DHI Hair Transplant
What Is A DHI Hair Transplant?
DHI, or Direct Hair Implantation, is one of the newest, most advanced and costliest forms of hair transplant technologies currently available in the UK. Unlike other methods of hair transplant such as strip harvesting, DHI is marketed as being both a pain free and scar free procedure, making it perhaps the most sought after type of treatment for male and female pattern baldness. However, despite these claims, it's important to note that DHI, while minimally invasive, is still a surgical procedure performed under local anaesthetic and that there will be a small degree of discomfort and scarring initially.
How Is The Procedure Performed?
Once a patient has been deemed suitable for DHI, they will attend a consultation (or a number of consultations) to cite requirements, determine the best donor area and discuss expectations. In most cases, the donor area will be the back of the head where hair tends to grow thicker and faster than it does around the temples. During the procedure, the donor and recipient areas will be numbed with a local anaesthetic and follicles from the donor area will be transplanted into the thinning or balding patches. This is done using a DHI transplanter, which is somewhat similar in design to a hole punch. It creates tiny holes in the scalp through which intact follicles are removed. These are then implanted into more tiny holes where hair is required using the same device.
Despite DHI being a well established technique, there are some discrepancies in method based upon individual requirements. Depending upon the size of the area to be covered, and the patient's desired thickness, follicles may be removed either one by one, or in larger patches of up to 0.85 mm. As this is still a very small patch, and blades are not used during the procedure, scarring is minimal. A further difference in how various clinics perform the procedure is based upon completion time. While some clinics claim the procedure takes just 3 hours, others cite a maximum of 7 hours. This will largely depend upon the size of the area, the desired thickness, and whether the doctor transplants individual follicles, or works in patches.
What Are The Advantages Of DHI Over Strip Harvesting?
Strip harvesting is a much older method of hair transplantation, and works by lifting off a skin graft complete with follicles and reattaching it to the recipient area. In addition to the obvious advantages of DHI such as less pain, especially during healing, minimal scarring and quicker recovery times, DHI is also believed to be more effective in the long term as the follicles are not physically handled, which could affect their growth, and there is a much shorter period between removing the follicles and implanting them, which is thought to keep the follicles in more of a natural state. The longer the follicles are not connected to a blood supply, and the more they are handled, the less likely they are to 'take' and to grow in the new region. DHI is therefore considered to be a more natural process.
Will It Work?
As hair is taken from the back of the head, it will continue to behave in the same manner at the front as it did at the back. It's the same hair, simply placed in a different location, so success rates of DHI are considered to be very high, although as the procedure is still a newcomer to the hair transplant world, exact figures are subject to debate. The hairline is thought to look very natural once the follicles begin to grow in, although it should be noted that in patients prone to alopecia, the donor hair may start to thin with age in a similar style to the natural hair.
Most men and women suffering from a degree of hair loss, or thinning hair, are suitable for DHI, although the best way to determine if someone is a suitable candidate is to have a consultation as there are some people who should not be approved for surgery. Those suffering with extreme alopecia, for example, are not physically unable to undergo the procedure as alopecia could cause the donor hair to thin prematurely, thereby reducing its effectiveness. In this case, medications such as Minoxidil & Propecia may provide a more appropriate treatment.
Additionally, those suffering with haemophilia should not undergo DHI because it would be very difficult for the body to heal so many tiny incisions made into the scalp. Patients under 25 years of age may also be excluded as, in some cases, genetic hair loss such as male and female pattern baldness, can strike in the early to mid 20's. This could potentially cause donor hair to fall out, or could cause an unnatural finish. Some clinics recommend waiting until the late 20's when the hair has settled before planning to have DHI.
Are There Any Risks?
The procedure is deemed to be very safe and risks are minimal. So much so, in fact, that the main risks associated with DHI stem from the local anaesthetic used to perform the procedure, and the healing process when the scalp isn't maintained. Local anaesthetic, while generally very safe, can cause side effects such as muscle twitches and dizziness, while postoperative sweating and exposure to the sun can delay healing and encourage swelling. It's best to maintain the scalp as advised, including revisiting the clinic for washes if necessary.
How Much Does DHI Cost?
It is difficult to give an exact cost as prices for the treatment will be determined by the size of the area that a patient requires filling and the thickness of hair they desire. However, as a general rule, patients can expect to pay between £2,600 and £3,000 for a small area, roughly £4,500 for a medium sized area, and from £7,000 upwards for a larger area. In cases where the hair on the back of the head is not suitable for transplantation, body hair can be used as an alternative, although this procedure typically costs around 20 percent more than regular DHI.
How Do I Find a Clinic?
The best way to choose a suitable DHI clinic is to conduct research. Asking at local GP surgeries could be beneficial as they may be able to supply a list of reputable clinics. Patients should always ensure that a clinic is registered with the Healthcare Commission, and that the doctor is a member of the General Medical Council.