Today I will discuss the custom cut recipient blade sizes in hair transplant procedures that I use to create the recipient sites for my hair transplant grafts. I have a machine which allows me to cut custom sized blades. Typically my blades range in size from .5mm-1.1mm and I have blade sizes in every size in between in .05mm increments. This allows me to use the smallest possible blade for the patients natural follicular units. The hair type and caliber are defining characteristics that determine which size blade to use. Typically I try to find the smallest possible blade which still allows for easy placement. An extra .1mm opening may not seem like much, but when multiplied by 1500-3000, which is the number of recipient sites I create in a typical hair transplant procedure, an extra .1mm can add up to significantly more injury to the scalp and circulation, which in most cases is not necessary. I also custom cut my blades with a 45 degree angle at the end and I angle the deepest portion of the blade so that it is at the superior aspect of the incision. This means that the blade also causes less injury to the scalp circulation and positions the graft at a more acute angle which gives a better final result. Minimizing damage to the scalp and the vascular bed minimizes scar tissue in the scalp and thus minimizes the potential of “shock loss” (which I will address in another blog entry).
I hope this blog entry clarifies why the blade size is very important in Hair Transplant Procedures.
Today I wold like to discuss the term Hair Transplant Or Hair Transfer. This term has become synonymous with the process of moving hair follicles from the donor zone on the scalp to areas of thinning or balding. The term Hair Transplant has always bothered me, as the term transplant is typically used to describe the donation of an organ from one individual to another. The hair taken from one individual will not grow if placed on another person unless both individuals are identical twins. Therefore, in actuality the term hair transplant is a misnomer as we are never taking hair from one person to transplant onto another. What we are actually performing is a hair transfer. We move hair follicles from the permanent donor zone on the back and sides (this is the hair that is immune to the process of genetic balding) to the areas of thinning. I would like to encourage others to begin to use the term hair transfer when discussing the process we perform as I believe it will help more people to understand what is involved in the process we routinely call hair transplant procedures.
Donor Scar After FUT- Strip Harvest Hair Transplant Procedure
Today I would like to discuss the closure of the hair transplant donor strip in FUT, which is the strip harvest procedure. This is where we take a strip of hair from the donor zone and dissect it into individual follicular units for transplanting. In order to have an excellent result in the donor region (a fine linear donor scar, between 1-3mm in width) it is imperative to limit the width of the donor strip. Keeping the donor strip limited to a width of 10-15mm is usually safe for a fine scar result. Performing a trichophytic closure (which I have discussed in previous blog entries) can cause the hair to grow through the scar, further camouflaging it. Some physicians prefer to close the door region using staples. This technique is much quicker and easier for the physician. It is also much more uncomfortable for the patient. Sleeping on hard staples in the back of your scalp can be very painful. Staples are also painful to remove. I prefer to use a fine nylon suture which takes longer to place, but is much more comfortable to sleep on and is painless in it’s removal. I also believe that the healing with sutures is better than with staples. I typically have my patients leave their sutures in for 12-14 days before removing them. In hair transplantation there are always many different ways that each step of the process can be performed. It is imperative that the treating physician make decisions that are best for the patient in both the short term and long term.
Today I will show a patient of mine who received 1653 grafts via FUE using the SAFE system motorized manual punch with the .9mm hand piece. This patient was experiencing his hair loss primarily in the frontal scalp and this is where the majority of the grafts were placed. I believe the SAFE system which utilizes the blunt tip technology to extract the donor grafts in the best motorized piece of equipment for harvesting grafts via FUE. I also believe that the .9mm punch tip is ideal for extracting intact healthy grafts, while causing the least amount of scarring. Most punches for FUE are 1mm or larger, including the new ARTAS robot which only uses a 1mm punch at present. the difference between .9mm and 1mm may not seem like much, but when you multiply 1500 or 1600 times .1mm it adds up to a significant amount of increased scarring with the larger punch tip. In this patient I also used ACell which is an extracellular matrix (ECM) a natural biological material that can be implanted at the site of an injury or damaged tissue in order to stimulate healing. The graft stimulates the body’s own cells to form new tissue specific to that site (a process referred to as “Auto-cloning”). Therefore, instead of the body producing scar tissue, the body heals by remodeling with new tissue. I mixed the grafts to be implanted with ACell and saline and then at the end of the case I placed all the ACell and saline over the donor region and over the grafted region. The patient reported a minimal amount of crusting after the procedure both in the recipient and donor regions, and quick healing. The photos you will see show the patient immediately pre procedure and then then 7 days later. I will also be charting this patient’s progress throughout the next year with both photos and video. More to follow.
