Understandably, most hair transplant surgery patients will evaluate the success of their procedure based on the appearance of the once-thinning or balding area of their scalp. After all, bringing back healthy, growing hair is what the process is all about. But what goes into the transplant area must come out from another part of your scalp. Harvesting donor hair is as critical a part of hair restoration surgery as the actual transplanting of the follicles. How those follicles are harvested – and how the donor area looks after harvesting – will have a big impact on how a patient will feel about their appearance after the transplant is completed.
Transplant surgeons typically harvest donor hair from the back and sides of the head where male pattern baldness does not impact hair growth. Since this hair is healthy permanently growing, it makes it perfect for transplantation as it will continue to grow in its new location.
The biggest concern with donor hair harvesting is whether there will be a visible, linear scar left behind after the hair is removed. This is of particular importance for those who wear short hairstyles.
There are two primary methods which hair transplant surgeons can use to harvest donor hair: strip harvesting and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, we favor the latter technique, primarily because of its precision and ability to remove donor hair with significantly less visible scarring than with strip harvesting.
Until the more recent development of the FUE technique, strip harvesting was the most widely used way to extract donor hair. This process involves taking thousands of follicles all at once from the donor area on a “strip” of the scalp. That strip is removed and the doctor then stitches the incision closed, leaving behind a scar that will vary in length depending on how many follicles are needed for the transplant. In addition to scarring, strip harvesting also may involve a longer recovery time than FUE harvesting.
That said, the process does have some positive aspects, particularly the ability to harvest large numbers of follicles in a short period of time.
Follicular Unit Excision
The advantages of FUE over strip harvesting arise from the precision with which surgeons can remove follicles from the scalp. By removing follicles individually, scarring is minimized as is any damage to remaining hair in the donor area.
At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, we perform follicular unit extractions using a technique called the ARTAS® Robotic Procedure which provides unmatched results in transplantation while also dramatically minimizing any visible or structural damage to the donor area.
Using the ARTAS system, our doctors digitally scan areas of the scalp, identifying hair in its natural groupings. Selected follicular units are then precisely removed from the donor area with an image-guided 0.8-1-millimeter circular tool in a scattered pattern, leaving most donor area hair in place so that it retains its original natural appearance.
Because scars are tiny and dot-like in appearance, the donor area on patients who undergo a hair transplant using the ARTAS system should look unscathed and give patients the option to wear shorter hairstyles post-operation.
Schedule an Appointment for a Hair Loss Evaluation Today
If you are concerned about hair loss and are ready to do something about it, we invite you to schedule a hair loss evaluation at the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. Drs. Nusbaum and Rose are internationally acclaimed hair restoration surgeons with more than 40 years combined experience
To receive a personalized consultation and treatment plan, contact us online or call our office directly at 305-925-0222.