Is Hairline Reconstruction and Hairline Transplant the Same Thing?
Whether we like it or not, the area where a person’s face meets their hair is the part of the face and hair that is most noticeable to us when we meet someone new in public, or when we look at ourselves in the mirror. After all, our hair has always been referred to as our ‘crowning glory’ – the Latin root of ‘glory’ meaning praise or honour, and the ‘crown’ referring to the hairs on our head. Many of us consider hairstyles to be our ‘signature look’ (think Ariana Grande and her slicked-back high ponytail!), or just a source of confidence in our daily lives. For those beginning to experience hair loss issues, a receding hairline is usually one of the first things that gets our attention – and our worry!
Looking for options to modify our hairlines, for whatever reason it may be, brings up plenty of search results and treatment options. It is quite common to come across the terms ‘hairline reconstruction’ and ‘hairline transplant’. Those terms are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, is hairline reconstruction and hairline transplant the same thing?
‘Hairline Reconstruction’ actually refers to two possible techniques that can help to shape a person’s hairline:
Scroll to learn more about Hair Line Reconstruction
1. Hairline Advancement
Hairline advancement, or hairline lowering, is a procedure to lower the height of the hairline. An ideal hairline starts somewhere between 5cm to 6.5 centimetres above the eyebrows. When the distance from the eyebrow to where the hairline begins starts to widen, it can give a person an aged look, or can cause the face to appear disproportionate. During the procedure, what happens is that an incision will be created along your natural hairline, and a portion of your forehead tissue is removed. This helps to ‘advance’ your scalp and lower your hairline in the process. Some factors will affect whether hairline advancement is a suitable procedure or not: Hair thickness and density at the hairline, scalp laxity, natural direction of your hair, and even previous surgery. If your hairline does not have enough volume or density to be advanced forward, or if the skin on your scalp does not allow for any further ‘stretching’, this procedure would not be suitable. Some people may also be concerned about scarring that may occur due to the incision performed at the hairline.
2. Hairline Transplant
Hairline transplant techniques can be either through Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT) or Follicular Unit Excision Extraction (FUE/FUEE). These two procedures involve removing skin tissue where healthy hair follicles reside from areas of the scalp where there is genetically less chances for balding to occur, called ‘donor sites’. These hair follicles are then analysed, separated, and grafted into the hairline regions where more hair density is desired, over the ‘recipient sites’. Hairline transplants also do result in scarring, but modern minimally-invasive techniques using a punch machine for graft harvesting usually results in much smaller and less noticeable scars.
Hence, hairline reconstruction is an umbrella term for a procedure that helps to modify a person’s hairline, of which hairline transplants belong to as one of the procedures.
Some reasons why a person may want to look at options for hairline reconstruction are to address baldness, or to obtain a more feminine and youthful look in females who have a high forehead. However, what actually contributes to hair loss in the first place? After all, if hair loss didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be looking at options for extending our hairlines! Unfortunately, hair loss comes in many different forms and for many different reasons, and they can differ between males and females as well.
Our hair growth cycle has three main phases. The anagen, or growth phase, lasts 2-6 years and is the period where our hair roots produce the most growth. The catagen phase is the transition to the shedding or telogen phase, which typically lasts for 5-6 weeks. This is the period where hair tends to drop at a rate of about 50-100 strands a day. Reasons for hair loss may involve 2 things: firstly, the shifting of more hairs into the shedding phase, or secondly, damage to the hair follicles or hair roots itself causing hair to not grow back.
A few common reasons resulting in an individual seeking a hairline reconstruction are:
This is also called ‘male pattern hair loss’ or ‘female pattern hair loss’, and is explained further down below in the next sections. In short, hormonal changes are one of the main characteristics of this condition, affecting the hair follicle itself and resulting in fine, thin hairs or complete hair loss.
‘Traction’ means the action of drawing or pulling something over a surface, and ‘Alopecia’ refers to the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows. In the case of hair loss, wearing tight ponytails constantly can create that tight, backwards traction of your hairline, which over time can cause damage to hair follicles and increased shedding.
Injuries to the skin on the scalp (such as burns, cuts, or falls causing scarring) can permanently damage the hair follicles and result in areas of no hair growth. When this happens, the normal conservative treatments for hair growth such as topical minoxidil application or scalp serums will not be possible. Options like scalp micropigmentation (for small areas), or hairline reconstruction (for bigger areas) will be required.
