African American Hair Transplant – What Patients Should Know

Balding impacts men of all ages and races and they often turn to a hair transplant to restore their hairline and improve their self-confidence. Special care should be taken with hair that is wavy or curly and this true with African American hair transplant patients. Since the hair type of a person can affect the design of the new hairline, it is important to find an experienced and board-certified surgeon who specializes in textured hair that includes hair that is kinky and curly in appearance.

Considerations for African American Hair Transplants

The hair on the scalp of African American patients is often curly and kinky and this type of hair can curl both above and below the skin. Because of this characteristic of the hair, the hair grafts can often take up more space than other types of hair. In general, the donor hair that is located around the grouping of hair on the scalp needs to be wider in order to make sure the curly/coiled hair is able to be removed safely and in one piece.

In addition, curly hair presents additional challenges during the grafting process because there is a chance for transection to occur. Transection is when the surgeon accidentally cuts the hair bulb down at the hair follicle base. If the hair follicles are damaged, they are not able to grow properly which means the hair transplant process will likely not be successful.

African American Hair Transplant Recovery Concerns

The healing ability of the skin needs to be kept in mind. In general, the scar that results after a hair restoration procedure involving curly hair follicles can take a longer amount of time to heal. In addition, this produces an increased chance of the scar becoming raised and thick which is also known as the scar being hypertrophic.

Patients who have darker skin are considered to be more likely to develop keloids which are scars that can ridged or lumpy in their appearance. Patients with a risk of keloid scarring need to discuss this in advance with the surgeon and make sure the doctor is experienced and familiar with the specific needs of textured hair. An experienced surgeon might be able to take specific steps or measures to minimize the amount of scarring.

African American Hair Transplant – How it is Performed

Thanks to advances in Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), African American patients can enjoy results that are natural in appearance. During FUE, the hair transplant surgeon removes the hair follicles on an individual basis from the scalp. Since the hair follicles are not removed in a strip of skin, there is barely any visible scarring.

Unlike Caucasian patients who normally have a more mature hairline, the hairline of African American men is normally straighter and low lying. While the density of their donor hair is normally lower than Caucasian patients, the curly hair on the scalp can actually produce a higher volume that is able to compensate for the lower overall donor reserve that is normally located on the scalp. The surgeon also needs to consider the natural hairline of an African American patient when designing the new hairline.

African American Hair Transplant Risks

There are some common risks that patients need to be aware of when considering whether or not to have a hair transplant. These risks include:

  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • The possibility of additional balding elsewhere on the scalp which can cause the need for a future hair transplant

African American Hair Transplant – Other Options

If a person is unsure about undergoing a hair transplant, there are options to consider when it comes to addressing the issue of balding or thinning hair. Both minoxidil and finasteride have been proven to increase the growth of hair on the scalp but both of these medications require a lifetime commitment. Any gains that are made in combating the loss of hair on the scalp will be lost again if the patient stops using finasteride or minoxidil on a regular basis.

In order to determine the best option for treating African American hair loss, a patient should schedule a consultation appointment with a doctor who has successfully treated African American patients in the past. The doctor will examine the scalp to determine the cause of the hair loss as the reason for the thinning or balding scalp could be genetics, an illness, infection, trauma to the scalp or a psychological condition that needs to be treated before proceeding with hair restoration.

The doctor will also discuss the goals of the patient when it comes to restoring the hairline. The results that the patient has in mind might not be realistic due to a lack pf available donor hair or the desired results might not be achievable while still maintaining a realistic and natural look to the hairline. The doctor and the patient need to be in agreement before making the decision to proceed with hair transplant surgery.