Body and facial hair transplants are the most permanent solution to problems of body and facial hair loss. Such procedures can provide relief from the distress caused when hair is lost from places on the face or body where it normally grows. For some individuals, disguising hair loss with wigs or hairpieces may be a good solution, but many patients desire a more permanent solution. There are a number of treatments available to help promote hair growth or hide hair loss, but the most effective treatment, with the most lasting results, is often hair transplantation surgery.
Hair loss can occur as a result of aging, heredity, medications or underlying medical conditions, and can affect men and women of all ages. Aside from affecting the hair on the head, hair loss may leave bald areas, patchy spots or thinned hair on the face or body. Depending on the gender of the patient, hair loss may be more or less troublesome when it occurs in the beard area, chest, armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes or pubic region. Any noticeable hair loss may cause embarrassment, self-consciousness and even serious emotional distress to patients who suffer from it. Since most insurance companies consider hair transplantation a cosmetic procedure, however, though expensive, hair transplantation is rarely covered by insurance.
Reasons for Body and Facial Hair Transplants
The loss of hair on the face or body can be caused by a number of different factors, including:
- Disorders of the thyroid or pituitary glands
- Hormone deficiencies
- Certain medications
- Cancer treatments
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Some skin or immune disorders
- Traumatic stress
Hair loss may be the result of alopecia areata, a condition of unknown origin believed to be an immune disorder, in which a problem with the follicles causes hair to stop growing and fall out, or a disorder known as telogen effluvium, in which a large section of hair goes into a resting phase, stops growing, falling out all at once, or trichotillomania, a psychiatric disorder in which a patient compulsively pulls out facial or body hair.
The Transplant Procedure
Beginning in the 1950s, doctors began experimenting with the transplantation of hair. In the early procedures, strips of the scalp were removed and transplanted to balding areas. In modern, perfected procedures, the strips of hair removed are carefully divided into individual follicles, usually between one and four follicles, and inserted individually into tiny surgical openings on the bare patches of the targeted area.
During hair transplant, the donor and the recipient are the same individual. Donor hair to be used for transplantation is harvested from a discreet area of the scalp. It is removed from portions of the head, typically at the back and sides, that are considered permanent safe zones because they are unaffected by hair loss. Once the hair is removed and divided into follicular portions, the transplants are made individually. The precise amount of hair that needs to be taken from the head will be determined by the location to which it is being transplanted and the size of the area that needs coverage. Accuracy is essential, as these hairs will be transplanted one by one and positioned in a natural direction of growth. The hair grafts will continue to grow normally in their new location.
A hair transplantation procedure takes between four and ten hours to perform, depending on the extent of the coverage required. Usually one session is sufficient, though sometimes additional sessions may be required.
Recovery from Body and Facial Hair Transplants
Patients who have undergone body or facial hair transplantation should expect some soreness, swelling, itching, crusting, and possible numbness at both the donor and recipient sites. Pain medication, either over-the-counter or prescribed, may be administered to lessen discomfort. Normal activities can usually be resumed after 24 hours, though symptoms may not completely subside for a week to 10 days.
The results of this procedure appear gradually as the transplanted hair falls out and then regrows to restore a natural appearance. The incisions will fade over time to become less noticeable as well. Desired results are usually achieved after approximately 6 months, although this varies from patient to patient.
The number of procedures needed depends on the extent of hair loss, as well as the patient‘s physical characteristics and goals for treatment. For some patients, a single session may be all that‘s needed, while others will require more.The doctor will determine how many treatments are needed to suit individual needs. Within 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, the transplanted hair will fall out, but within the next few months new hair growth will appear. Within a period of 6 to 9 months, most patients will have attained 60 percent of their new hair growth.
Risks of Body and Facial Hair Transplants
As with any type of surgical procedure, it is best to undergo surgery there are certain risks associated with hair transplantation. These may include:
- Post-surgical infection.
- Unnatural new hair growth
- Folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles
- Shock loss of transplanted hair
- Sudden loss of transplanted hair
These risks from body and facial transplants are rare. Careful choice of physician and careful adherence to medical recommendations, minimize these risks.