Hair loss is a common concern affecting millions of people worldwide, leading to a booming industry of hair restoration solutions. Among the various approaches, hair transplants have gained significant popularity for their effectiveness in restoring natural-looking hair. Central to the success of hair transplant procedures are hair grafts, tiny units of hair follicles that play a pivotal role in achieving lasting and aesthetically pleasing results.
Hair grafts, often referred to simply as grafts, are small clusters of hair follicles that contain one to several hairs. These grafts are harvested from areas of the scalp where hair growth is abundant, typically the back or sides of the head, which are less susceptible to the hormonal influences that cause hair loss. The selection of grafts is crucial to ensure they match the natural hair growth pattern of the recipient site, resulting in a seamless and natural appearance.
If you are considering a hair transplant, you may already know that you will need a specific number of hair grafts transplanted into the bald or thin areas of your scalp. The number of grafts needed varies in each individual case, but is based on the size of the area to be treated. But do you actually know what a hair graft is?
What is a hair graft?
A hair graft is a piece of skin, in others words, a skin graft, that happens to contain hair follicles. It is composed of a follicular unit and its surrounding tissue. Follicular units are bundles of hair that grow together in clumps of 1 to 4 hairs. The grafts also contain sebaceous (oil) glands and some fat.
Back in the bad old days of “hair plugs” a graft could literally be the size of a pencil eraser and contain 5-8 follicular units. That is why they looked unnatural and looked like…well, like plugs. Now they are extremely small and natural, so they are undetectable as a “transplant.”
How are hair grafts harvested?
Although technically a graft can be harvested from anywhere on the body, grafts are usually selected from the back of the scalp, due to the fact that the hair is robust in that area and not susceptible to DHT, the hormone that causes hair loss in men. Furthermore, grafts from body hair tend to have characteristics that are not similar to scalp hair, such as curl and orientation.
At RESTORE, FUE grafts are harvested manually using the Harris S.A.F.E™ System—invented and patented by me and now used throughout the world—or by utilizing the ARTAS® robot, which also employs the Harris S.A.F.E™ System technology. In the case of the ARTAS robot excision, The hair in the donor area is shaved to the length of a military cut (a clipper with no guard). In the case where a patient does not want to shave the donor area short, I offer a no-shave FUE which means only the hairs that are targeted for excision are cut short, then covered by the remaining hair.
Once the grafts are harvested technicians utilizing microscopes sort the follicular units into groups containing 1 to 4 individual hairs.
How are the hair grafts placed?
The next step involves the physician making incisions in the bald or thin region known as the recipient area. These incisions are exactly the same size as the individual grafts. The grafts are then handled by the cuff of dermal fat in which they are encased. They are inserted one-by-one into the scalp, fitting precisely into their new home in terms of depth, width and angle, like perfectly planted mini seeds. The graft must not be plunged in too deeply, but rather the top of the graft must reside just above the scalp surface to avoid what is known as “pitting.” The natural characteristics of the hair, such as wave, length and diameter, mimic existing hair. The goal is to replicate nature.
Recovery and Post-Procedure Care
After the transplant, patients are provided with post-procedure care instructions to optimize the healing process and promote the survival of the transplanted hair grafts. The initial recovery period involves some degree of redness, swelling, and scabbing, which gradually subside within a few days to weeks. Full results are typically visible several months after the procedure as the transplanted hair follicles enter their growth phase.
Benefits and Considerations
Hair grafts play a pivotal role in the success of hair transplant procedures, offering numerous benefits to individuals seeking a visibly undetectable solution to hair loss.
Properly harvested and transplanted hair grafts closely mimic the natural growth pattern of existing hair, resulting in a seamless and authentic appearance. The careful consideration of factors such as hairline design and graft placement ensures that the transplanted hair blends effortlessly with the patient's own hair.
Hair transplant procedures, when performed with precision, provide long-lasting results. The transplanted hair follicles, once established, continue to grow and behave like natural hair. This distinguishes hair transplants from temporary solutions such as topical medications or non-surgical interventions.
The use of hair grafts allows for a high degree of customization, enabling surgeons to tailor the procedure to the unique characteristics of each patient. This customization extends to factors such as hairline design, graft placement, and overall aesthetic goals, ensuring a personalized and satisfying outcome.
While hair transplant procedures are surgical in nature, advancements in techniques, especially with FUE, have significantly reduced downtime. Patients can typically resume their regular activities within a few days, with minimal discomfort and scarring.
How do the hair grafts survive the process?
Your follicles are precious—the last thing you want is to lose them in transition. The following factors are monitored:
- Temperature. Follicles cannot withstand heat, and chilling them can have a dramatic effect on their survival rate.
- Oxygen. The follicular units cannot be deprived of oxygen for prolonged periods.
- Hydration. The grafts can easily become dehydrated, which in the worst case can cause them to die. The grafts are always kept out of the holding solution for the shortest amount of time possible.
- Durable donor follicles. Only follicles that are not susceptible to the hormone DHT are considered for transplantation.
How many grafts will I need?
It’s impossible to say how many grafts an individual will need without an assessment of your unique situation. The short answer is between 800 and 3,600, but many factors determine the actual graft count to be transplanted.
Hair grafts are the building blocks of successful hair transplant procedures, serving as the key to achieving natural-looking and lasting results. The meticulous harvesting, preparation, and transplantation of these tiny units contribute to the restoration of hair growth in areas affected by baldness or thinning. As technology and techniques continue to advance, hair transplants have become a viable and effective solution for individuals seeking a remedy to hair loss. With careful planning, skilled surgical execution, and adherence to post-procedure care, hair transplant procedures can provide a renewed sense of confidence and a natural-looking head of hair.
Contact the Team at RESTORE!
RESTORE is your ally in the battle against thinning hair. Our comprehensive solutions are designed to address the root causes of hair thinning, offering a personalized approach for individuals seeking to regain confidence in their locks. With a team of experts specializing in hair restoration led by Dr. James Harris, we focus on providing advanced treatments tailored to your unique needs.
We understand the emotional impact of hair loss, and our dedicated professionals work with you to create a customized plan that fits your lifestyle and preferences. From FDA-approved medications to our state-of-the-art No-Shave F.U.E. procedure, our commitment is to help you achieve a fuller, thicker head of hair. Say goodbye to the worries of hair thinning and embrace the transformative journey with RESTORE – your partner in reclaiming a vibrant and confident you.