Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure that moves donor hair follicles, which will usually last a lifetime, to an area of noticeable hair loss that we call the recipient area. Donor hair follicles are usually removed from the back and sides of your head (or rarely from other parts of the body.)
At the CHTC we excel at both the art and science of hair transplantation. The art is to move the follicles to create a perfectly natural look and to gain the most cosmetic benefit from each graft that is transplanted. The science is to ensure the maximum survival of the transplanted grafts and the minimum disruption of the donor area.
Planning Your Hair Transplant
Things that we consider in planning and designing your hair transplant include:
- Your current pattern and degree of loss.
- Your potential for future loss based on current signs, your age, and your family history.
- Your hair density and hair qualities.
- How important certain areas are to you, and how dense you need the hair to be in those areas.
- The shape of your face and head (to determine the level and shape of your new hairline).
- How you will look when you get older.
- Your natural hair direction.
- Your hair styling preferences.
We also have to figure out how many procedures you may wish to have (and how many you can afford) in your lifetime.
For more details about planning for men, click here to download a PDF file.
For more details about planning for women, click here to download a PDF file.
At the Canadian Hair Transplant Centre, we believe that Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation (FUT) gives the best and most natural results for most patients. Follicular units are natural bundles of 1 to 3 or more hair follicles. We are consistently meticulous about our technique so that you can get the best possible results.
There are two ways to get follicular units for transplantation: FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation, or 'strip harvesting') and FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction). FUT is reliable, efficient, and less expensive than FUE. FUE may have certain advantages in specific situations
FUT is the recognized gold standard method. After you are completely numb, a narrow, long, shallow strip of skin is removed from your donor area. The resulting gap is closed by suturing the skin edges together. A narrow 1-2 mm scar will result but it can be easily hidden-even by short hair. The harvested strip is then dissected into follicular unit grafts using microscopes to aid in visualization. Microscopic visualization is essential to ensure that follicles are not damaged, and that ideal grafts are prepared to ensure excellent survival. Tiny holes are made in the numb recipient area, then the grafts are placed into the holes. No visible scarring will be seen in the recipient area and, after the hair grows, you will have natural-looking hair.
FUE is a newer method that involves removing individual follicular units from the donor area and leaving the tiny holes to close and heal by themselves. If you have very short hair, the tiny resulting scars will be less noticeable than the long, narrow scar from FUT. The follicular unit grafts will be checked and trimmed under microscopic visualization before being placed into tiny holes in the recipient area.
We may perform other techniques for a few patients for specific reasons.
For more details about techniques, click here to download a PDF file.
Hair transplantation is inherently a very safe procedure. Although it can take a long time to perform, it is still minor skin surgery. People often ask about the risks of infection and bleeding but these risks are very low. We typically use sedatives, painkillers, and local anaesthetics, but we are very careful with medications, and we monitor you closely to ensure your safety.
Side effects of hair transplantation surgery are usually temporary and are more of a nuisance than a big problem. We have ways to prevent, minimize, or cope with all of the side effects.
Short-term common complications can include one or more of the following:
- Manageable pain and discomfort in the donor area for a few days post-operatively.
- Swelling that starts in the recipient area but can migrate to the face because of gravity. Fewer than 10% of patients have significant swelling. Swelling peaks in the 4th to 5th day and usually resolves by the 7th day.
- Scab formation in the recipient area that may take up to 10 days to completely resolve.
Medium-term complications occur infrequently and include:
- Pimples or persistent pinkness in the recipient area from ingrown hairs or reaction to hair shaft material. Fewer than 2% have much trouble. There are effective treatments if this happens. Without treatment, this problem could last for up to 4 months.
- Temporary shedding of existing hair in the recipient and, even more rarely, in the donor areas. The greater the amount of existing hair in the donor area, the higher the chance of seeing some post-operative shedding. The result is thinning, not baldness. Shedding can be reduced by using medications to support the hair, but because of the hair growth cycle, it can take up to 6 months to recover if you get significant postoperative shedding.
- Numbness or tenderness in the recipient or donor areas. This usually resolves in a few weeks but it can sometimes take months for the nerves to fully recover.
Long-term complications such as permanent discolouration of the scalp or excessive scarring are, fortunately, quite rare.
What to Expect
Day of Surgery
Your hair transplant day will likely be much easier than you expect.
After you arrive, we will answer all your questions, take several photographs, and get you all set. Dr. Simmons will then review the entire plan with you before starting your hair transplant.
You will likely prefer to have some medications to keep you comfortable during the initial local anaesthesia and, because of this, you may not remember all of the initial procedure. You will be awake and talking throughout, but afterwards it will seem as if you had been asleep. When the grafts are removed or are transplanted, you will not feel pain. Most patients say it is easier than going to the dentist.
Hair transplantation involves a continuous process of harvesting, preparing, and transplanting grafts, and so it takes many hours to complete. You may not feel that it is a long day, though. During the day, you may have a couple of naps, and for the remainder of the time you can watch movies, listen to music, or chat. You will have breaks to stretch, go to the washroom, and eat lunch. Our staff will also have rotating breaks. Some of our hard-working patients have said it was the most relaxing day they had had in months.
At the end of the day, you will feel comfortable and alert. Although you may feel fine, you will not be permitted to drive, your reflexes will be a bit too slow. Dr. Simmons will check on you after you are home, and you will have his contact numbers should you have any questions.
For a more detailed description of the day, click here to download a PDF file.
For an instruction chart, click here to download a PDF file.
For full written instructions, click here to download a PDF file.
For special instructions for ladies for their hair transplant day, click here to download a PDF file.