DHI Hair Transplant method
Whether cosmetic preferences or health concerns, hair loss is a condition that millions of people struggling with, for various reasons or purposes. Fortunately, hair transplantation is a rapidly growing sector where technological and medical innovations are making the improvement of the transplantation process and overall final results much more evident and remarkable, day by day.
One of the recent examples of such advancements is the Direct Hair Transplantation technique, which is regarded as an advanced follicular transplantation method. With the skills of certified surgeons and the latest medical equipment, the DHI procedure guarantees a natural-looking hairline, providing a density as much as possible.
Direct hair transplantation is applied with an implanter known as Choi Pen, which is a very fine medical tool with a diameter of 1mm or less. It is an extremely functional tool, ensuring the perfect direction, angle and depth for surgeons to achieve desired results. As part of the procedure, the hair is removed from the donor area via Choi pen and directly implanted to the recipient site without delay.
Understanding the tool: Choi pen
Initially used in South Korea, the Choi pen developed as an alternative approach to follicular hair transplantation with the intention of speeding up the process. It does not change the fact that follicular units still have to be carefully prepared manually, but the procedure is performed by means of a mechanical implantation device. Once loaded, the Choi pen is able to contain 1 to 4 hair follicles which are inserted into the recipient area when the plunger is pressed. A three-person team comprised of two loaders and one planter can implant up to 12 grafts per minute. Gaining control over the spacing and direction of each implant, more and more surgeons around the world is opting for this instrument as well as the overall technicalities of the operation.
Since it is a tool that provides utmost precision and speed, the Choi pen increases the survival rate of the hair follicles significantly. The more they remain out of the body, the more damage they can take; therefore, the Choi pen becomes one the most suitable options out there, as it allows surgeons to operate with multiple grafts at once, and the small nature of the pen enables several surgeons working at the same time.
Are you a good candidate for DHI?
DHI is commonly preferred by people who have advanced hair loss since they require a higher amount of grafts. Men who have been struggling with male pattern baldness for at least five years are also advised to undergo a DHI operation as it is the most effective restoration method for those who have advance hair loss, and also patients with no reaction to medical treatments benefit from DHI procedures. If your hair loss condition stems from any kind of trauma such as burns or injuries, you can consult a hair loss surgeon in order to learn the intense effects of the DHI procedure and its capabilities on covering scars. However, it is important to note that complete baldness decreases the efficacy of the procedure, and patients who have this type of hair loss are not regarded as optimal candidates for DHI.
Another point worth mentioning is that your medical history is a critical factor in determining your candidacy for DHI operation. For instance, if you are taking certain medications with blood-thinning properties, you will not be able to undergo DHI since it can aggravate the possible side effects such as bleeding.
What is the difference between DHI and FUE?
While FUE reduced the discomfort of the patients during extraction compared to the FUT procedure, both techniques fundamentally adopt the same method of transplantation, with least amount of difference. Follicles are transplanted by creating slits in the implantation area and placing the individual grafts into these slits with forceps. Allowing little control over angle, direction and depth, both FUE and FUT place emphasis on the total number of follicles extracted from the scalp, rather than the follicle survival rate.
On the other hand, DHI grants the surgeon an alternative option to insert each follicle separately and directly to the recipient area, allowing to control the depth, angle and direction of each graft. This provides not only a decrease in trauma for the patient but also results in a more natural appearance.
How is DHI applied?
Initial consultation and medical tests
As is the case with every other hair transplantation process, the first step to take is consulting with your doctor; discussing your compatibility with the procedure, and deciding on an individually-prepared course of action. You should explain everything about your medical history, including your current condition and the medications you take.
After the consultation period, you will be asked for various medical examination, including blood tests, in order to ensure that you are in good health and free of infections as such. Also, you won’t be able to drink or smoke at least two weeks prior to the operation, since these habits can inhibit the desired effects of the procedure to a certain extent, and increase the risks of side effects.
The DHI procedure
Before the operation starts, your surgeon will draw your new hairline on your head based on the pre-determined plans and the goal of your hair transplantation. The next step is the injection of long-lasting local anaesthesia on the donor site. While general anaesthesia is usually not required, you may request a sedative to become more comfortable, since it is a quite time-consuming process.
Once the anaesthesia has taken effect, your doctor will start the extraction process, manually using an extractor device with a diameter of 1 mm or less. As soon as the hair extracted from the donor area, it will be immediately implanted into the recipient site without further ado. Skipping the incision step, your doctor will load the Choi pen with the extracted hair follicles, and directly implant them into your scalp, according to the pre-determined plan of action. The placement of the hair follicles must be done with utmost diligence as it requires a precise direction and angle of 40 to 45 degrees. The surgeon’s skill and experience become prominent at this point. 2 to 6 pens and 15 to 16 needles of various sizes are needed throughout the operation, depending on the structure of the hair.
Following your surgery, you will be informed on what kind of an aftercare routine you should follow on the instructions of your surgeon. You will be given all kinds of necessities required for a post-op period such as shampoos and medications.
