Straight, wavy, short or long, how you wear your hair plays a big part in your appearance and confidence, which is why hair loss is extremely distressing at any age.
In fact, with the popularity of hairstyling—from using the hair iron to perming and colouring our tresses—most people suffer from hair loss at some point due to damaged hair and aggravated scalps. While this is usually reversible, some of us are not so lucky. Hair diseases and genetic conditions, such as androgenetic alopecia (otherwise known as male pattern baldness), can cause severe loss of hair that cannot be easily reversed.
What can be done for extreme hair loss? The solution with most dramatic and long-lasting results may just be hair transplants, and this procedure has already seen a list of celebrities and personalities regaining a luscious head of hair: Wayne Rooney, Louis Walsh, Calum Best and James Nesbitt. Even Lewis Hamilton and David Beckham have been rumoured to restore their locks via hair transplants.
So what exactly is hair transplant and what goes on in a treatment? We speak to Dr Harold Ma, medical director of Freia Medical to understand this procedure.
IT IS NOT WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK IT IS
While hair transplant has been an aesthetic solution for hair loss and baldness for some time, it isn’t spoken about as much as cosmetic surgeries. So if you are imagining a patch of hair getting glued to your head à la hair extensions, or having someone else’s hair stitched to your scalp, put these misconceptions away.
For one, the hair follicles used in hair transplants cannot be donated from anyone besides yourself.
Secondly, while hair transplants via the older STRIP method used to involve obtaining hair grafts from the back of your scalp and then stitching it to thinning areas on the head—which sounds painful and is extremely invasive—the modern-day procedure (Follicular Unit Extraction method) requires no cutting or stitching and minimal downtime.
IT REQUIRES PRECISION AND SKILL
What exactly goes on during an FUE transplant? According to Dr Ma, the method extracts healthy hair follicles from an area of the scalp—usually the back of the head, as it is rarely affected by male pattern baldness—and transplants it to a bald, or thinning part of the body, via micro-incisions.
As simple as it may sound, it takes painstaking attention to detail, and many years of experience to achieve a natural, full head of hair.
“Depending on the area to be treated, this daytime procedure usually takes from four to six hours, typically including a meal break and rest for the patient.”
The patient is first assessed to determine their suitability for the procedure, and if the donor site, where the follicles are extracted, is healthy. Then, hair follicles are carefully harvested under local anaesthesia and preserved in a holding solution at controlled temperatures. This is done quickly, as hair follicles cannot survive without oxygen and blood supply for too long.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
It may be easy to assume that more is merrier, but this is not the case when it comes to harvested hair follicles. Stringent quality control is practiced to ensure every follicle is viable for transplant.
“Under a microscope, hair technicians inspect and tally the number of hair follicles harvested.The physician will then mark out the recipient area and make little micro-incisions, determining the angle, direction and density of the new hairs,” Dr Ma explains. This step, he shares, is “vital to create a natural and successful result”.
So who exactly should get a hair transplant? “The main conditions that patients seek help for include male pattern baldness, certain cases of female pattern baldness, and old scars.”
It can also be done for aesthetic reasons, however, such as to “increase the hair density of beards and sideburns for men, eyebrows for either gender, or reshaping female hairlines.”
The best way to determine if this is right for you, however, is to simply consult Dr Ma. The established aesthetics doctor has over 10 years of experience in hair restoration and uses a faster automated version of FUE transplant method—personally extracted and transplanted by him—to ensure minimal graft wastage. It’s not one-size-fits-all either—Dr Ma believes in combining treatment protocols so you are ensured maximal results with a combination of topical, oral, and laser treatments. Book an appointment with him at Freia Medical.
Freia Medical, 435 Orchard Rd, #19-03, Wisma Atria Office Tower, 238877, +65 6735 8180 or +65 8223 0609 (Whatsapp), freia.sg