The Saratoga Hair Center at Williams


Patients frequently ask, “What is the hair transplant procedure actually like?” This procedure is something that our patients have contemplated undergoing for a significant amount of time –oftentimes years. It is a large decision that has a significant impact on improving their appearance and self-confidence. We spend a significant amount of time during our patient consultations to discuss our patients’ goals, develop a treatment plan, set expectations, and discuss the procedure itself. We hope that this discussion is able to illustrate what a typical day during hair transplantation is like for our prospective patients and interested readers.

What time will I arrive?

We typically recommend that you arrive 30-45 minutes prior to your scheduled procedure. You will be greeted at the front door by our facility staff. For most patients, we will have you take pain medication by mouth upon arrival to facilitate increased comfort during your procedure. Next, we will have you privately change into a gown – patients are able to keep their shoes, socks, pants, underwear, etc on. We may take photographs in our photo suite prior to your procedure so that we are able to review the improvements from your procedure once you have fully healed.

How do we get started?

After the above steps are completed, we will bring you into the procedure room. At that point, our hair transplant surgeon will review the treatment plan that was designed during your consultation. The treatment plan will again be drawn out on your skin using a marker and using mirrors, we will again confirm that the designed treatment plan is congruent with both the patient’s and surgeon’s goals.

After we have agreed upon the design of the project, we will have you lay supine on our comfortable procedure chair. Pending the patient’s wishes, at this point, we will oftentimes administer a small amount of sedating medication. This is given in the form of an injection in the arm – no IVs are required. This allows patients to be even more comfortable during the procedure. In fact, many patients will actually sleep through a large portion of the procedure. We follow stringent safety protocols and monitor oxygen saturations when giving patients these medications. It certainly does not require any form of breathing assistance or supplemental oxygen – it just makes our patients significantly, and safely, more comfortable.

What happens during the actual procedure?

After we have administered the sedating medication, we will perform what we call a “local block”. Essentially, we inject a small amount of numbing medication near the eyebrows to numb the nerves that give sensation to the majority of the front of the scalp. We first place an ice cube at the site of injection prior to injecting the numbing medication which makes this portion of the procedure essentially pain-free for our patients.

At this point, we will have you turn over on your stomach to either remove “the strip” of hair or perform the follicular unit extraction, depending on which type of harvesting technique has

been mutually agreed upon between our surgeon and the patient. Again, we will inject more numbing medication in the harvest site at the back of your scalp. When performing the strip method (also known as follicular unit transplantation) we will shave a very small amount of your hair in the location of the strip of hair that we plan to remove. Once we have identified and demarcated the location of hair to remove, we will begin removing the strip of hair – this typically takes around 30 to 60 minutes. Since we have injected the numbing medication, patients do not experience any pain during this portion of the procedure. In fact, this is a point in time during which many of our patients fall asleep. If you remain awake, we oftentimes will have conversations about various hobbies, families, sports, etc. Understandably, many of our patients are apprehensive about this portion of the procedure because they expect to experience a degree of discomfort, however, with our multimodal pain control techniques, it is actually quite comfortable for our patients. Once we remove the necessary portion of the skin to obtain an adequate number of grafts, we close the harvest site with sutures. When performing the strip procedure, we have only shaved the hair over the portion of skin that needs to be removed, therefore once we have closed the harvest site you essentially cannot tell that a procedure was performed at the back of the scalp.

If we are performing a follicular unit extraction, the surgeon will need to shave a larger portion of the scalp. The individual hair follicles will be punched out using a tiny, hollow needle. This technique tends to take longer given that the grafts are individually harvested from the scalp. At our facility, the surgeon performs this portion entirely – which can be contrasted to many facilities in which they will have technicians or even robots do this portion of the procedure. This creates a positive impact on our graft survival and overall outcome for our patients.

Once we are done harvesting the follicular units, we will have you return to lying on your back – we often have to wake our patients up at this point. Once you are comfortable on your back, we will place a soft cover over your eyes to block the light in the room. At this point, the local block that we created at the level of your eyebrows has caused the front of the scalp to become completely numb and pain-free. Using very strong magnification glasses, our surgeon will individually create each donor site for transplantation using a very small device. Each location is individually designed by the surgeon – focusing on the location, direction of hair growth, and size of the hair graft. This is a very detailed, time-intensive process. While each individual site is being created by the surgeon, we have two to three technicians that are dissecting each individual hair follicle from the previously harvested skin under a microscope. Most of our technicians have been assisting with this portion of the procedure for over 20 years! They separate each follicular unit into one, two, three, and four hair-containing follicular units which will be important for our implantation portion of the procedure.

Once the surgeon has finished completing the donor sites, we will place a comfortable, temporary dressing over your scalp. At this point, you are able to get up, use the restroom, relax, and eat lunch.

After you have finished eating lunch, we will return you to the procedure chair and proceed with placing the processed grafts in the previously created donor sites. Again, this is a time-

intensive process in which we individually place one, two, three, and four hair-containing follicular units into the individual sites created by the surgeon consistent with our treatment plan.

After the grafts have been placed into the donor sites, we will again place a comfortable dressing over your scalp. Once you are ready, you are free to depart from the facility and we will see you the next day to perform complementary hair cleansing and again discuss your post-operative instructions in detail.

How long does the procedure take?

This depends on the number of grafts needed as well as the technique being performed. Many of our projects range from 1500 – 2200 grafts – if this is the case, you can expect to be at our facility from approximately 7 AM to around the late afternoon, in general. Shorter projects will take less time. Follicular unit extraction (FUE) takes more time than the “strip” technique.

Who will be present at my procedure?

Upon arrival at our office, you will initially be greeted by our front desk staff. In addition, you will meet two to three technicians and our hair transplant surgeon.

We hope that this discussion of a typical day during a hair transplant procedure has provided you with helpful information and is able to relieve some potential anxiety that you may have with receiving a hair transplant. Utilizing pain, sedating, and numbing medications, our patients typically experience a pleasant and pain-free procedure. When our patients are not sleeping through the procedure, we also enjoy conversing to pass the time and make the experience more enjoyable. If you have any questions or are interesting in scheduling a consultation, please give us a call at (518) 581-1872. We look forward to hearing from you!

Please look out for our future blog posts on various topics related to hair restoration!