What is the hair length needed to cover an average donor harvest scar on the back of the head? I currently keep my hair short on the sides (less than 1/2 inch) Also, where on the back of the head is hair strip collected from? Parallel to the ears? How long is the resulting scar in inches?
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Dear “Worried about Scar Camouflage,”
Thank you for taking the time to write! An average donor harvest scar should be done with a trichophytic edge these days, so hair should be growing through it rendering it nearly invisible. However, even without completing that extra step (which I consider essential but not all surgeons do) an average scar should be no wider than 1-2 mm. Based on an extensive survey of my patients, a scar like this would be visible if the hair were clipped at a #2 and invisible if clipped at a #3 length. Of course, variables like skin and hair color can impact this, but as a general rule this is what I advise my patients.
Now, as to where at the back of the head the donor area is located, the answer varies by patient, but you can get a general idea pretty easily with the following brief exercise; cup your hand at the back of your head. The area your hand is covering should be above the two bony bumps where your neck starts, but below the ledge where your crown ends and the length should be behind the ears on both sides. This is the donor area for many patients and since the lines of tension run like a string tied back behind both ears, that is how the tissue is removed for best cosmetic result. Larger sessions result in a longer scar and an average to expect would be 20 cm or about 7-8 inches – which is roughly the length of your hand from palm bottom to fingertip!
For those patients who want to preserve their ability to shave the head with a razor – I mean really SHAVE that area like boot camp – these expectations are especially important to hit home. If a linear scar is unacceptable, then an FUE surgery (Follicular Unit Extraction where the grafts are removed one at a time) would be the best option. These surgeries take longer, are more labor intensive/expensive (so not all docs do them), and require multiple sessions, but the results are natural, recovery is much faster, and the scar is, as I mentioned, typically undetectable.
I hope that helps! Good luck!
Dr. Sara Wasserbauer