Q: I would like to have the donor area from an old hair transplant repaired so it does not show the scar when I cut my hair shorter. What are my options?
A: Widened scars can be improved in two ways: they can be re-excised to make the scar finer, or hair can be placed into the scar to make it less visible.
Excising a scar works best when the original incision was closed with poor surgical techniques. In this case, using better closure methods can improve the scar. When the scar is the result of a person being a naturally “poor healer,” a wide scar will be the result – regardless of how the incision was closed.
I often approach the problem by excising a small area first, to see if I can decrease the width of the scar. If so, I would then proceed to excise the rest of the scar. If not, I would obtain hair using follicular unit extraction (FUE) — extracting hair in follicular units directly form the scalp — and place this hair into the scar. The hair placed in the scar can also be obtained from the edges of a partially excised scar.
If a wide scar that is thickened (called a hypertrophic scar) is also excised, it will usually reoccur and may result in an even worse scar. Because of this, thick scars should be flattened with injections of cortisone prior to removing. This will decrease the chance of a recurrence.
Flattening the scar is also important to permit the growth of newly transplanted follicular unit grafts.
For more on this topic, please see the page on Fixing Scars.