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Expert Speak

Laser Assisted Hair Transplantation

By Dr B N Rao

There is hope for bald people, says Dr B N Rao. He is the chairman of BNR Skin Hospitals where laser assisted hair transplantations are performed. Dr Rao discusses aspects of this process.

Tell us something about Laser Assisted Hair Transplantation…

Laser Hair Transplantation is permanent treatment for hair loss. Recent innovations have made it simpler, more comfortable, and natural-looking. On an outpatient basis, using local anesthesia, surgical transplant of hair from areas of permanent growth into balding or thinning areas is made. The number of sessions required depends on the look one wants to achieve.

Who can go in for this procedure?

Both men and women with balding or thinning hair may benefit from this procedure. There is no age restriction for selection of patients, although younger patients fare better because of quicker healing, provided they are medically fit.

Is Laser Assisted Hair Transplant accepted by mainstream medicine?

This treatment became popular worldwide during the 1990s. The Food and Drug Administrator (FDA) USA, has approved the technology and procedure.

What does Laser Assisted Hair Transplant procedure involve?

The technique involves.

  1. Taking of strips of skin bearing hair roots from the ‘permanent’ area or the back of the head (the donor area).

  2. Hair roots are then separated from these strips into plugs containing single or double hairs. The plugs are then transplanted into evenly spaced holes in the bald area prepared by the user.

  3. The procedure takes 3-4 hours and is performed under local anesthesia. 1000- 2000 grafts are placed in this time.

  4. The scabs (crusts), which form after the transplant, drop off in 1-2 weeks and hair re-grows over a period of 3 – 6 months.

Could you describe the actual surgical procedure?

This is a surgical procedure under local anaesthesia.

  1. 1 - 2 weeks prior to surgery, bloodwork is completed to confirm there will be no medical complications.

  2. One week prior to surgery the use of aspirin and vitamin E should be discontinued as these cause thinning of the blood.

  3. The use of any other drugs - legal or otherwise may affect the results of the hair transplantation and should be discussed at the time of your blood work.

  1. Food can be taken before arrival to the hospital.

  2. Upon arrival, design of the hairline is finalised.

  3. Medication is then provided for relaxation

How is this an improvement on previous surgical procedures?

Traditional procedures are painful, bleeding and cosmetically unsatisfactory solution to baldness. The advantages of the new Laser Technique are that minute (0.6 mm) holes can be evenly spaced over the bald (recipient) area. The laser while drilling coagulates blood vessels and there is no bleeding. Graft uptake is in the region of 85 to 95%, healing is quicker and no scarring or tufting of hairs occurs at the site of transplant.

Laser assisted hair transplant like the micro and mini punch grafting are now obsolete, 4mm punch grafting technique, is indicated for male and female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) mainly and for other forms of non-scarring baldness, excluding patterns of baldness which are temporary, respond to medication, caused by drugs or associated with other system or organ disease (example: collagen vascular diseases or cancers).

What are the benefits of Laser Assisted Hair Transplantation?

  1. Natural Hair
  2. No Scarring.
  3. Permanent.
  4. Minimal Bleeding
  5. Single procedure Graft Uptake
  6. Faster procedure and results.
  7. Quick recovery
  8. No significant side effects

Do you think there are some psychological advantages?

  1. The laser ablates bald skin which is replaced with growing hair. Slit grafts (even micro and minigrafts) are done by jamming the donor hairs into narrow slits which commonly results in crowding and bumps.

  2. The depth of the laser application is computer controlled, therefore, sparing the deep blood vessels which nourish the hair.

  3. Because the laser beam can focus to the width of a single human hair, there is never any damage to neighboring hairs at the transplant site.

  4. Sites are prepared using a Laser. The laser causes vaporization of tissue due to its attraction to water that is in our skin. The laser causes evaporation of tissue to create either a small slit or hole. This method requires the correct type of laser to ensure success. A pulsating laser helps prevent thermal injury when used by an experienced physician. It is found the laser to be quite helpful when partial thickness vaporization is performed. In this method, the subcutaneous fat is not encroached. A small 0.8-mm hole is made in the epidermal/dermal region. This is then advanced into the subcutaneous fat with a blunt end probe. The prepared graft is then placed into this site.

  5. Because the laser beam can focus to the width of a single human hair, there is never any damage to neighboring hairs at the transplant site

  1. Hair Systems - There are a wide range of materials used to create a full head of hair and attach it to the scalp. Synthetic material doesn't fade but often looks fake. Human hair wears out but can achieve a natural look. All hair systems must be attached to the scalp in some fashion. Some of the more common techniques include weaving the base of hair piece using the customers own hair. As the hair grows, the system must be rewoven. Other systems are glued and taped onto the scalp. Hair systems can achieve a completely full and thick head of hair. There is one major drawback - hair systems are not your own hair.
  2. Medication - Advancements in the scientific community make likely an eventual cure for hair loss. New pharmaceuticals available today are resulting in the re-growth of hair for some people.

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