procedure of 1,800 grafts to
fill in thinning hair.
Hair loss affects people of all different races and ethnicities, often causing significant insecurity and embarrassment due to the thinning or receding hair. Hair transplant surgery is an effective and permanent method for restoring hair growth and improving patient confidence, but many people of African or Caribbean descent are concerned about getting good results from a transplant procedure. This is understandable, because though hair transplants are performed using similar techniques for all patients, there are certain considerations that must be taken when performing black hair transplant surgeries. At the Foundation for Hair Restoration in Miami and New York, our African American hair transplant surgeons have an excellent grasp of the common concerns and challenges facing African Americans dealing with hair loss, and they can produce excellent results for patients with hair transplant surgery.
Common Hair Challenges and Hair Loss Problems for African-American Patients
Hair Loss and Thinning Hair
Both African American men and women can benefit from traditional hair transplant surgery, with a few special considerations. Traditionally, a strip of hair and tissue is taken from the donor site, leaving a long, thin scar that can often be covered with the patient’s hair to disguise it. However, many African American typical hairstyles reveal this scar, making the aesthetic result less positive. To avoid this scarring, another grafting method known as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is used, which involves the removal of individual follicles from the donor site for transplantation. The tiny incisions made to extract the follicles leave no obvious scarring and do not require any sutures, allowing patients to shave their heads with no scarring visible. The transplantation process otherwise remains the same.
Absent or Thin Eyebrows
The eyebrows are an important facial feature, and overly thin or completely absent eyebrows are a problem for many African American and Caribbean patients. The transplant procedure is very delicate, with hairs taken from the scalp requiring perfect placement into half-millimeter incisions. Hairs must be placed at the right angle for a natural appearance, but the hairs will grow normally following the procedure and need only be trimmed once a month. The average number of grafts needed per eyebrow is 50-375, depending on the existing hair and the desired appearance.
Overly High Hairlines in Women
Hair transplant for African American women is often performed to correct abnormally high hairlines, which can occur due to genetics, alopecia, hair breakage from chemical treatments, or medical conditions. Options for treating this problem include the surgical hairline advancement (SHA), which is a 90-minute procedure that can bring the hairline forward by up to two inches. Women with a less elastic scalp can undergo traditional hair transplant surgery and utilize techniques to prevent any further hair loss after the procedure.
Some patients are concerned about preserving an intricate hairstyle, weave, or relaxed hair during the procedure. An experienced surgeon can work between these styles, though they sometimes will need to be loosened during the procedure. Most African-American patients do not have to cut off locks and braids. It is recommended that relaxers not be used on the hair following surgery, as these harsh chemicals can damage all hair.
Surgeon: Dr. Epstein
Procedure details: Before and eight months after one procedure of 1,600 FUE grafts to restore frontotemporal recessions.
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Note: Donor area with the absence of any scarring.
Procedure details: Before and after 600 FUE grafts to restore density to the frontal region
Patient able to shave his head
Note: Donor area and the ability of the patient to be able to cut his hair quite short without any donor site scar showing through because there is no linear scar.
Are You a Candidate?
Candidates for African American hair loss treatment are men and women in generally good health who are experiencing receding or thinning hair, people with patchy or absent eyebrows or facial hair, and people who are dissatisfied with their current hairline. During your consultation, you will have an assessment for your candidacy, as only an expert can determine individual candidacy for a hair restoration procedure.
Your Hair Transplant Consultation
During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your goals for the procedure. Dr. Epstein will evaluate your hair loss patterns and recommend treatment options that will work best for meeting your goals. Your consultation is the time to get to know Dr. Epstein, ask questions, and express any concerns you have about the process. Many patients consult virtually with Dr. Epstein, as well as in person. Whichever option you choose, the consultation is an important step in your hair restoration journey. If you’re concerned about the possible results, be sure to take a look at Dr. Epstein’s African American hair transplant before and after photos to see the natural restoration results that can be achieved.
The Hair Transplant Procedure
Hair transplant can usually be performed under local anesthesia with oral sedation. Either the traditional method of transplantation (which involves taking a strip of hair from the donor site) or the FUE method is used to extract the follicles, whichever is more appropriate given the circumstances. The separated follicles are transplanted through tiny incisions that leave no visible scarring once healed. Dissolvable sutures are used to close the incision, if present. The procedure typically takes several hours for a full hair transplant.
Loss of Eyebrows in Black Patients
Hair Transplant Recovery
Recovery from hair transplant surgery is minimal, and patients can go back to normal activities as soon as the day after surgery, except for strenuous activity, which should be postponed for at least 5 days. However, there will be visible signs of the procedure for about a week, with tiny crusts appearing at the site of each graft before falling off. The transplanted hairs fall out a few weeks later, but will begin to grow back permanently about four to six months later. Any discomfort can be controlled with prescribed medication.
