While all patients benefit from hair transplants, African American patients present unique challenges when undergoing a hair restoration procedure.
Fortunately, some specialized approaches can help ensure your transplant is successful and yields the results you desire. Those techniques include a technical approach to harvesting and dissecting your follicular units and specific tools designed to minimize damage and maximize the survival rate of your hair grafts.
Donor Site Selection
Selecting a donor site is a complex process involving several factors. A skilled surgeon will consider the graft size, the area of need, the patient’s age and gender, and any medical conditions that may be present. For example, a smoker might be better off not getting a transplant. The most important consideration is the type of graft to be used. In general, split-thickness skin grafts (STSG) are best suited for restoring a receding brow line. They are also a good choice for large areas of hair loss, such as the temples and hairline. STSGs are not for the faint of heart, though, as they can be painful, and regrowth rates may be low.
Donor site selection is a worthy endeavor for a seasoned surgeon. The biggest blunders are usually related to poor site selection and overly aggressive post-operative therapy. The aforementioned tidbits may be solved with a thorough preoperative evaluation of the patient’s medical condition and history. This will lead to an informed decision-making process which, in turn, results in the most successful outcome for the patient.
Hair loss is a common problem that affects men and women. Nearly half of all men will experience some balding by the time they are 50 years old, and many women will also suffer from thinning hair or extensive hair loss.
Fortunately, there are several options for hair transplants for African American patients that also work well for different people. One of the most influential and long-term solutions is micro scalp pigmentation, sometimes called a “hairline tattoo” or “scalp tattoo.”
Scalp micro pigmentation is an innovative cosmetic treatment that creates the appearance of fuller, thicker hair by injecting natural-looking pigment into the skin. It’s alternative to hair transplant surgery, which can be expensive, invasive, and have high failure rates.
The process involves a provider using a thin needle to deposit tiny dots of color on the scalp, covering bald spots or thinning hair. These dots vary in size and depth, making the area look fuller and denser.
The procedure can take several hours, and you’ll need to have it done regularly for the best results. During the process, your provider may use numbing cream to reduce pain. During the procedure, you’ll typically have some redness and a stinging sensation, which usually disappears after a few hours.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a hair transplant method that takes individual natural hair groupings called follicular units from the scalp. It is less invasive than traditional strip harvesting and leaves no linear scar appearance. This allows the patient to keep their hair short without worrying about a strip scar, and healing time is much quicker.
In the FUE procedure, the surgeon uses a specialized punch less than 1mm in diameter to remove individual hairs one at a time. Initially, the scalp is scored with a sharp point, followed by a light punch to penetrate deeper into the skin and soft tissue surrounding each follicular unit.
The surgeon uses a light punch because the angle and curvature of the follicular unit are not visible, and the sharp energy might sever the underlying follicular unit. This may cause damage to the graft or even rupture the follicle.
Another critical factor is the hair follicles found in African American patients are thicker and more curly than in Caucasian patients, which makes the FUE procedure more challenging to harvest successfully. This can lead to higher transaction rates or the failure of transplanted hair to take root and be successful in the recipient area.
Dr. Yazdan employs strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction (FUE) methods to optimize donor site yields for his patients. He prefers FUE to the strip method for many reasons, including the ability to accommodate thinning hair in African American men with shorter hairstyles and the lack of linear scarring familiar with strip harvesting procedures.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is an advanced hair restoration technique that uses follicular unit grafts to recreate your natural growth pattern and create a permanent solution to thinning hair. Unlike previous hair restoration procedures that used larger grafts and resulted in a pluggy look, the FUT method harvests follicular units, which are groups of 1 to 4 hairs.
These grafts are harvested using stereo-microscopic dissection from the back of the scalp or other body areas. The grafts are then transferred to recipient sites for fuller and more beautiful results.
African American patients with thick, curly hair are ideal candidates for follicular unit transplantation. This type of follicle is often difficult to extract with traditional methods due to its shape, thickness, and orientation.
Because FUT requires a long strip of skin removed, the donor site may take longer to heal than other methods. Scarring is a common complication of this procedure, but it can be reduced by following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions.
Moreover, a dedicated board-certified surgeon can minimize the scar’s appearance by using microdots inserted into the donor area. This helps to conceal the scar and blend it with the surrounding areas of your scalp.
FUT is a wise option among African American hair loss patients, and Bosley physicians are highly trained in this procedure. Our physician can determine the best technique for your needs during a consultation.
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