Am I a good candidate for a transplant as an African American female? What kind of coverage can I expect? (photos)
Doctor Answers 6
I have transplanted hair on chemically burned skin so it can be done. In your case, you would need at least two hair transplants
I can certainly help you with your question. To give you a little about my background — I’m a Board-certified cosmetic surgeon and a Fellowship-trained oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, practicing in Manhattan and Long Island for over 20 years. I’ve been performing hair transplants for this same amount of time, and I’m also the founder of TrichoStem™ Hair Regeneration Centers, which offer a non-surgical alternative to hair transplantation for men and women who suffer from pattern hair loss. The technology we use in this treatment is actually derived from improving the results and healing rates of hair transplants.
Before performing a hair transplant, I usually measure out square centimeters in the problem area that we will need to fill in. In your case, you have a large area at your temples and at the frontal hairline that needs help. We would then determine how much viable hair is available in your donor area that we can use to fill these areas.
A proper evaluation is certainly important in order to determine how much coverage is realistically possible with one transplant. Based on your photos alone, I would suggest a minimum of two hair transplants. You will need to make decisions in terms of priority of where you want to see proportionally more hair because unfortunately, the donor area is very limited.
The challenge when it comes to the hair of people of African descent has to do with density. Usually, the density of hair is not as high as people who are of Caucasian or Asian descent, and this is probably because the individual hair strands are very curly and cannot, by nature, be that close together. On the plus side, the curliness of the hair does give a good amount of coverage. In terms of the technical side of transplantation, the challenge lies in the proper placement of hairs so they grow in a good direction and don’t become ingrown. Another challenge is getting hair grafts to survive. If you think about it, hair transplants involve making many tiny openings in the skin, and if the skin is damaged from things like hair relaxers, it makes healing more difficult.
Keep in mind that hair relaxers essentially belong to the sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide family, which are chemicals comparable to what is used in drain cleaner. This can cause burning of the skin and thinning of the skin.
In our practice, we use a material called extracellular matrix. Extracellular matrix is derived from pig bladder because of its remarkable healing and regeneration properties, which is used for wound healing and for the improvement of the healing of hair grafts after transplantation. It was a fortunate discovery on our part that we learned it could also thicken existing thinning hairs. Today, we use this technology in our treatment called Hair Regeneration where we actually inject platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and extracellular matrix into the scalp to help men and women with pattern hair loss. I think in your situation, we could use variations of this treatment for maximum viability.
An interesting anecdote — hair is certainly remarkably resilient. I once implanted hair in a circular scar which was damaged from chemical hair relaxer and the hair was able to grow out quite nicely. The scar was very thin, and you could go right through it, but thanks to the technology and method and technique of Hair Regeneration, it worked out very well.
That said, I advise that you meet with a hair transplant specialist. Try to seek out someone who is going to guide you throughout the procedure and beyond the procedure. Nowadays, the hair transplant field is full of people either who don’t have a lot of experience and rely heavily on new robotic technologies to harvest grafts, or people who just want to get more procedures done without really thinking of the patients long-term.
I advise you meet with a specialist, and get some realistic opinions. I doubt your donor area will be enough to give you the full coverage you want, so you may also want to consider other options like micropigmentation to improve the appearance of the area.
I hope that was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!
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