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What is a Hair Graft and How is it Created?

We will always come across the term “hair graft” when we are researching regarding a hair transplantation procedure.  It is misunderstood and confused with a follicle some of the times. Having the right kind of information with us when we are choosing a hair transplantation clinic is absolutely necessary. We lose so many hair daily. We almost lose 50 to 100 hair per day. It is normal for us to lose these hair. Are these grafts that are falling off? When we pluck a hair from our scalp, we see a bulb attached to it at it’s end. Does this mean that it is a graft?

What is a graft actually? How does it form? What comprises a graft? There are so many questions that we need answers to. And since a graft is the most important factor during a hair transplantation procedure, we must strive to understand what a graft actually is.

  1. What is a follicle?

A single hair strand that grows out of the root is called a follicle. There can be multiple follicles that are clubbed together in their natural state on the scalp.

  1. What is a graft?

A graft is a follicular unit. In simple language, it means that a graft is a group of follicles. A graft comprises of 1 to 6 follicles normally. In rare cases, there can be even more follicles in a graft. Usually, a single and double follicle grafts are found in abundance.

  1. How many things comprise a graft?

A graft comprises of multiple things. It has the hair follicle or follicles. It contains the mother tissue. There is also the roots. The fat tissue surrounds the graft. The graft also contains the epidermal layer of the hair follicles.

During a hair transplantation procedure,  entire grafts are extracted from the scalp. This is done with the use of punches and forceps. Punches are instruments that are specifically made to separate the grafts from the rest of the scalp. The forceps are used to collect the grafts from the area that has been punched. The grafts are only handled by the epidermal layer. The mother tissue or the roots are not touched at all.

When extracting the grafts from the occipital region of the scalp, single follicle to multiple follicle grafts can be harvested. The placement of these grafts depend on the requirement. Single follicle grafts that are usually taken from the nape of the neck are used at the front of the hairline. Multiple follicle grafts are used on the mid scalp and crown for density and volume.

Different grafts have different characteristics. Since different grafts are taken from different parts of the occipital region, the characteristics of the grafts may vary widely.

Grafts from the nape of the neck are usually with single follicles. These grafts are thinner in hair caliber, lighter in colour, have a slow growth rate, may achieve a lesser length throughout their hair cycle, etc. Such grafts are perfect for the creation of the hairline. It creates a soft and natural look. As rhe hairline progresses backwards, grafts with thicker and coarser follicles are used to achieve density and volume. Grafts with three follicles or more are used on the mid scalp and behind the forelock for density and to give the hair more volume. When there is a lack of grafts with a single follicle, multiple follicle grafts are divided into single follicle grafts. Even for the temple points, grafts with single follicles that are usually from the nape of the neck are used to give a soft and natural result.

A graft can have different follicles that are in the different stages of the hair fall cycle. Now let’s understand the hair fall cycle.

The hair fall cycle that we go through consists of 3 stages. Each stage lasts for a specific period of time. Each stage marks the entry of a hair follicle into a different stage of growth during its lifespan. The different stages are:

  1. The Anagen phase: This phase is the period of time when new hair follicles start to emerge from the roots. This stage is the longest stage in the hair fall cycle. It lasts for upto 3 to 5 years. During this period of time, the hair follicle that has emerged from the roots will continue to grow throughout it’s lifespan. Hence this phase is also known as the growth phase. The hair follicle will reach their maximum length during this stage and complete their lifespan. Almost 90% of our hair are always in this phase. A graft can have some follicles that are in this stage. Some of the follicles might just be emerging from the roots, some might be growing and some might have reached their full length.
  2. Catagen phase: This phase is also known as the transition phase. During this period of time that usually lasts for an average of 10 days, the hair follicle stops growing and could even detach from the base. However, it remains stagnant and keeps staying on the scalp. A graft could also contain one or multiple hair follicles in this stage.
  3. Telogen phase: This is the phase of the hair cycle when a hair follicle starts to shed from the scalp. Brushing, combing, washing, hair styling, etc. could trigger the loss of the hair follicles that have completed their lifespan. Hence, this is also known as the shedding phase. During this phase, new hair might also start forming inside the roots and then grow during the Anagen phase. Grafts can contain such follicles too.

When searching for men’s hair transplant or female hair transplant, we must make sure we go to places that are transparent and give us the complete and correct information. The different doctors that we consult must also be well versed on how to handle different kinds of grafts and where to get them from. The correct placement of the grafts, the choice of the correct kinds of grafts for different parts of the scalp, the dissection of multiple follicle grafts into single follicle grafts and so much more should come naturally to the doctors. A successful transplantation demands for proper expertise. For Readers!

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