more confident and attractive and less self-conscious.