African & Caribbean Ethnic Hair Transplant FAQs
Can I choose the shape of my hairline prior to surgery?
Hairline shape and height is an important factor in your overall hair transplant satisfaction, and Dr. Epstein will go over this preference with you before the procedure to ensure you are on the same page about your desired hairline. African American Hair transplant photos can help give you an idea of the possible hairlines and can serve as points of reference for your consultation.
Will I need fewer grafts than a Caucasian patient?
That all depends on your degree of hair loss and your desired results. The number of grafts needed for a transplant varies so widely that it’s difficult to make a generalization based on race or ethnicity.
Is scarring likely after hair transplant for African American patients?
A few years ago, scarring following hair transplant was often a problem for male African American patients because the strip of donor hair taken from the scalp would often show through the hair. Now, with the available option of the FUE (follicular unit extraction) method, this can be avoided. Instead of a strip of tissue, follicles are removed individually, resulting in tiny, unnoticeable scars. Dr. Epstein can even improve the appearance of scarring from a prior hair transplant using this method.
Are there any specific risks to African American patients?
Hair transplant surgery is very safe these days, but there are always small surgical risks to consider. Rarely, reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, unfavorable scarring, or death of the hair follicles can occur. Because of the way the hair grows in African American and Caribbean patients, there is also a chance for ingrown hairs or folliculitis, which can be easily treated if they occur. Patients with a history of keloid scarring should discuss this with Dr. Epstein before the surgery. By choosing an expert in the hair transplant field, patients can greatly reduce the risk for complications during and after the procedure.
Is PRP a good option for African American patients?
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma, a method of using the patient’s own blood to help reverse active hair loss or enhance healing and growth from hair transplant surgery. The procedure has been beneficial to patients of all ethnicities, and may be appropriate for black hair loss treatment in some patients. Dr. Epstein evaluates patient candidacy on an individual basis and may suggest PRP therapy if it is appropriate.
Below is a review of the most important hair challenges and hair loss problems in African-Americans and Caribbean patients and information on how Dr. Epstein may be of service in addressing and solving these common occurrences.
Dear Dr. Epstein, clinicians and all staff members of FHRPS
I would like to thank you all for being apart of my hair restoration journey. To begin with, I researched FUT and surgeons who specialize in African American hair restoration for approximately 2 yrs to ensure that I would make the right choice and you all have proven that to be true. From first contact till this very day, Dan (my pt advisor) has been very efficient in responding to my constant questions. On the actual day of my procedure, I felt extremely comfortable and tended to by all of the team. Kyle and another young man came in to greet and prep me (jokingly asking me to put on a “Prada” hospital gown).Linda, administered the local anesthetic so gently I didn’t feel any real pain, during this time, Vivian was kind enough to sit with me to help me remain calm. During the actual implanting of the follicles, I had Jose working on my L temple and Elsita working on my R temple simultaneously and the friendly banter between those two was not only a source of relaxation but comical relief. Throughout the entire procedure, we engaged in conversation which made the 8hr procedure seem shorter and the whole process seem so casual. Dr. Epstein, perhaps the most sincere display of the day was when everything was complete and all 1600 grafts were transplanted, you examined my hairline and was unsatisfied with the placement of 12 grafts. 12 out of 1600 seems so minute, yet you bought me back to the chair and replanted them to your liking. That definitely demonstrates great work ethics. Lastly, I want to acknowledge the gentleman (Carlos, I hope I remembered his name correctly), who not only patiently explained post-op care and medication but also organized a cab service to take me back to the hotel, he was kind enough to stabilize my gait as I walked from the office to the car. The following day I returned to the office to wash my hair. Alicia was pleasant as she thoroughly explained how to wash my recipient site and gently cleansed my hair around the sutures of the donor site.I know my description might sound rather odd, but as far as surgeries go, this experience was actually exciting. I felt very well catered to by the warm and friendly staff.Its only been 10 days since my procedure, my donor site is still tender which makes it difficult to sleep and workout but that’s to be expected. My recipient site (temples and hairline) alternates between numbness, tingling and extremely itchy but i think that’s all part of the healing process so its something i’m learning to deal with. Thank you all so much for your time, patience and energy. I have no doubt that this has been a life changing gift.
An Expert in Hair Transplants of Black Ethnicity
When choosing between African American hair transplant doctors, many patients seek out Dr. Epstein for his expertise in fighting hair loss and his extensive experience in providing effective surgical and non-surgical solutions for African American and Caribbean patients. Dr. Epstein’s patients visit him from all 50 states and over 75 countries for expert hair restoration. If you’d like to learn more about hair restoration in Miami (305-666-1774) or New York (212-759-3484), call our offices today to schedule a virtual or in-person consultation.