Hair loss is a common condition that affects both men and women, and can involve a receding hair line, balding in the crown region, overall thinning, loss of eyebrow hair, or traumatic hair loss from scars or skin cancer resections. Hair loss can have a significant impact on your appearance and often results in a loss of the self-confidence you once had.
Hair restoration surgery is a permanent solution that redistributes your own hair from the back of your scalp to the areas that need increased coverage. It is a very well tolerated procedure that is performed in a clinic setting, with minimal downtime required.
Linda N. Lee, M.D., offers permanent hair restoration treatment, with the safety of a hospital setting, at Mass. Eye and Ear, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. Dr. Lee completed her residency in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Mass. Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School. She then specialized in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery during her fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. She has a particular passion for treating hair loss in both men and women, as she understands the importance of restoring someone’s confidence.
Understanding hair restoration
The most common cause of androgenic alopecia (or pattern baldness) is genetics. The hair follicles in the frontal and crown region are affected by the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), leading to hair loss in these regions.
The reason hair transplant can be successful and permanent is that hair from the posterior portion of the head is not affected by DHT hormone in the same way. Hair transplantation takes advantage of "donor dominance," meaning after posterior hairs are transplanted to the frontal or crown region, they continue to exhibit characteristics of permanent hair.
Determining if you are a good candidate for hair restoration
Although genetics are the most common cause of hair loss, patients who have scars or traumatic lesions also experience hair loss and may be candidates for hair restoration surgery. Eyebrows and traumatic areas of hair loss can be successfully transplanted.
During a complimentary first visit, Dr. Lee will take a full medical history and physical examination, with special attention to evaluating your hair loss pattern and potential success profile with hair transplant surgery. Your personal concerns and goals of surgery will be thoroughly discussed. If you are a good candidate, Dr. Lee will discuss the two methods of hair restoration surgery: follicular unit transplant (FUT – also known as the “strip technique”) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
Understanding updated techniques in hair restoration
Major advances have been made in hair transplantation techniques over the past decade. Updated techniques utilize much smaller grafts called microfollicular units. These techniques include Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Because of these updated techniques, surgeons are now able to create more natural improvements in the appearance of your hair. Patients are not left with obvious “plugs” or an unnatural hairline – both stigmas of outdated hair transplant techniques.
During your initial consultation, you will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of FUT versus FUE, and decide together which is most appropriate for your case.
In general, the advantages of FUT (strip technique) are:
- More grafts can be transplanted in a single session
- Shorter procedure time
- Lower cost
- No need to shave your head for the procedure. The suture line is well hidden immediately after your procedure
In general, advantages of the FUE are:
- No suture line. If your preferred hairstyle is a shaved cut or a very short haircut, FUE can be preferred for this reason.
- FUE can be performed in a very tight scalp, such as a patient who has undergone several prior hair transplants and has lost scalp laxity.
Medical therapies for hair loss
Medical therapies (such as Rogaine and Propecia) can be successful in preventing additional hair loss, but they cannot restore hair in areas that have already been affected. The only way to permanently restore hair is through hair restoration surgery, but medical therapies can be successfully used as a supplement to optimize the results of a hair transplant. If medically indicated, your surgeon will prescribe these for you.
What to expect
The procedure is very well tolerated and is performed under local anesthesia in the Facial Cosmetic Surgery Center at Mass Eye and Ear. Patients can either bring their favorite DVD's to watch during the procedure or select from our collection of movies and entertainment.
Snacks and lunch are provided. No postoperative dressings are required. Patients are encouraged to wash their hair the day after the procedure. Dr. Lee will follow the results with you at regular checkups.
For more information about hair restoration surgery or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lee, please call 617-573-4105.