While it is understandable to have a desire for quick results as it is a cosmetic condition, it is still important to have realistic expectations. The results of the DHI operation do not appear immediately, visible hair growth is expected to occur at least 5 to 6 months after the procedure. There is another fairly normal part of the operation which stirs up trouble in the eyes of the patient, which is then transplanted hair loss happening throughout the weeks after the operation. You don’t need to panic over this period as your hair will be back gradually, both in the transplanted area as well as the donor site.
Finally, it is important to remember that the final results vary from person to person, and greatly rely on patient’s natural hairline. Likewise, considering your medical history, physical condition and environmental factors, your recovery period will proceed gradually, depending on the individual momentum of your hair.
Benefits and Advantages of Direct Hair Implantation
It is extremely important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of DHI – all kinds of hair transplantation techniques actually – with your doctor as it provides an insight for the decision-making period, and it is highly recommended that the patient should be aware of any possible side effects before undergoing any kind of operation. Having said that the advantages and disadvantages of the DHI procedure include the following:
Since there is no requirement for any incision, DHI provides a complete scar-less look, unlike the other transplantation techniques. For instance, FUT causes an unpleasant linear scar, whereas FUE may bring about tiny round scars where the hairs are extracted. FUE scars end up with more clarity if the extracted hairs are too close to each other. Meanwhile, DHI operation is performed with an approach of aligned distribution, so scarring does not occur.
Guaranteed natural results
Gaining advantage from the Choi pen, direct hair transplantation provides perfect control of angle, direction and depth of the hair follicles being implanted, and provided with complete management, the surgeon gains the means of ensuring the most natural-looking results possible. Additionally, since there are no stitches as part of the procedure, the naturalness of the result is enhanced.
Highest Graft Quality
One of the most prominent benefits of the DHI is that it provides a much more superior level of viability in terms of hair follicles since the time they remain out of the scalp is much shorter than the other techniques. Hence, the possibility of hair damage is decreased significantly. After the extraction of the hair follicle, it can be kept in a solution so that it won’t be spoiled or damaged, or it can be immediately implanted into the recipient area without delay. The efficient nature of the procedure makes DHI an extremely safe technique for the follicles’ health, with a survival rate of more than 90 per cent.
Limited hair damage
DHI not only decreases the amount of damage to the grafts but also reduces the risk of damage to the existing hair. Choi pen allows surgeons to perform with the utmost precision, so you do not have to shave off your hair completely. This is one of the primary reasons for women to opt for direct hair transplantation as they can keep their hair the same as before. Not shaving the hair helps surgeons to get more natural results too, since they can implant the follicles in accordance with the existing hair, resulting in a more natural look.
Short recovery time
Since DHI operation is executed without a need for incisions or stitches, it does not lead to any kind of scarring, which means the amount of time required for recovery is considerably short. Therefore, you can go back to work after a couple of days with minimal postoperative problems. An ideal option for those who have busy lives.
Drawbacks and Disadvantages of DHI
A significant amount of time is needed
Even with a number of surgeons working on a patient, DHI can take a considerably long time, because of the precision it requires. A transplantation session with 3000 grafts could mean an operation of 10 hours which is why patients are advised to divide the sessions over 2-3 days.
Direct hair transplantation is considered to be the most effective and innovative hair restoration method, but it is worth to note that the advantages mentioned above make it the most expensive technique available, considering the technology used during the process.
As with any surgery, to complete the treatment with the most productive results, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on the aftercare procedure. You will be provided with post-op necessities and medications in order to minimize the risks of infections and inflammations. It is also important to know that you won’t be able to smoke or drink for about two weeks after the operation.
For the sake of healthy grafts and steady physical condition, you will need to take various precautions, including:
- Avoid sun exposure, and intense exercising for at least 4 weeks
- Take your medications regularly which are prescribed by your surgeon
- Avoid any chemicals such as hair products or shampoos for at least a month
- Use nothing but only the cleansing products advised by your doctor
- Do not wash your scalp for about a couple of days after the surgery
- Do not expose your scalp to extreme heat or cold
- Get enough rest for a rapid recovery period
- Do not consume chemicals that can interrupt the blood flow, such as alcohol or cigarettes for at least a week
- Do not roughly comb your hair for about a month
- If you notice abnormalities such as a symptom of infection, immediately contact your doctor
In the weeks following the surgery, you may enter a period of ‘shock loss’, and lose your newly implanted hairs to a great extent. No need for panic; this is a common part of the process. New hair growth will begin again in 3 to 4 months after the surgery, and at the 6. month, you will be able to see visible results.
Side Effects of DHI
Side effects and complications resulting from DHI operation are usually minor, and they easily disappear within a few weeks. Even so, if there is any kind of anomaly which causes distress, you should not abstain from contacting your doctor.
Possible side effects of DHI can include:
- Swelling of the scalp or bruising around the eyes
- Temporary hair loss, a completely normal process