Hair flap surgery is an outdated hair restoration method where the surgeon takes a “flap” of hair-bearing tissue from one side of the scalp and inserts it into the anterior region of the scalp. This extremely invasive operation is no longer in favor due to a lengthy recovery process that requires hospitalization along with a long and likely list of possible complications. It has also fallen out of favor due to the overall unnatural apperance it presents if not performed correctly as well as the reduction of options for subsequent surgical procedures to address continued hair loss. Much better hair transplant options exist today.
To perform this operation, a surgeon generally follows these steps:
A surgeon may also choose to completely sever the “flap” tissue for a wider repositioning range, though this method is typically reserved for burn victims or car wreck survivors.
Most would agree that hair flap surgery provides inferior results compared to more modern hair transplant methods, especially considering the long and painful recovery process. More recent hair transplant methods have a quicker recovery time without the accompanying disfigurement.
Since this type of surgery repositions a large segment of scalp tissue, it leaves the patient with a new hair pattern that does not flow normally. Essentially, the newly-created, artificial hairline is now facing the wrong way, and the hair’s natural growth pattern has been disrupted in such a way that hair can actually grow upwards, away from the hairline, as opposed to downwards and forward like normal. This is why it is not uncommon for patients to have trouble styling their hair after this procedure.
In addition, a large bump appears on the part of flap that was not cut, where the tissue was pulled and rotated. There is no remedy for this bump – it is permanent, and part of every hair flap surgery.
The main reason why this type of surgery has been largely discontinued is because of the high amount of potential complications, which include:
Currently there is no legitimate reason for flap surgery to be performed on an elective basis.