Posted 31/10/2022 in Hair Transplant

What is the donor area in hair transplants?

What is the donor area in hair transplants?

Table of Contents

      Medically reviewed & verified by: Avrupa Hair Transplant Clinic

    Written by: ClinicAdvisor

    What is the donor area in hair transplants?

    hair transplant is an intervention in which hair follicles are transferred from a donor area to a recipient area, where alopecia is more evident. 

    Thus, the donor area in a hair implant is the least affected or has the highest number of follicular units, which is normally in the back of the scalp between the ears. 

    This area, for reasons that are not fully understood, is "immune" to the hormone DHT, which is responsible for baldness.

    Are there alternative donor areas in hair transplants?

    Some people who have a weak donor area might not be suitable to get a hair transplant, so they start seeking alternatives. Some of them wonder if they can use hair from someone else's donor area, or if the body hair can be used.

    A weak donor area

    Is a hair transplant with another person's hair possible?

    The hair transplant can only be performed with the patient's own hair. As with an organ transplant from another person, when receiving hair with a genetic code different from ours, the immune system identifies it as a foreign body. 

    To receive hair from another person, therefore, it would be necessary to take immunosuppressive medication for life.

    Can body hair be transplanted to the scalp?

    What happens then with the hair that grows in other parts of the body? If I have very hairy arms, legs, or chest, can I use body hair in the hair transplant? In the vast majority of cases, it is not recommended. 

    Body hair is very different from head hair in life cycle, texture, thickness, and even color. The results would not be optimal or natural. However, beard hair can often be used as a donor to complement the transplant for people with a poor donor area. 

    What is a ‘good’ donor area for a hair transplant?

    A good donor area is one located on the nape or sides of the head that has a high density of follicles per cm2, with several hairs, 3 or 4 for each follicular root, thick hair, and a dark color.

    A very good and thick donor area

    However, this rule is not always followed, although that does not mean that the hair implant cannot be performed or that the donor area is of poor quality. 

    If the hair is fine, but with good density, which maintains a sufficient number of hairs per follicle, it is also considered a good donor area.

    What is a poor donor area?

    A poor area is considered one in which, due to previous surgeries or aggressive alopecia, it is impossible to perform a hair transplant due to a lack of sufficient follicular units to cover the area to be repopulated. 

    In these cases, it is determined that this patient is not a suitable candidate to undergo a hair transplant.

    People with poor donor area are those patients with previous surgeries (75% extraction of follicles from the donor area), patients with aggressive alopecia with extensive miniaturization of baldness greater than 30% extended to the donor area, those who suffer from alopecia scarred or have very thin hair.

    Does hair regrow in the donor area?

    This is a question that is very important to answer since in this way we will understand the important value of making a correct diagnosis.

    The truth is that the donor's hair does not grow back after a hair transplant. Only follicles that were not extracted, will grow back. The ones which were harvested will only grow in the recipient area. 

    At the moment it is not possible to clone follicular units, so interventions are taken into account knowing that the patient's donor area is limited.

    This means that if you harvest too much from this area, it will be very scarce. It must be done in such a way that we do not notice a notable lack of density in the donor area but the recipient area is repopulated.

    When will the donor area recover after a hair transplant?

    Having clarified that the harvested hair does not grow back in the donor area after the hair transplant, we are going to see in a little more detail how the process evolves.

    2 days after hair transplant

    As a result of the anesthesia and punctures, the area of the neck is left with a feeling of "numbness" after the intervention. 

    After two days, sensitivity is restored. As a negative counterpoint, with it, a certain itching may also appear. It is very important not to scratch to relieve itching but to apply saline or a mild topical pain reliever.

    4 or 5 days later

    Small scabs or flakes of skin begin to appear, the result of the healing of the incisions made. They should be allowed to fall naturally, without scratching or tearing them, to avoid visible scars. 

    It is recommended to thoroughly wash the area with warm water and neutral shampoo. During this phase, it is still normal to feel certain discomforts, such as itching or a feeling of tightness, which can usually be tolerated without the need for painkillers.

    1 week later

    The swelling and the scabs will be more and more imperceptible. Little by little the area will be fully recovered, allowing the hair to grow back.

    The donor area after 1 week2 weeks later

    After two weeks, all the discomfort will have disappeared and all that remains is to wait for the hair to grow naturally, thus hiding any trace of the intervention.

    Donor area after two weeks

    Donor area after a month

    After a month of hair transplantation, the old hair (not extracted) returns to its normal growth in the donor area.

    Donor area after 1 month

    After two months, the donor area will continue to grow very naturally until the hair returns and increases in length as it was.

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