Getting A Hair Transplant On A Scar
Hair transplant procedures have jumped over 60% all over the globe.
There isn’t a lot that stands in the way of a hair transplant these days. Since its first successful implementation in 1952, medical science has continued to improve on this confidence-building, self-image strengthening procedure. Some 50 million men in the United States suffer from male pattern baldness. This alone should make it no surprise that since 2014, hair transplant procedures have jumped over 60% all over the globe. Not only that, but due to those aforementioned improvements, patients can count on hair regrowth that looks as completely natural as the powerful mane they owned in their youth.
And yes, it’s even possible to get a hair transplant on scar tissue. Hence the title of this particular article. Having said as much, the practiced technique does involve a few changes from the tried and true methods. Today we’ll discuss those changes, as well as what you’ll experience during recovery time.
Some Facts About Scar Tissue
Common knowledge dictates that hair cannot grow on damaged skin replaced by scar tissue. After all, the healthy tissue that hair once occupied has been destroyed. The body’s natural healing process has replaced it. But what, exactly, prevents the hair from growing?
In healthy skin, connective tissue known as collagen forms a basket-weave kind of pattern that allows for follicle growth. For damaged skin that has healed, this collagen instead takes on the form of a more straight, rigid appearance. The replacement tissue is not as fecund as the original; thus, it does not allow for hair growth. Scar tissue also will not accept hair transplants performed in the usual manner, wherein hair is placed inside existing “dormant” follicles beneath the scalp.
How is Hair Transplanted on to Scar Tissue?
The two main types of transplants a doctor will probably choose from are actually the same as with a normal transplant procedure; it’s how they are performed that’s different. The two main types are:
FUT—Follicular Unit Transplantation
FUE—Follicular Unit Extraction
FUT is done by removing a small section of scalp from the back of the head, dividing it into sections, and inserting those sections into the affected area. For FUE, the doctor presses small holes into bald areas of the scalp, and transplants follicles into the holes.
Now since we’ve already told you that the typical FUE method doesn’t tend to work on scar tissue, let’s start here, and find out what needs to be different. For FUE to work on a scar, the procedure goes something like this:
- The doctor will shave the area around scar
- He or she will next retrieve hair follicles from an area where they still grow
- After that, holes are punctured into the scar tissue
- The healthy hair follicles are then placed inside of these holes
- The follicles will be spaced further apart than usual, to allow new blood vessels to form between them, and thus accept additional follicles at a later surgery date
- The scar tissue is then bandaged
A similar trick is employed for the FUT transplant method. This procedure will play out as such:
- After applying local anesthesia, the doctor will cut away a small piece of your scalp
- The doctor will stitch the area closed, then cut the piece into sections called grafts
- The doctor then will create spaces in the scar tissue for the grafts to be inserted
- As with FUE, the grafts will be placed further apart than normal to allow new blood vessels to grow between them for additional grafts at a later surgery date.
- The scar tissue is then bandaged with gauze
For each method, all that really gets done differently is that allowance for blood vessel growth. A transplant procedure can run anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Depending on the size of the balding area, several procedures may be necessary. These procedures are placed months apart to allow patients healing time in between. If the procedure involves only the scar tissue, more than one appointment can take place over the course of a single week.
Once the transplant area shows signs of healing, the doctor will remove the bandages and inspect for unusual swelling. If there is more swelling than what he or she is normally comfortable with, a topical injection may used to ameliorate the effect.
What is the Healing Process Like?
It is completely normal for the patient to experience some pain after a transplant procedure. For the first 48 hours, many doctors are wary about prescribing painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin, which contain blood thinning agents, and will instead recommend paracetamol. He or she may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to combat swelling. In the rare case of infection (folliculitis), antibiotics may be prescribed.
Some other things your doctor is likely to tell you include:
- Schedule about 5 days off from work, starting immediately after the procedure
- Avoid physical, fussy contact with the treated area for approximately one month
- Try not to wear hats, or any other clothing that covers the treatment area while it heals
At around the 3 month stage of the healing process, you may notice that the transplanted hair is actually coming loose and falling away from the scar tissue. This is a normal part of the journey for all hair transplant patients and presents no cause for alarm. Rather, it indicates the beginning of the true results. Once the transplanted hair falls out new hair will sprout from underneath. Approximately one year after treatment, the scar tissue should be fully covered with this new hair.
Scar tissue on the scalp encourages no reason to think that hair transplant procedures cannot affect them. Every year hundreds of thousands of men are making appointments to reverse pattern baldness and conceal scar tissue, and every year, it seems that medical science is making new discoveries that will render the procedure even more efficacious.
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