Hair transplant as treatment and cure for Alopecia - A discussion
Hair loss and baldness causing concern, and as a chronic ailment, it can cause severe psychological distress, and significantly impact the overall well being of the patient. Alopecia is the clinical term for 'hair loss/baldness', and it is important to understand the different types - since treatment options vary according to type - if you are in the initial stages of baldness or alopecia, the most crucial step is to get the correct diagnosis, and determine what exactly is the cause of your alopecia.
Hair transplant, crudely put, involves the surgical removal of clumps of hair from one site of the body to another. The most common techniques of hair transplant are Follicular Unit Extraction (FEU), and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), both done using sophisticated micrograft surgery. Hair transplant today, is a highly skilled speciality of cosmetic surgery, with robotics, automated surgery, cloning, being possible future evolutions of the procedure. Considered mostly as a cosmetic procedure, it is mostly offered by private clinics (costs not covered by state or insurance); middle aged men with moderate hair loss are the most common beneficiaries of this procedure, the transplantation may require multiple sessions.
Certain types of alopecia can be more or less mitigated, if not successfully cured, by hair transplants, while certain other types of alopecia have little chance of cure through hair transplants. Androgenetic alopecia or male-pattern baldness, thought to arise from the action of the dihydrotestosterone hormone(DHT), can be treated with hair transplants. Similarly, female pattern baldness (another form of androgenetic alopecia) is also amenable for treatment through hair transplants - of late hair transplants for receding female hairlines have attained popularity. Cicatricial alopecia or scarring alopecia is a rare from of alopecia that leads to permanent hair loss, but once the condition has 'stabilzed', hair transplant surgery is a possible technique for hair restoration.
Alopecia (Areata, Totalis, Universalis) known as AA, AT, AU are mostly auto immune disorders - there is a strong genetic susceptibility to these conditions. Patients with AA, AT or AU are usually not advised to seek hair transplantation surgery. These patients are usually treated with topical steroid injections. Still, hair transplant is not completely ruled out as an option for these patients, and medical journals have reported one or two (rare instances) cases, where patients with Alopecia Areata have successfully undergone hair transplants. If the area affected by AA is small, and if biopsies show no inflammation below the scalp, then hair transplant can be considered as an option for the patient, provided the physician/surgeon is a specialist and an expert. The big risk in these cases is that the transplanted hair can fall out again - a huge reason why transplants are not generally recommended for patients who suffer alopecia due to auto immuneconditions.
If we look over to the USA for a moment, currently, the US FDA has approved minoxidil and finasteride for treatment of androgenetic alopecia. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF.org), is the community for AA patients and provides support and information for them. Hair transplant options should be considered only after a thorough understanding of the patients' situation and is generally not recommended as a 'go to' technique to cure alopecia.