Hair Loss Advice


Hair Transplantation for Women: A Visit to the Operating Room

Hair Transplantation for Women: A Visit to the Operating Room

Medically Reviewed On: January 12, 2001

Webcast Transcript

SURGEON: Your hair loss from there back is much more severe.

ANNOUNCER: Hair loss can be an embarrassing and emotionally devastating condition for anyone, and women often have an especially difficult time coping with the social stigma that comes with it. Many options are available to women suffering from hair loss, but one of the most successful and fascinating is microsurgical hair restoration.

SURGEON: See how much thicker your hair is here?


SURGEON: This can be thicker through here.


ANNOUNCER: This revolutionary procedure involves the transfer of hair follicles from one healthy area of the scalp to other sections in need of hair. Over the years, this technique has become a state-of-the-art method for correcting hair loss in both men and women.

Just how is it done? Let's join our specialist and his team as they perform this remarkable surgery on a woman whose hair has begun to thin noticeably.

SURGEON: If you'd rather have me leave this area alone now, later on I can fill it in more if you want me to, and today I'll just fill in from there on back, under my hand.

PATIENT: What would be the benefit to waiting? Is there any?


PATIENT: Let's just do it.

SURGEON: She has a typical female hairline, and we're just going to reinforce it, build it up, because it has thinned. Then behind the hairline, back here, is where we'll put most of the hair, and I want to outline the area where we're going to put the hair. We need to see where it needs to be thickened.

ANNOUNCER: The doctor begins by marking the donor recipient sites. These are the sections of the balding scalp where the healthy hair follicles will be inserted. After these marks are made, the doctor marks the donor area as well. Next, the nurse prepares the patient for the removal of the donor area.

NURSE: This is called Versed. It's just to relax you a little bit.


NURSE: It just takes the edge off a little bit. It's not going to completely make you fall asleep or anything like that, okay?


NURSE: And it is an injection, so it goes in your shoulder area. What I'm going to be doing next, since we are working in the hairline area, I'm going to do a supraorbital block. It's a tiny injection above each eyebrow, so if you get a little anesthesia above that area, it helps to partially anesthetize the hairline. I'm going to be starting now in the back, and I'll be starting right over here.

ANNOUNCER: Once the patient is sedated and the anesthetics injected into the scalp, the doctor injects saline solution into the donor area. This salt water solution turns the surface of the donor tissue hard, which makes it easier for the doctor to lift and separate the hair follicles. Once a segment of donor tissue is removed, it is then given to a team of medical assistants to divide into tiny units which will fit into the recipient sites. While the assistants work in the lab, the doctor starts to create these recipient sites while explaining the procedure to the patient.

SURGEON: Now I'm just going to put these sites for these hairs to live.


SURGEON: You're losing about a tenth of a drop of blood from each one of these. If you ever did give blood, you would lose about 20 times as much blood as you're going to lose today. We're going to put the hair in in a very random, scattered pattern. Now, I'll do some two fine hair grafts just immediately behind them, and then behind that will come the coarser hair. But we want the very frontal hairline to be a fine hair so it looks feathered and soft.

We have four or five well-trained technicians who are taking that hairs that I removed from your donor area in a strip of hair, that strip being about six or eight inches wide from left to right, and about 6 to 10 mm high from top to bottom, and that strip then may contain about 2,000 hairs, or some number like that, maybe 3,000 hairs, depending on what we pick. They then divide that strip into the follicular units, which are one-hair, two-hair and three-hair units, and they're using bright lights, a light table where the light comes up through what they're working, and magnification. Once I create this recipient site in the correct location, angle and direction, they can't go in wrong.

ANNOUNCER: Next, the follicular hair units from the donor tissue are inserted into the recipient sites. Once the hairs are inserted, another specialist comes in to sew the donor area closed.

SURGEON: A very flexible scalp. It's elastic, so it comes together very nicely.

NURSE: It looks good.

ANNOUNCER: Next, the doctor inspects the grafts in the recipient sites.

SURGEON: This hair that we put in today is going to start to grow. Once it starts to grow, as I told you, it'll grow a half inch a month. It's not going to be like your hair, it is your hair.


SURGEON: That's the beauty of the treatment, that it requires no special treatment. You shampoo it and do whatever you want to do.

PATIENT: Thank you. It was really a pleasure to be able to do it. It's true what they say.

SURGEON: It's going to be exciting.

PATIENT: It's true what they say, that when you get done you can't believe that it's not worth the worry in the anticipation stage.

ANNOUNCER: Finally, when everything else is done, the nurse goes over the instruction sheet and prepares the patient for departure.

NURSE: So tomorrow you can just cut over here.

PATIENT: Release the whole thing.

NURSE: Mm-hm, and then wet the top.


NURSE: Take those off.


NURSE: If it doesn't come off, if it's stuck to your scalp.

ANNOUNCER: For those who thought hair loss was incurable, hair transplantation offers new hope.