Hey, ladies, I've heard your weave image concerns on my "Grow, Baby, Grow" posts, so don't worry, there isn't a weave in sight for this week's feature! We don't hear much about African-American women and hair transplantation, even though so many of us would like to know more about this option of reversing thin hairlines or bald patches. The truth is, although some of the current hair restoration technologies are phenomenal, they were not developed with a person of color in mind, or more specifically suited for curly/kinky hair textures. It takes an expert with a certain sensitivity and skill-set to figure out and tailor these procedures for us.
Dr. Monte O. Harris, a plastic surgeon in Washington, D.C., whose work is recognized around the world for his culturally sensitive approach to rhinoplasty and hair restoration, has spent the last eight years researching how to make hair restoration more doable for Black women. Our point of difference is the way our hair grows. The path beneath the scalp, between the root and the point on the scalp where the hair emerges is curved. When a surgeon transplants hair from one area of the head to another, he/she must get that root, otherwise the transplanted hair can't grow in its new spot. These curvatures can make this process challenging. Dr. Harris has developed special methods that work around this issue. He performs both the traditional strip and FUE/NeoGraft methods of hair restoration.
In addition to surgical options, there are effective non-surgical laser and topical treatments. Here, Dr. Harris, myself (left) and stylist Shelly Marshall of the Carter-Barnes salon in Atlanta take a look at some of his hair restoration patients before and after results. Dr. Harris believes in a comprehensive approach to hair restoration. The surgeon, patient and the patient's stylist have to be on the same page about how to keep the hair and scalp as healthy as possible. It would be a waste of time, money and energy to go through either a surgical or laser series of hair restoration, get your hair back, then return to practices that weaken and ultimately destroyed your hair follicles in the first place (See previous "Grow, Baby, Grow" posts for healthy hair care tips).
Dr. Harris restored this patient's hair with the strip method of hair transplantation which involves surgically removing a strip of skin from the back of the scalp, dissecting the hairs and then transplanting them to the needed area. An incision is made in the back of the head to get the strip of skin. A scar is left behind where the hair was originally removed, so this method is best for those who wear their hair longer in the back. That way the scar can be covered. Here, the 'after' transplanted hair hasn't grown out as long as the hair around it, but is on its way.
This is another successful strip transplant. Dr. Harris also specializes in non-surgical, non-invasive FUE/NeoGraft method of hair restoration. In this case a small pen-size suction device is used to remove individual hairs from the back of the head before transplanting them to the bald areas. You can achieve more natural-appearing results with this method and there is less downtime, less bleeding than with the strip method. The reason hair is taken from the back of the head is because that area is genetically programmed (in both men and women) to always grow hair.
Here a patient has achieved a marked improvement via a combination of laser and topical treatments. These results were achieved with weekly laser treatments, over the course of three months. The cost is about $100 a treatment. In addition, Dr. Harris prescribed the patient his cream-based formulation of Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine). He has developed a cream-based formula, because the daily use of the wet, water-based Rogaine compromises a lot of African-American hair styles. This laser/topical mix is another one of his winning combinations. The laser stimulates hair growth, the Minoxidil lessens hair loss.
REVAGE 670 LASER
This is the Revage 670 laser which stimulates the follicles in the scalp helping to increase essential energy production and reduce the effects of poorly functioning cells, thus promoting thickness and density. There is no pain, and each treatment takes about 30 minutes. You can also receive such treatments as a preventative measure. You don't have to have serious hair loss to use and benefit from this laser.
Dr. Harris performs all of his procedures at his center for Aesthetic Modernism in D.C. He plans to expand his center as a training place for using hair restoration technologies on women of color. For more information on hair restoration specific to African-American women, visit his site, aestheticmodernism.com, or call 301-951-9292.
New patients can mention ESSENCE/Grow, Baby, Grow when scheduling an appointment with Dr. Harris and receive a free consultation and $100 off any procedure at Aesthetic Modernism.