Achieving a natural looking hair transplant requires skill, concentration and attention to detail, all of which take time. For this reason, hair transplant surgery usually takes between 6 to 8 hours. If you're wondering what happens during this lengthy process, here is an outline of a typical day of surgery.
The day begins with the arrival of the patient bright and early in the morning. They are shown into a comfortable private waiting room where they can watch TV, eat a small breakfast or read the day's papers - all with a view to making the patient as relaxed as possible.
At the same time, the surgeon and team meet in a conference room to discuss the day ahead and finalise details of the hair transplant design. Hair transplant surgery is a team effort so it important that everyone understands the patient's needs and wishes. The hair transplant surgery usually takes place 6 to 8 weeks after the first meeting with the patient so by the time they reach the surgery, the patient will fully understand the procedure and what they can realistically expect from the surgery.
Back in the waiting room, the patient receives some pre-operative medication to help the nerves. They meet with the surgeon to discuss the proposed procedure and design one last time. The patient often has his or her spouse, partner or family member with them and they are actively engaged in the decision process.
From here, the patient is guided to the Clinical Photography room where they meet the team of 21 technicians, nurses and surgeons. In this room the team draw up the final hair transplant design and photograph it. Everything is explained to the patient so they understand each step.
Once the design is finalised, the technicians calculate the amount of donor hair necessary to deal with the patient's hair loss. They achieve this through a combination of macrophotography and computer analysis. Then, the strip of donor hair which is to be removed is trimmed close to the scalp in preparation for surgery.
As a minor surgical operation, hair transplants require local anaesthetic only. The donor area (the back or sides of the scalp) and the recipient area (the bald or thinning area) are numbed with local anaesthetic. The hair transplant procedure itself is pain-free but administering local anaesthetic can cause some minor discomfort but it doesn't last long. On hand in the surgery is a Patient Welfare Co-ordinator whose focus is on the comfort and wellbeing of the patient at all times throughout the day.
During the surgery, the patient can watch TV, listen to music or, as occurs very often, they fall asleep. Each treatment room is fully equipped with a TV, DVD and MP3 player so the patient can choose from a variety of entertainment.
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, the necessary amount of donor skin and hair are then removed and the donor site is subsequently stitched up.
In the graft preparation room, the donor hair and skin is prepared. First, it is slivered into small pieces using stereoscopic microscopes. These pieces are then meticulously divided into individual follicles and these follicles are then trimmed of excess skin and tissue.
Based on the design, these grafts are then carefully inserted into small openings which have been made in the recipient area.
After a day in surgery, the patient can go home with some simple aftercare instructions to follow for the first 2 weeks after surgery. After this two week period the hair grafts are fully implanted and the patient can wash, cut and colour their hair as normal. The only aftercare needed is to dab water on the area to avoid crusts forming.
Once the hair transplant is fully healed, there will just be a small, fine scar which is covered by the existing hair and only visible on close inspection. It can take up to 18 months for the newly transplanted hair to fully grow, so patience is a must!