What is a hair transplant?

A hair transplant involves moving hair follicles that are actively producing hair from one part of the scalp or body to another. The site that the hair follicles are harvested from is called a donor site while the site receiving the follicles is called the recipient site.

Who qualifies for the procedure?

Hair loss can be divided into two categories, that is, cicatricial and non-cicatricle. Cicatricle is a type of hair loss that leaves the scalp with a scar while non-cicatricle hair loss occurs without damaging the hair follicle.

These are some of the conditions that qualify for a hair transplant. Other conditions include traction alopecia which is caused by excessive stress on the hair from things like tight weaves and braids. Both men and women who have genetic balding also qualify for hair transplants.

What takes place prior to the procedure?

Before a hair transplant is carried out, a consultation is done so as to evaluate the cause of the hair loss. After the consultation, a physical exam is done where the scalp is examined through microscopy and magnification of the scalp. In some cases more tests like biopsies, mineral analysis and deficiency tests may be required before undergoing the procedure. In cases where the cause established is a condition like traction alopecia and they qualify for a transplant, a full blood count test is done to establish the levels of different components of blood.

Once all this is done, the patient is then taken through details of the procedure including the process and how long it will take.

What does the hair transplant process involve?

The first procedure is shaving of the donor site which is typically below the occipital bone also known as the safe zone. This hair is resistant to hormonal changes and genetic forms of hair loss.

The hair is shaved and afterwards local anaesthesia is administered to help stretch the scalp, push away blood capillaries and make harvesting the hair follicles easier and ensure that there is minimal bleeding. Thereafter, the follicles are harvested for a duration of about two hours and the patient gets about half an hour break before transferring the follicles to the recipient site. Local anaesthesia is administered again to numb the area and create tiny incisions where the follicles are planted.

Take us through the recovery process

As for recovery, a small dressing is put and pressure applied to prevent oozing of blood on the donor site. A period of about 24 hours is required for the incisions to close after which the patient can remove the dressing. Due to the local anaesthesia, some patients may experience slight swelling around the affected area and eyes and nose region which goes down after 48 to 72 hours. Patients are also given painkillers for three days in case they experience any pain and also put on antibiotics for five days since the skin has been opened up and exposed to prevent inflammations and infections.

In addition, the patient also goes home with a spray used for moisturising the area where the hair follicles were planted in. Moisturising is important because the hair takes about 72 hours before getting blood supply and if it dries out before that time the patient loses it. The spray is used throughout that week and later the patient returns to the clinic for cleaning to be done. Patients are also advised to use moisturising oils, as the holes get dry once they close up. The hair follicles start to grow out within a week but it takes up to a year for the hair to be fully thick. This varies from person to person.

Are there risks?

It is not a risky procedure as it only involves the top layer of the skin and transfer of the patient’s tissue from one area to another. The body is therefore able to recognise the tissue and begin to supply it with blood within 72 hours.

Other possible complications are accounted for prior to the procedure by ensuring that the required tests are done and that the patient’s medical history is taken into account. To be noted is that the hair follicles from the donor site do not grow back once they are harvested. The patient therefore has to have enough follicles to donate and still have enough remaining.

How much does it cost?

Cost is determined by the amount of work done and nature of procedure. No procedure, however, costs more than Ksh400 000. Our clientele mostly consists of women but men also come in from time to time.