“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
If you’ve ever seen the classic film Forrest Gump, you probably remember this iconic line spoken by Tom Hanks’ endearing protagonist. Of course, Forrest is right. Life really is full of surprises – and you never know if hair loss is included in your metaphoric box of chocolates.
For most people, it certainly is. Eighty percent of men and about 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss throughout their lifetimes. The culprits behind hair loss are diverse; genetics are often to blame, while other cases are caused by hormonal changes, chronic illness or too-tight ponytails. A recent spike in hair loss instances across the U.S. has been linked to the pandemic – Covid-19 infections (and enduring pandemic-related trauma, such as the loss of a job or loved one) can induce telogen effluvium, or stress-induced hair loss.
But no matter what the root cause, life with hair loss can be a less-than-pleasant endeavor. Although it’s a common occurrence, experiencing hair loss (whether it comes as a surprise or not) can take a hefty toll on a person’s quality of life.
Life Before A Hair Transplant
Changes to a person’s physical appearance, whether they’re related to hair loss or otherwise, can cause significant distress. Of course, not everyone who experiences hair loss will experience this, but generally speaking, hair loss can have a significant psychological impact.
Multiple studies have linked hair loss to lowered self-esteem and decreased confidence. In one study, roughly 75% of women experiencing hair loss reported that their confidence had taken a hit due to the loss. That was compared to two-thirds of men reporting a dent in their own confidence. A 2019 study in the International Journal of Trichology found that androgenic alopecia lowered the quality of life for many men, with a particular impact on their self-perception and interpersonal relations.
Left untreated, hair loss can cause a severe dip in a person’s mental health. The lack of self-esteem can impact multiple arenas of a person’s lifestyle and significantly decrease their quality of life. People with hair loss report increased feelings of depression, anxiety, social anxiety and paranoia compared with the rest of the general population.
That’s why solutions exist to help people who are experiencing life changes brought on by hair loss. That includes topical and oral treatments as well as hair transplants, which result in significant gains not only on your head, but in your quality of life, too.
Life After A Hair Transplant
For people experiencing hair loss, undergoing a hair transplant is an exciting endeavor. A hair transplant can signify the beginning of a new chapter in someone’s life, one that’s characterized by a boost in self-confidence and a higher standard of living.
There are two types of surgical hair transplants you can choose from. A follicular unit transplant, or FUT, involves taking a strip of grafts from the back of your head, separating that strip into individual grafts under a microscope, and then implanting them where your hair is thinning. A follicular unit extraction, or FUE, is a highly precise method in which each graft needed for the transplant is individually extracted from the scalp to avoid a linear scar. With both FUT and FUE, the grafts are gently placed into the recipient sites, where the natural elasticity of the scalp locks them in place for the healing process.
No matter which procedure you choose, a slight lifestyle adjustment is in order during the weeks after your procedure to ensure proper healing. It’s possible that you’ll notice some swelling, tightness and slight aching on the scalp. This is completely normal and will quickly resolve over a few days. You’ll also be advised to prioritize rest in the days after your procedure. Swimming, drinking alcohol, sun exposure, smoking and high-impact exercise should be avoided for the first week or two after your procedure to make sure the grafts heal without disturbances.
Once the healing process is complete, your post-op life is officially underway. Patients usually begin to notice the benefits of their hair transplant about 2-3 months after the procedure as the grafts start growing; taking about 10-12 months to achieve the full results. No more hiding under hats or feeling doubtful about your appearance. You’ll be able to welcome your fuller head of hair back with open arms. Goodbye, low self-esteem and hello, confidence!