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A hair-raising tale.

There are many remedies, potions, and promises for combating baldness, but little in the way of genuinely satisfying results. Even the "miracle" of hair transplantation offers only limited aesthetic appeal, with results often marked by scarring, a cobblestone texture to the scalp, and an artificial look.

Now, however, an innovative microsurgical technique offers men and women the promise of a natural looking head of hair with a minimal amount of discomfort. "Microsurgery enables the surgeon to minimize problems," indicates Carlos Oscar Uebel of the Plastic Surgery Clinic, Porto Alegre, Brazil. His work is based on the use of micro-graft and mini-graft hair transplantation. (The former is a section of one or two hair follicles or bulbs; the latter, a section of three or four bulbs.)

Using local anesthesia, the surgeon removes an elliptical flap of scalp, containing between 600 and 900 mini- and micro-grafts, from the upper neck region of the head. Roots harvested from this area exhibit a superior life span to those found in other portions of the scalp. After suturing the donor site, a microsurgical knife is used to cut the section of excised scalp into strips of approximately one or two millimeters in thickness. Each of these is separated into micro- and mini-grafts. Then, using a jeweler's forceps, the surgeon implants these grafts in tiny incisions made in the bald area of the head. "The entire procedure can be completed in two or three hours. There are no stitches involved in planting the grafts, and, in most cases, patients can return to work the next day," explains Uebel.

Following the operation, a dressing must be worn for 48 hours, after which the head can be washed, using an antiseptic shampoo. During the first two weeks, there is a crust formation that will fall off as it dries.

One of the distinctive aspects of the surgery is that it transplants hair follicles rather than hair. As a result, no actual hair growth may be seen for two or three months. In the event a denser head of hair is desired, "The patient can repeat the process at one-year intervals. This allows the follicles from previous grafts to fully germinate and reduces risk of disturbing those transplanted before."

The micro- and mini-graft procedure can be used with all types of baldness, but is especially appropriate for individuals who experience loss around the temples and incipient hair loss. For those with more extensive baldness, the surgeon and patient should discuss the advantages of more traditional methods of transplantation of entire flaps of scalp. While these can help ensure a more noticeable result in a relatively short time, the use of micro- and mini-graft transplantation can be expected to achieve a better quality long-term outcome.

As with all surgical procedures, there are risks of complications. One of the more common, associated with patients who have oily scalps, is the formation of small oil pustules and cysts, which can be treated readily.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:baldness
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Words:491
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