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Hair Removal

They say looks aren't everything, but losing your hair can make you feel otherwise. Men and women with thinning or balding hair often feel self-conscious and uncomfortable around others.

How hair replacement works

Hair replacement and transplants are more natural looking than other options—and permanent. Hair replacement, or hair transplantation, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that gives men and women a fuller head of hair.

This procedure involves removing hair from an inconspicuous part of the body and transplanting it to the areas that need more hair. In most cases, the donor hair is taken from the sides or the back of the scalp. These areas are usually not visible, and the hair taken from them looks most natural when transplanted.

Surgeons use a couple of common methods during hair transplantation.

Strip harvesting involves removing small strips of skin with hair from the donor area that are then grafted onto the area that needs more hair. Because this method leaves scars and doesn't look completely natural, it isn't used as often as it once was.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is the most common type of hair transplantation procedure used today. It involves removing individual hair follicles and transplanting them onto the area with thinning hair.

This type of procedure leaves smaller scars, if any, and the results generally look more natural.

Best candidates for hair transplants

Nearly everyone facing hair loss is a good candidate for hair transplantation, especially if the thinning hair makes you self-conscious. While a majority of men undergo hair transplantation, women can also benefit from this procedure.

In fact, women may benefit more, because a thick and healthy head of hair is often popularly equated with ideas of beauty.

People suffering from pattern baldness are the most common candidates for this type of procedure. Male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), for instance, can result in patchy bald areas. Some people suffering from this condition may have luck with hair transplantation procedures.

Most people must meet a few other criteria before undergoing hair transplantation. First, you must have a healthy immune system because, just like with any surgery, there is some risk of infection.

Also, your hair-donor area should be full and thick. Depending on the type of procedure you undergo, you may also want to wear your hair long in this area to cover any scars.

Undergoing a hair transplant

Your first meeting with a hair transplantation surgeon will be a consultation. During this appointment, the surgeon will ask you about your general medical history and your family's history of hair loss.

He or she will also evaluate your hair loss and give you a recommendation on the best course of action.

The night before your procedure, your doctor will most likely tell you not to eat or drink anything. You'll be given an anesthesia right before the procedure, which could cause nausea.

After the procedure, you'll likely feel a little groggy, so you should arrange for someone to drive you home. Your scalp will be somewhat sore, and you may need to change dressings and bandages periodically.

Notify your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any signs of infection, such as fever or discharge from your scalp. Any stitches will also be removed between one week to ten days after the procedure.

Your healing time after hair replacement and transplants might last anywhere from a few days to a week, usually determined by the type of procedure your surgeon used and how much hair was transplanted.

Choosing a hair transplant surgeon

Some companies spend a lot of money advertising hair transplants, and some can take advantage of your desire to improve your looks. So, you should investigate any hair replacement center or doctor thoroughly before undergoing this procedure.

A botched operation can cause pain, injury and possible disfigurement.

Check Angie's List to read through members' experiences with the doctors you're considering. Verify their qualifications, education and accepted insurance plans.