Hair transplant methods have improved substantially since they first came into common practice in the 1960s, prompting some men to seek hair transplant repairs for unsightly restoration procedures done in the past. Three main procedures can improve the appearance of a bad hair transplant: camouflage of large hair plugs, removing the grafts and replacing them with smaller, more natural-looking follicles, and a complete reversal of the previous hair transplant. All options commonly require surgery to repair scars or holes left on the scalp.
Some men want a hair transplant repair to reduce the look of obvious “plugs” when large sections of hair were implanted near the forehead. In the past, tools used to implant hair were larger than those used currently, meaning the implants left visible spaces between individual plugs. Hair transplant specialists now use smaller tools during hair transplant repair to fill in the gaps and create a more natural look. Donor hair is taken from other areas of the head to fill the spaces.
In the excise method of hair transplant repair, unsightly grafts are removed, and the holes left in the scalp are stitched together to reduce scarring. A hair transplant surgeon separates the large sections of hair that have been removed into smaller units and repositions them close together. This procedure is usually done in several surgeries until all the old grafts have been replaced and scars have healed.
Sometimes a combination of the two procedures is used for hair transplant repair. The surgeon bases the treatment on the location of the old hair transplant, and decides whether camouflage alone can correct the problem. An assessment is also made to determine if there is sufficient hair on other parts of the patient's head that can be used for surgical implantation. Hair transplant repair surgeries commonly involve the front hairline or crown, where unsightly grafts are most visible.
A complete reversal represents another option for hair transplant repair. In this procedure, hair that was implanted is removed and returned to the part of the scalp from which it was taken, if possible. Sometimes a complete reversal is done when previous attempts to correct a bad hair transplant have failed and transplanted hair is so brittle it cannot be reused. Scars and holes left in the graft and donor hair areas are repaired during the surgery.
Unfortunately, hair transplant repair does not work for all men. Old hair transplant methods often damaged the scalp, leaving little hair remaining to repair an unattractive transplant. When the patient continues to lose hair after the initial transplant, the amount of donor hair available is further decreased. The issue is compounded when additional hair is needed to hide visible scarring that cannot be diminished surgically or covered by surrounding hair.