Restoring Hair Artistically
Is it true that hair restoration rarely works as a remedy for baldness?
Well, what’s true is a poor hair restoration procedure is easy to spot. But we don’t notice the men and women who have had successful hair restorations.
“When hair restoration is performed by a talented plastic surgeon using current techniques, the results usually look very natural,” says Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, Director of the Foundation for Hair Restoration and Plastic Surgery.
Today, the most current techniques surround follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplants. First, hair follicles are ‘harvested’ from parts of the patient’s body where there’s hair to spare. During the procedure, hundreds of these follicles are extracted and then meticulously placed where needed.
The work is detailed and painstaking. A wrong move during harvesting might result in a transected follicle, which will not grow back. A wrong move during placement could result in an unnatural appearance. But a talented surgeon doesn’t make wrong moves.
We asked Dr. Epstein if this level of attention from a plastic surgeon throughout the procedure is typical.
“Oh, no. I mention in my lectures all the time that, during hair restoration, a physician should always be present. But that’s not always the case. The physician is almost like a painter, creating the new hairline. The harvesting is where we determine how much paint we have. And the placement is all about how you use the paint.”
”The physician is almost like a painter, creating the new hairline. The harvesting is where we determine how much paint we have. And the placement is all about how you use the paint.”
How long does it take for patients to truly know how successful the procedure was?
“Well, there are two parts to that,” he says. “First off, talented surgeons can perform this procedure without shaving the scalp. So after a couple of days, my patients are perfectly presentable and can go back to work. But it can take up to a year for the newly placed follicles to fully grow in.”
There can be a lot of anxiety during that wait, which highlights how important it is to select a talented physician. Dr. Epstein, in fact, sees many patients who are unhappy with their initial procedures. Which means those patients have lost a year waiting for the best possible outcome.
Hair restoration is not just restricted to the top of men’s heads, by the way.
Many women, for example, suffer from stable but naturally high hairlines. This can be remedied through hairline lowering, which is a different type of procedure than FUE, and may not be available from more mass-market providers. Eyebrows and beards can also be restored.
“In the end, there’s a lot a real expert can do when it comes to hair restoration,” says Dr. Epstein. The possibilities for a natural-looking outcome are extraordinary for patients who do their research and are willing to engage with a physician who is expert in the field.”
How can patients be sure they’ve found such an expert? First, look to see if a prospective physician is certified by the American Board of Hair Restoration. They only certify doctors with an in-depth knowledge of hair anatomy and preventive therapies for baldness, plus a portfolio of successful cases.
Finally, a consultation is critical. “Meet with prospective physicians before you commit,” advises Dr. Epstein. “Take time with him or her. Ask questions. Look at cases together that are like your own. Ask if he or she will be involved throughout your surgery.”
Do all that, and your chances of finding a real artist will go sky high.