What happens during Hair Transplant Surgery?

Hair transplant surgery is performed within a day and you are usually able to leave the hospital or clinic a few hours after it has been performed.  Although you will be able to leave the hospital you will not be able to drive for around 24 hours following the anaesthetic.  The length of time it will take to complete your hair transplant depends on the extent of hair being replaced.  A small transplant can take around an hour to complete, one with more surface area could take up to five to ten hours.  Sometimes you will have more than one session to complete your hair transplant depending on the extent of your hair loss and the condition of your scalp.  

Initially you will be placed under a mild sedation by an anaesthetist who will monitor your reaction to the anaesthetic and use as little as possible to keep you comfortable.  Local anaesthetic is applied to your scalp area so that there is no chance of you feeling anything throughout your hair transplant procedure.

Your surgeon will remove a section of your natural hair from the back of your scalp to then dissect individual hair follicles taking extra care not to damage any of the root structures.  These hairs grow naturally on your head, and the skin supporting them will continue to do so once removed.  There are other hair transplant techniques, detailed below.

The areas that you have the transplants will have been decided between you and your surgeon before the surgery takes place.  These areas will be injected with adrenaline in order to prevent any excess bleeding before the replacement hair follicles are inserted through small incisions.  Your surgeon will replace them with small areas of hair, rather than large strips which could lead to a very unnatural appearance.  By keeping the transplants small it makes the hair look as though it has never been moved and your hairline can be aesthetically pleasing using micro-grafts at the front.

After you hair transplant surgery you can expect the hair that has been moved to fall out (also known as shock loss).  This is perfectly normal and no need to worry, within a few weeks of the hair falling out, new hairs ought to start growing in their place. 

Types of Hair Graft

There are different types of hair grafting that can be used throughout a hair transplant, usually you will have more than one form of graft used in order to create as natural an appearance as possible.

  • Micro-grafts - This form of grafting is incredibly specific and involved one hair follicle being transplanted at a time. 
  • Strip grafting - This is the traditional method of hair grafting, and was used in early methods as the primary way to complete a hair transplant.  High use of strip grafting can make your hair appear too ordered and unnatural, however when used in unison with micro grafts it is often used for the main bulk of your hair transplant.  When performing strip hair grafting your surgeon will cut a strip of hair from the donor site and then cut it into smaller areas of hairs to then transfer to your scalp.   
  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) - This is the most modern form of grafting and allows your surgeon to remove individual hair follicles and re-plant them to produce a very natural look.  They do not use a scalpel to remove the hair, instead a 1mm area of skin surrounding the follicle is punched out using a specific tool.  This method is generally used for small areas of baldness, for the hairline or for those wishing to thicken out a slowly balding scalp.  Due to the lack of incision the area tends to heal very quickly with no scarring, and throughout the procedure only a local anaesthetic needs to be used.