The clinic will inform you of their procedures and rules and what you may or may not do before your procedure. Naturally, a patient should always follow the recommendations of their own doctor in preparation for the surgery.
The doctor will inform you if it is permitted to eat or drink anything before the surgery. A common practice is you should stop taking aspirin or any blood-thinning medication at least 10 days before. In my particular case I was advised to stay away from alcohol for one week prior to the operation. If you take any other medication, then talk to the doctor about them. He will give you very specific instructions about which medications you can take prior to surgery; in particular what should happen on the actual day.
If you’re a diabetic, your doctor will give you proper instruction about your use of insulin and your dietary habits. You’ll need to wear clothing that’s comfortable and can be removed easily. That would normally mean a shirt that can be unbuttoned so that you will not need to pass your head through some tight fitting collar as in a T-shirt.’ You can ask the doctor about using any antibacterial soap before the surgery to wash your hair and scalp. This helps to reduce the number of bacteria in the follicles.
You will also need to review the paperwork that was completed before the surgery. You can then use this opportunity for any last minute questions. If you do have questions or anything is not clear, then please ask your doctor. You have to sign an informed consent form on the actual day of your procedure. This form details what the doctor will do during surgery and tells you the risks involved. You will have reviewed this document with the doctor before the surgery and will have the opportunity to ask further questions. Also, remember what you’re paying for and if you haven’t discussed what will happen in the case of an excess or shortage of harvested grafts then ensure you are clear about what will happen.
When the legal papers are signed, the doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax. Local anaesthesia is used to perform hair transplant surgery and the amount of sedation required depends on your physiological make-up and the doctors decision; this is normal.
As only a local anaesthetic is normally required, you’ll be sedated but awake through the procedure. It is normal practice for the surgical team to take pictures as this gives you all a starting point to work on.
Your doctor will have asked for your input about where your new hairline will be. You must understand that the process of placing a hairline is difficult and proper communication between the patient and surgeon is required to facilitate the best result. This is the last opportunity for you to provide input about the hairline and distribution of your hair
Most of the time, the transplant procedure takes place in a surgical chair similar to that you have seen in a dentist’s office. The doctor will tell you to sit up or lie flat as needed. As you’ll be awake through the procedure, you can watch a movie, listen to music or as some do, sleep. It takes between four and seven hours to complete the surgery (yes, I said four to seven hours): all depending on the number of grafts required and the size of the surgical team. Believe it or not but this is normally very comforting and relaxing for most patients as they see themselves taken care of by a number of capable, professional people.
As the process can be lengthy, it may also include food and yes, you can eat in the middle of your surgery! This surprises a lot of people.