All the best,
Marc Dauer, M.D.
Pre FUE- Follicular Unit Extraction Hair TransplantDonor Zone Pre FUE Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant
Donor Zone 1 Week After FUE- Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant
Recipient Region 1 week post FUE- Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant
Today I will demonstrate a case I recently performed utilizing FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) to harvest the individual follicles and subsequently transplanted the follicles into and eyebrow scar. Traditionally I would not usually perform FUE in an eyebrow transplant case as it only requires a small incision in order to harvest the number of follicles necessary in order to restore typical eyebrows to normal appearing density. In patients who insist on shaving their hair extremely short (#2 buzz cut or shorter) FUE is a better option in order to make sure that the scar does not show through. In a small FUE case I do not have to shave the entire donor area, and can shave a small strip of hair to harvest the donor follicles and then the patient can cover the donor region by combing the hair above over the shaved area. As you can see from these results the transplanted follicles into the scar grey very nicely and the patient was very happy with the final outcome. I have also used FUE to harvest follicles from the neck in order to transplant into mustache scars (in patients with cleft palate deformities and others) and other beard scars with excellent results. Below I have shown the before and after photos of this patient with the eyebrow scar.
All the best,
Marc Dauer, M.D.
Before Photo Showing Scar In The Eyebrow
Post FUE and Transplanted Hair Follicles Into Eyebrow Scar
Here is a brand new hair transplant patient testimonial of one of my patients. His story is touching and personal, and his results dramatic. This is after a single procedure so the hairline is very conservative, but in additional procedures we may lower the hairline slightly. I prefer to be conservative in the placement of the hairline on the first procedure, giving the patient a higher density of hair, as opposed to a lower hairline and lower density of hair. My patients are very happy with this plan and the results it affords them.
Today I will discuss the first few weeks following Eyebrow Transplant surgery. Eyebrow Transplantation has become a much more popular procedure as of late. More people are discovering how effective and natural the procedure can be when performed by the right surgeon. I was one of the first surgeons in the country performing the procedure and as such have had the opportunity to perform a great number of cases. In addition, I have refined the overall technique in ways that greatly improve both the immediate post operative period and the final result.
In a typical Eyebrow Transplant procedure I will place between 100-300 single hair grafts per eyebrow. The number depends on the patients facial symmetry, gender, hair color, and eyebrow hair loss, among other factors. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthetic. In the immediate post operative period I tell patients that they should expect to see some swelling around the eyes and possibly even some bruising around the eyes. This typically peaks at around day 3 and resolves by day 5. Within 24 hours of the grafts being placed they form tiny scabs around the grafts that look like little grains of sand. Immediately after the procedure the patient gets a good idea of how the eyebrows will eventually look because I place the eyebrow hairs at about the same length as typical eyebrow hairs. Within a week most of the crusts fall out and a few of the transplanted hairs may fall out, but for the most part the patient is left with most of the new transplanted eyebrow hairs. Beginning in the second week the transplanted eyebrow hair grafts begin to fall out. Usually by the end of the first month, most of the transplanted eyebrow hair grafts have fallen out and the patient is left with eyebrows similar to what they had before the procedure. During this “in between” time the patient may continue to put on eyebrow makeup just as they did before the procedure.
At around 3 months post eyebrow transplant the new eyebrow hair grafts begin to grow in. Usually the patient will notice more hair between 4-6 months post operatively and at 12 months the patient will see the full result from the eyebrow transplant procedure. Below I will show a patient of mine pre operatively and 2 weeks post operatively to give you an idea of the typical look in the immediate post operative period.
