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We shed hair every day – you’ll probably notice it on the floor of your grooming area, corners of your house, and on top of your shower drain. 80 to 100 strands of hair are lost per day and that’s why it’s pretty normal to see them lying around. It’s only when you lose more than that amount and when they’re not growing back that it becomes a big, hairy, problem. (Yes, pun totally intended.)

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Sufferers from hair loss problems look for ways to get back their crowning glory: hair treatments, hair boosting serum, and even home remedies (such as applying liquor on your scalp?!) but they may not always show quick and noticeable results. If you’re looking for a more effective and permanent solution, chances are you’d have considered hair transplant.

We find out from The Clifford Clinic more about hair transplant surgery in Singapore so you can make a more discerning decision about whether you should go for it.

Hair transplant: What is the process like?

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The Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure is one of the most sought-after methods for hair restoration. During the process, the donor area (usually at the back of your scalp) will first be shaved and hair follicles are removed one by one. These removed follicles are called “grafts”.

Creating slits or holes with a scalpel or needle at the area that hair is transplanted into, the surgery team then delicately “plants” each graft into the holes.

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Local anesthesia is applied to numb the areas of surgery, so while you can expect slight discomfort, the process of extraction and implantation is generally painless.

The process can take anything from four to eight hours to complete, dependent on the number of grafts you’re transplanting.

For the next few days, you’ll be wearing bandages over your scalp. Your scalp area may feel tender and you may need to take pain medications to manage the discomfort. An antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory drug will also be prescribed.

You may be able to return to work two to five days after the surgery.

Who is suitable for hair transplant?

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Hair follicles are usually taken from the back of the head or side of the head – because these areas are less susceptible to hair loss – to be transplanted onto the balding area. For FUE hair transplant, you’ll need to have sufficient “donor area” to be eligible.

How long does it take to see results?

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Within the first one to four months of surgery, you’ll see the grafted hair detached from the implanted roots. But don’t worry – it’s normal because hair follicles go through a cycle of shedding and growing. Stronger hair should come out from your scalp after four to six months, and most people see the most obvious results from the ninth month onwards. There are also reports that you may be able to see improvement up to 18 months.

Are there any risks involved?

As with any kind of surgery, there are certainly risks involved with a hair transplant surgery. These include pain, bleeding, and infection, which can usually be managed with medication. On the aesthetic end, there’s also the risk of scarring and unnatural-looking new hair growth.

Speak to your aesthetic doctor about the risks involved and your expectations of the procedure and results. Your doctor will be able to give you advice accordingly.

How much does hair transplant cost?

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The average price is around SGD5 per graft for 1,500 grafts. Price may be higher for less quantity.

What’s one thing about hair transplant that patients rarely ask about but really should?

When we research about hair transplant in Singapore, there’s often discussion about the cost of each graft.

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However, the real conversation should be around the actual survival rate of grafts implanted. After all, grafts that don’t survive are essentially “wasted” and since there are finite number of hair follicles on a person, you can end up with a patchy look if you don’t have enough surviving grafts to transplant.

This is why when you research and inquire about hair transplant, ask questions about how the medical team and technology used can help ensure the highest survival rate of grafts.

What should patients look out when they decide to go for hair transplant?

As with any aesthetic surgery, it is important to look for a doctor who has actual hands-on experience with the treatment. This ensures that the right diagnosis is given and the treatment parameters can be decided accurately.

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As hair transplantation is a team surgery, the other members in the team are important too. In particular, the hair transplant technicians who are handling the grafts. This is why when you inquire about hair transplant surgery, you should also find out from the clinic whether they work with experienced hair technicians.

The current chief hair transplant technician at The Clifford Clinic, for instance, has been in the line of hair transplantation for more than 10 years and helped over 2,000 satisfied patients. Her experience ensures that she handles the grafts quickly and delicately so that they don’t dry out or crushed, and losing their viability.

Doctor shares his personal experience going through hair transplant surgery

Dr Chow Yuen Ho

Dr. Chow Yuen Ho isn’t just an experienced surgeon for hair transplant in Singapore, but is also a recipient of this treatment. Instead of asking him merely for his input from a medical point-of-view, we asked Dr. Chow to also tell us what his experience of hair transplant was like from a patient’s perspective.

“The particular brand of FUE that I chose to undergo was the ‘No Downtime FUE’, a hair transplant surgery that patients can undergo and be back to work the very next day. I chose this procedure because my clinic schedule is super busy and I can’t afford downtime at all. So far, I have done two ‘No Downtime FUE’ and with both of these procedures, I was able to go back to work the very next day.

It’s a long procedure, taking up the better part of a day. However, it is surprisingly easy to go through, aside from the boredom of sitting there the whole time. I experienced some minor pain during anesthesia phase of the procedure, but once the scalp is completely numb, the rest of the procedure is pretty painless. Recovery was also quite easy – with minimal pain and discomfort.

I went for my first transplant two years ago to cover my left temple. The hair has grown out very well. In fact, the transplanted hairs have grown thicker and faster than the rest of my already-thinning hair. I had a second transplant done about two months ago to bring my hairline down an extra inch. The transplanted hairs are just beginning to grow out, so it is still a bit sparse at the moment. The final result will be seen at the end of one year.

I use myself as ‘experiments’; I do skin treatments on one half of my face to see if they work, so likewise, I did transplants on only the left side of my head so I can compare the before-and-after results. I am already seeing a huge difference between the two sides.

Hair transplant is the single best procedure that I’ve undergone because it’s super gratifying to see my hairline look younger and younger every day.”

The Clifford Clinic has more than 18 years of experience in Aesthetic Medicine, and both doctors – Dr. Chow Yuen Ho and Dr. Gerard Ee – have strong experience in performing hair restoration surgery and other treatments for hair loss.

The Clifford Clinic is located at 50 Raffles Place, #01-01 Singapore Land Tower, Singapore 048623. Whatsapp to 8318 6332 for any query. (Click to send a message now.)