How to Improve Hair Donor Area for Hair Transplants
What Is the Donor Area?
The donor area is important for a hair transplant because this is the site where the hair comes from for the transplant.
In theory, anywhere on the body that has sufficient hair of a certain quality can be harvested for a hair transplant.
This means that any of the following may become donor areas:
- Another area of the scalp
What Makes for a Good Donor Area?
Not every donor area is suitable for transplantation but there are times when a donor site must be considered in the absence of other options.
In general, there are two factors that determine whether a specific donor site is suitable or less suitable – hair density and hair type.
1. Can the Beard Be Used as a Donor Site?
Perhaps the biggest advantage of using the beard as a donor site is that the quality of hair is thick and dense.
In fact, this makes the beard the second most used donor site.
When mixed with hair from other donor sites, the beard hair can give the appearance of more thickness and body too.
One thing to consider is that using the beard as a donor site is often more painful during and after extraction.
This is because the skin in those areas is sensitive. Having said that, beard hair should only be mixed in with a hair transplant in the crown area.
This is because the beard hair is thicker and has a different coarseness to normal head hair. If transplanted to the hairline areas, beard hair can look unnatural.
2. What About Arms, Legs, and Chest?
The chest is a good solution for men who lack hair on their heads or have a thin beard. It must be said that chest hair is typically thinner and less dense than head hair so it is not necessarily the ideal donor site.
The arms and legs may also be considered as donor sites, especially if not enough hair can be harvested from other areas for the transplant. The biggest disadvantage is that the hair in these areas typically grows less predictably than head hair. As such, it will retain this growth unpredictability when transplanted.
3. How About the Scalp?
The first preference is to harvest transplantable hair from the scalp. This largely depends on how much hair there is on the scalp and where the hair loss is. For example, some balding and hair thinning on top can be remedied by using the sides and back of the head as donor sites. Obviously, if the hair loss is much more extensive, then the beard, chest, arms, or legs need to be considered instead.
If the back or sides of the head have thick enough hair, then these are ideal donor sites over other parts of the body. The biggest advantage is that the hair will be the same as the hair already lost in terms of quality, thickness, and growth predictability.
Can You Improve the Donor Site for hair transplant?
Although you can’t increase the hair density of a donor site, there are steps you can take to improve it.
1. Consider using Rogaine
Rogaine is the common name for a drug called minoxidil. It thickens existing hair, and perhaps slows down hair loss.
Rogaine is only licensed for use on the scalp.
It was first used to treat high blood pressure in people but it became apparent that using it topically on thinning areas of the scalp helps to slow down hair loss and promote hair growth.
It’s not exactly known how it works but some suggest that because it opens up blood vessels in the area,
2. Use Better Shampoos
Improving general scalp health can also help to promote optimal hair growth.
Using medicated shampoos to treat dandruff or folliculitis is a good idea. And using good-quality shampoos to promote better hair health means that transplantation is more likely to result in a more natural appearance.
3. Stop Using Chemicals
It should also go without saying that it’s important to stop the use of dyes, bleaches, and other harsh hair chemicals before transplantation. These can damage the hair.
4. Consider using a DHT-blocker such as Finasteride
Provided you consult with your healthcare provider and he/she is happy for you to try it,
Finasteride or Propecia can prevent hair loss and improve your donor hair potential.
Note: Finasteride is only licensed in men.
5. Manage Your Stress
Chronic stress can actually cause hair loss in many people. This is because cortisol, the chemical released by the body during stress, can build up long-term and affect the health of the hair follicles.
Pharmacist with special interest in hair loss and hair transplantation.
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