A Natural Look For Prior Hair Transplant Recipients
By Clifford Gelman, MD // February 4, 2014
NEW TECHNOLOGY AND 'ARTISTIC EYE' key to success
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA — The past several decades have seen a wide range of hair transplantation techniques. More often than not, these older techniques created a hairline that looked unnatural and visually unappealing.
While the past 10 years have ushered in technologically advanced techniques and practices, those individuals who underwent a hair transplant some time ago may be stuck with a constant reminder of a procedure gone wrong or one that has simply not stood the test of time.
A successful hair transplant is not solely dependent upon the technical skill of the physician performing it. A keen, artistic eye is also essential in creating the natural look that the majority of patients are so eager to achieve. With that in mind, not only should the patient and the physician discuss the technical details of the procedure itself but also the aesthetic goal the patient is working to accomplish.
A FOCUS ON THE AESTHETICS
The “plug” techniques of the past created a hairline that often looked artificial due to the nature of the procedure itself. Plugs, or large grafts of hair, were dense, however, the areas between the plugs may have had little to no hair. This offered only a partial solution to recipients because the final look often gave the recipient the appearance of thinning hair. Furthermore, this technique often limited the individual in how their hair could be styled. While some people may be more than happy to stick with a consistent look, those who desire to stay current with the latest styles were largely out of luck.
Typically a patient will undergo a hair transplant repair in order to achieve “naturalness” in their look. “Naturalness” simply means making an area of transplanted hair look no different from an area where no hair has been lost. The natural appearance was difficult to create with older techniques that transplanted “plugs” of multiple hair follicles containing up to a dozen hairs. Patients who had hair transplants a decade or more ago often look to have this “pluggy” look revised.
Revision of a pluggy look can be accomplished for most patients—for example, by procedures such as (1) “filling in” between pluggy grafts with micro-grafts of one to a few hair follicles, (2) surgically removing pluggy grafts that are too large to be camouflaged by micro-grafts, and (3) revising the hairline to blend more naturally with the overall revision of the transplant. Every patient has individual characteristics that have to be considered in consultations with a physician hair restoration specialist.
REPAIRING THE RESULTS OF TIME
Hair transplants are no exception to the rule that time changes everything. Some patients with older transplants may have had some additional hair loss in addition to a transplant they now find aesthetically unsatisfactory. Combining repair with additional transplants is a common procedure to achieve a denser look to the hair. However, it may also present challenges such as finding enough donor hair to accomplish both goals.
New areas of hair loss can occur after initial hair transplantation. Continuing hair loss can frequently be anticipated on the basis of factors such as (1) age of hair loss onset, (2) rate of progressive hair loss, (3) hair loss type, and (4) history of hair loss in the patient’s family.
A medical hair restoration specialist is usually able to anticipate the progressive hair loss and plan with the patient for additional transplantation sessions in the future to address the problem of continuing hair loss.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clifford Gelman is a board-certified, U.S. trained, former U.S. Air Force general surgeon. He graduated in the top ten percent of his medical school class at the Rush University College of Medicine in Chicago, where he earned the Ramsey Outstanding Scholarship Award. Specializing in hair restoration, Dr. Gelman has extensive training with internationally renowned hair restoration surgeons. Dr. Gelman can be reached at 321-473-1068 or visit www.GelmanHair.com for more information.