If you have additional questions about Eyebrow Transplants please feel free to contact me.
Today I will discuss the general timeline post hair transplant. Typically within 24 hours after the procedure tiny crusts that look like grains of sand form around the transplanted hairs whether they are on the scalp, eyebrow, face, or body. These tiny scabs begin to fall off around post op days 3-4 and are usually gone within 7-10 days. Keeping the grafts moist or applying an antibiotic ointment may loosen the crusts and have them fall off earlier. Most of the transplanted hairs being to fall out at around 2 weeks post operatively and usually by the end of the first month post transplant most of the transplanted hairs are all gone and the patient looks like they did prior the procedure. Typically , the hair begins to grow back at around 12 weeks. The patient usually does not notice any change until around 5-6 months, at which point approximately 50% of the new hair growth may be seen. Full growth is usually not achieved until 12 months post procedure and continued growth may be seen for up to 24 months post procedure. Patients who have undergone a second or third procedure may see a slightly delayed growth timeline.
I hope this information is helpful to all of those considering Hair Restoration.
Today I would like to discuss the issue of donor strip scars and how to approach them when they are too wide, or noticeable, or the patient just wishes to cut their hair very short. In the world of Hair Restoration today there are many physicians trying to push the envelope of grafts in a single session. Physicians trying to perform 4000, 5000, or even 6000 grafts in a single session. Using the strip method, the only way to achieve these numbers is by taking a donor strip that is very wide. This puts undue tension on the skin closure and can then result in very wide donor scars. Sometimes though, even under the best of circumstances and a proper closure, a wider than expected donor scar can also occur. I have been seeing more and more of these patients from other physicians recently.
After much experience I am finding that when you attempt to excise these scars, often times they will just come back again. The best approach to this situation is to harvest grafts via FUE ( Follicular Unit Extraction) and then transplant the grafts into the scarred areas that are devoid of hair or have very little hair in them. Typically the grafts grow nicely through the scar tissue and provide hair coverage of the scar which acts to conceal the scar thus making it more feasible to cut the hair short.
I have included photos below of a patient who had multiple strip scars from a procedure performed by another physician. The ‘before’ photos show the donor area shaved and the donor scars. The ‘after’ photo shows the FUE punctate sites (these heal in about a week) and the hair immediately transplanted into the donor scars. A difference in the donor scars with hair transplanted into them is immediately visible and when the hair grows in this should provide nice coverage to the donor scars and allow the patient to cut their hair much shorter than was possible before.
In years past patients who underwent hair transplant procedures experienced a significant amount of facial swelling in the forehead and around the eyes post procedure. Typically the swelling occurred at around 3 days post operatively after the hair transplant and usually resolved by around 6 days post operatively. Oral steroids have been used in the past to combat this swelling and definitely helped to reduce the swelling in many instances, but taking oral steroids, even in small doses, can subject the patient to other possible complications. This led the hair transplant community to look for other options. In the context of any hair transplant procedure I use what is called “tumescence” to allow for easier graft placement. Tumescence is where saline fluid is injected into the scalp in the regions where the new hair is to be transplanted. This accomplishes a few different things. Firstly, it compresses the vasculature down below which then allows us to cause less vascular injury when placing the grafts. Also, it stretches the scalp which also causes less bleeding, thus allowing for better visualization. Finally the stretching of the scalp also “widens the playing field” of the area to receive the hair transplants, thus allowing us to place the grafts closer together. When the scalp shrinks back to it usual size this helps to create optimal density. What I now routinely do is mix in a small amount of injectable steroid solution, diluted in the saline that is to be used for tumescence. In addition, I no longer give any oral steroids. Since there is no downside to diluting such a small amount of steroid into the tumescence fluid, this make it much safer for the patient then taking oral steroids and the results have shown that greater than 90% of my patients experience no post operative swelling after a hair transplant procedure. In the rare case that swelling does occur, it is then possible to treat with oral strides if so desired. This truly has been a major advance in the field and one that greatly benefits the patients and decreases possible complications.