Naturally occurring high foreheads
Some individuals are born with naturally high foreheads. If desired, they can elect to have their hairline adjusted for a better frame of face which can give them a more youthful and feminine appearance.
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) tends to be a bit more complex than male pattern hair loss, since it has been shown that females who have normal hormonal levels may still have FPHL. Even the pattern of hair loss looks rather different compared to males. This means that FPHL usually has several factors at play that contribute to hair loss, which include:
- Genetic predisposition – If you have family members experiencing FPHL, there is a higher chance for you to experience it too.
- Hormones – Although hormones may not play the same role in FPHL as in males, a scalp examination will show the same ‘miniaturisation’ process especially around the temples and occipital hairs. This can be from hormonal changes after pregnancy, during menopause, or when taking certain medications.
- Diet & Nutrition – Not ingesting enough calories to meet your daily requirements, crash diets, nutrient deficiency (Vitamin D, fatty acids, zinc etc) result in poor health and brittle hair that tend to fall off easily.
- Stress – Increased cortisol levels tends to push hair in the growth stage towards the shedding phase.
- Medications – Certain contraceptive pills or medications to treat other medical conditions like thyroid or diabetic illnesses can also cause FPHL.
Signs and symptoms of premature baldness in females are:
- Thinning appears more obvious through the centre hair part, increasing scalp visibility
- In 11% of Asian women who suffer from FPHL, there is some hairline recession present, especially around both temples
- More hair accumulation in the shower drains or when running fingers through hair
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) or Follicular Unit Excision and Extraction (FUEE), is a technique used to transplant hair from the ‘donor sites’ to the hairline, which will be the ‘recipient site’. The technique is similar to what will be done in male hair transplant surgery.
Hairline reconstruction starts similarly to all other potential treatment procedures – an initial consultation. A thorough consultation with our hair loss professionals will help to assess your facial features and which hairline is suitable for you. The number of grafts that will be needed will also be determined. The more hair grafts needed, the longer the reconstruction may be and vice versa.
FUE excises follicular units by using a harvesting punch machine that does not damage the hair follicles. The main stages of FUE or FUEE are:
- Local anaesthesia is injected into the scalp over donor sites. The donor area’s follicular units are excised, based on the consultation to determine how many grafts are needed.
- Individual hairs are removed from the grafts with the follicle intact — these are called follicular units. They are assessed under a microscope and prepared for transplantation.
- Tiny holes are created into the hairline where the hairline reconstruction is going to take place.
- The follicular units are implanted into the target areas of the hairline. The micro-hairline is painstakingly designed to give maximal naturalness
Candidates who are suitable for hairline reconstruction are:
- Someone born with a high forehead that desires a more aesthetic frame of face
- Males experiencing male pattern hair loss that has affected their hairline, and would like to restore their hairline pattern
- Those who have tried other avenues of hair growth around the hairline (e.g. topical hair growth applications) and have met with failure
- Those who have had a previous hair transplant done poorly and need a revision surgery to the hairline
- Those who have experienced traumatic injuries to the scalp resulting in a permanent disruption to the hairline where hair follicles are damaged
As with all surgical procedures, there are some risks involved in hairline reconstruction. Firstly, this is a procedure that requires the removal of skin tissue to be implanted in another skin area. The risks involved in this are:
- Bleeding from surgery, especially if you are on certain medications/supplements that increase the risk of blood thinning/poor blood clotting
- Forehead and facial swelling during the first 3-5 days of recovery
- Prolonged numbness over the donor area and recipient area
There are also some risks involved in the healing process. If the healing process, which can take up to 1-2 weeks, does not go optimally, it can result in:
- Poor graft survival (meaning the graft does not take properly to the implanted areas)
Additionally, if hairline restoration is chosen to treat male or female pattern baldness, there is also the risk of genetics causing further progressive hair loss. Hairline reconstruction does not stop this from happening. Hence,
- There is the risk of having to repeat a hair transplant some years later behind the transplanted hairline, if the hairline recedes further. Medical treatment will be required to prevent this and should be provided as soon as is feasible.
All in all, hairline reconstruction can be a great option for those looking to have the appearance of a thicker and fuller hairline which is worth the time and money. This is especially for those who have larger areas of hair loss that have become hard to cover up. Contact us today, as our hair loss professionals at Terra Medical are always ready to get you started on your journey to a more confident you!
At Terra Medical
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