The procedure starts with the surgeons assistant shaving at least the donor area of your head and drawing out your new hairline with a marker. You’ll then have a needle filled with anesthetic jabbed into the donor area, which hurts, and then you’ll be placed face-down on something similar to an operating table so the surgeon can remove all your donor follicular units before setting them aside in a petri dish for the second part of the procedure. You don’t feel very much due to the anesthetic, but I was hyper-aware that I was having hair follicles torn out of my scalp and there was quite a bit of bleeding. It’s not pleasant, but then neither is balding.
Once all the follicles have been harvested (this can be between a few hundred and up to 3,000 in a single session) you’re sat up and then they’re jammed into tiny incisions in the transplant area. All in all, the process takes up to eight hours, usually. A bit of pain begins to set in towards the end of it, at least it did for me, then later you’re left feeling sore and swollen and looking like you’ve been attacked by some sort of flesh-eating parasite. You’ll feel incredibly itchy for several days afterwards as you scab and the only relief you’ll have is spraying the transplant area with saline solution several times a day. But this, in my opinion, is a small amount of fuckery to endure compared to awkward pain of going bald.
The success of a hair transplant depends on a number of factors: the ability of your surgeon, the healthiness of the follicles in your donor area and how severely you’ve gone bald. If you’re completely bare, there’s a greater area to cover and you might not have enough donor follicles to do so convincingly. It should also be noted that extracted follicular units are spaced apart to avoid leaving you with unsightly bald patches at the back and side of your head. It might thin your hair out a bit, but the way that human hairs grow makes it completely unnoticeable to the naked eye. You could, in theory, remove all of the follicles from your donor area, but transplants are far more successful in people who’ve only thinned out, or have a receding hairline, rather than those that have gone completely bald. This is why it’s advised that it’s better to get a hair transplant done sooner rather than later, but there’s also the risk of further balding so you might have to go back for multiple sessions over the course of your life.