Customized treatment plans for individual patients using the latest techniques and technology make it possible to successfully compensate for thinning hair or baldness. Treatments vary depending on the extent and pattern of hair loss and the patient’s preferences, lifestyle and expectations, but typically include hair transplants, scalp reduction, skin lifts/grafts, medication or a combination of these.
By the age of 50, approximately half of men and a quarter of women have experienced some degree of hair loss. Going bald can severely impact your self-esteem and quality of life, but if you are tired of trying to hide your thinning hair with hats and wigs, you now have many options to reverse hair loss. At Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco, we offer customized treatment plans for our patients, using the latest techniques and technology.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Many misconceptions persist about the underlying causes of hair loss. Contrary to what you may have heard, your thinning hair probably isn’t the result of stress, wearing hats, or excessive shampooing. Male-pattern baldness occurs due to a combination of genetics and the male hormone dihydrotestosterone. This type of hair loss usually begins with a receding frontal hairline that progresses until it results in a bare patch on top of the head.
Female-pattern hair loss is the result of androgenetic alopecia. This phenomenon refers to the overall thinning of hair across the entire scalp due to increased hair shedding, a reduction in total hair volume, or both. It’s rare for women to go bald following the male pattern unless their bodies produce excessive androgens.
Another myth about baldness is that it only happens to older people. If hair loss runs in your family, you could start seeing the first signs of thinning hair at any age after puberty. Thankfully, we now have solutions for reducing hair loss and restoring your confidence.
Depending on the degree of hair loss you are experiencing, over-the-counter treatments like minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia) can help slow hair loss and, in some people, can even encourage new hair growth. However, in some cases, they can become less effective over time for people who take them long-term. If you’ve started noticing these medications are not working as well as they used to, or you are experiencing any adverse side effects, stop using them and consult with a hair loss specialist.
Scalp Reduction Surgery for Hair Loss
Scalp reduction surgery is another method of treating baldness for men and women. This surgery entails moving skin that has healthy, growing hair to cover balding areas. For instance, if you have plenty of hair on the back and sides of your head, a surgeon might stretch these areas over the top of your scalp and suture them together to cover up a bald spot.
While scalp reduction surgery can be an effective treatment for baldness, it’s not an option for everyone. If the skin of your scalp lacks sufficient elasticity to stretch over other parts of your head, you might be a better candidate for a different approach. We may also recommend an alternative to scalp reduction surgery if you have multiple bald patches.
Before getting scalp reduction surgery, you should consult with a qualified physician to ensure you don’t have an underlying health condition causing your hair loss. Sometimes, thinning hair is a temporary result of illness, stress, hormonal fluctuations, and some medications.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Early hair transplant surgeries typically left patients with unnatural, uneven-looking results. Luckily, there is no need to worry about this outcome anymore. Modern hair replacement techniques use existing hair from other parts of your head to regrow hair and restore hair density in balding areas.
If you have sufficient hair in the donor areas and your hair loss has advanced to the degree that a knowledgeable hair transplant surgeon can predict what shape the pattern will take, you may be well-qualified for hair restoration surgery. There are two predominant types of hair transplantation methods in use today: follicular unit transplantation and follicular unit extraction.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Follicular unit transplantation, or FUT, involves cutting a strip of skin from the back of your scalp, extracting the follicles, and reinserting them in your balding areas. When performed by a skilled surgeon, FUT – also known as strip surgery – is an excellent way to get many healthy grafts in a short period. However, this outpatient surgery is also a more invasive solution that can leave visible scarring.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
An FUE hair transplant is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that is virtually painless and leaves no scarring. Your hair replacement surgeon will remove small bundles of hair follicles from the donor area, then carefully transplant them into the thinning or bald spot, making sure to place them in a natural pattern and direction. This procedure doesn’t require stitches or bandages, and there is no downtime necessary for recovery.
The Hair Transplant Timeline
If you have been frustrated with your thinning hair for years, it’s understandable to hope for immediate results. However, as a prospective hair transplant patient, it’s crucial to realize you won’t wake up with a full, luxurious head of hair the next day. That’s because it takes time for your newly transplanted hair to resume the natural hair growth cycle. Here’s a general idea of what to expect.
- Dormancy: In the first few months after your hair restoration surgery, the newly transplanted hair grafts will fall out and the follicles will enter a resting stage. This temporary phase is essential for healthy hair growth.
- Emergence: Approximately four to eight months after your procedure, you’ll start to see new hair growth. At this stage of the process, your transplanted follicles have moved from dormancy into the active phase of the hair growth cycle. The new hairs will initially be fine and thin, but they will thicken over time. At this point, the donor and recipient sites should be fully healed, and any evidence of the transplant should be invisible.
- Maturation: Eight months to a year after getting hair transplant surgery, your transplanted hair will become thicker and denser, and you can cut and style it however you like.
San Francisco Hair Transplant Surgery FAQs
What is the best age to get hair restoration surgery?
You may have heard it’s better for younger people to get a hair transplant to prevent the degree of their balding or thinning from becoming too advanced. However, in most hair transplantation procedures, older patients have a better chance of success. That’s because younger patients have a less predictable hair loss pattern. Your hair loss can advance as you age, canceling out the results of your original surgery.
Am I well-qualified for hair restoration surgery?
Your surgeon will assess the quality and amount of your donor hair to determine whether you are a candidate for hair loss surgery. People with advanced balding across their entire scalp may lack enough donor hair for successful results. In addition, if the underlying cause of your hair loss is not genetic, a hair transplant may not be ideal for you.
Is a hair transplant painful?
We will numb your scalp beforehand, so you shouldn’t experience pain during your hair transplant. However, you may feel some general discomfort for the first few days after your procedure. It should be mild enough to control with over-the-counter pain medication.
Are there any other risks or side effects of hair transplantation?
Minor bleeding, swelling, and scabbing are all typical after hair restoration surgery. You can minimize these side effects by carefully following your post-operative instructions.
Learn More About Hair Restoration in San Francisco
If you are beginning your research into hair restoration techniques, it’s natural to have questions about your options. At Dermatology Medical Group of San Francisco, we want to give all our patients realistic expectations about the procedures they’re considering. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with our board-certified dermatologists.
Are you interested in Hair Transplant Surgery? Call us today for an appointment.