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About Hair Transplant Scars
Hair transplant surgery continues to be the top method for natural, permanent hair restoration in the U.S. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), over 18,000 hair transplant surgeries were performed in 2009. And with the continued improvement of hair transplant surgery techniques and results, this procedure seems destined to help many more hair loss patients in the future.
But like any surgical procedure, things can sometimes go awry—either during the hair transplant surgery itself or during the recovery process. In any case, there are a number of hair transplant patients who wind up with hair transplant scars post surgery. In this article we’ll discuss how hair transplant scars may occur, how to avoid getting hair transplant scars, and lastly, how to treat hair transplant scars.
How Hair Transplant Scars Develop
Post hair transplant surgery, hair transplant scars commonly occur on donor hair areas on the back and sides of the head. Hair transplant scars won’t develop the same way for each patient. Even though the cause of hair transplant scarring can easily be linked to the transplant process, the appearance, severity and pattern of hair transplant scars can differ greatly from patient to patient.
Since the surgical excision of donor hair grafts or follicular units can create tiny lacerations that damage the follicle site, it’s common for scars to develop there as the skin tissue heals post procedure.
If a patient develops moderate scar tissue at the donor follicle site, it could impede future hair growth in the area, exposing the scars so they’re readily apparent to patients and others.
Hair transplant scars may be worse for patients with a natural tendency to scar. Hair transplant scar development may also be tied to the ineptitude, or conversely the expertise, of the hair transplant surgeon who performed the treatment. Post surgery, mistreatment or damage to scalp or follicle areas during the recovery can also affect hair transplant scar development.
The appearance and pattern of hair transplant surgery scars will be most influenced by the hair transplant surgery technique that’s used. Typically, "strip" method hair transplants, that use a strip of donor scalp and hair tissue for transplantation, leave a horizontal scar line across the back of the patient’s scalp.
In Follicular Unit Transplantation (F.U.T.), smaller donor units of 3-4 hairs are transplanted at a time. Hair transplant scars associated with F.U.T. are more spotty in appearance than strip hair transplants.
How to Avoid Getting Hair Transplant Scars
If you have recently become aware of a worsening hair loss situation, and are considering hair transplant surgery to remedy it, you’ll obviously want to avoid hair transplant scarring at all costs.
The best way to avoid hair transplant scars is to:
- Choose a hair transplant technique that causes minimal to no scalp tissue damage during the transplant procedure
- Choose a highly qualified hair transplant surgeon to perform the procedure
- Follow all pre and post hair transplant care instructions as dictated by your doctor
By doing some comparisons of hair transplant types on your own and with your doctor prior to surgery, you’ll feel more confident that you’ve selected the right hair transplant method to keep your scalp looking scar-free.
Hair Transplant Methods Least Likely to Cause Scars
A good rule of thumb for identifying the transplant method least likely to create hair transplant scars is to look at the size of the transplant units or grafts being used. The larger the size of the donor hair graft or follicular unit, and the larger the number of grafts being transplanted in total, the greater the chances for hair transplant scarring.
Currently, the hair transplant method least associated with causing hair transplant scars is Follicular Unit Extraction or F.U.E. Rather than removing a graft strip or multiple follicular units at a time to transplant, F.U.E. can remove one or two single hair follicles at a time, to leave little to no mark behind.
How to Treat Hair Transplant Scars?
Patients’ first instincts upon detecting a hair transplant scar might be to run for help or hide under their hats. However, for those with thicker or longer hair, hair transplant scar treatment may be altogether unnecessary. If patients can comb or style their hair over the transplant scar tissue, no one ever has to know but you.
Unfortunately for the majority of hair transplant patients, covering up hair transplant scars may not be convenient or possible. In that case, the most viable hair transplant scar treatment options include scalp scar revision and laser skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing will only be useful for hair transplant patients choosing to shave the backs of their heads, whereby hair coverage isn’t the goal. Laser skin resurfacing will reduce the actual appearance of existing scalp scar tissue.
During or post hair transplant surgery, some surgeons perform scalp scar revision techniques like "Trigrowthic Closure," "Trichophytic Closure" and "Double Edged Trichophytic Closure". These procedures have slight variations, but all three use stitches to close up donor follicle sites following hair extraction, to prevent scars from developing or to remove existing scars. If patients want to see hair growth in place of their hair transplant scars, additional hair transplant surgery may be needed.
To learn more about hair transplant scar treatment, or to identify which hair transplant scar treatment method is best for you, we recommend consulting with a professional hair transplant surgeon in your area. They will have more information about the risks and options involved for you personally, as well as recommendations for how to proceed with your transplant scar treatment.