A mega session is a word that gets thrown around quite a lot in the world of hair restoration surgery. You’ll hear a lot of “mega session hair transplant surgery” or “FUT/FUE mega sessions.” Some hair transplant clinics characterize a session as “mega” by the number of hair grafts and others by the number of days it takes.
However, it almost always has to do with extensive hair loss. And if you’re someone who’s losing hair on the top, crown/vertex, and hairline, you may need a large number of hair grafts. Does that make you a suitable candidate for a mega session? And is it really better than a traditional follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplantation?
The thing is that hair restoration techniques have gotten so advanced that the concept of a mega session has to become obsolete at one point or another. It is something that can be associated with follicular unit transplant (FUT). But to perform FUE mega sessions, you don’t really need more than a day. It is possible to extract a very large number of grafts in a relatively short time. So, why is there so much hype about mega-sessions? Let’s find out.
What Is A Mega Session Of A Hair Transplant?
In 1995, in a study published in Dermatologic Surgery, researchers Rassman and Carson called a hair transplantation session “mega” if more than 1,000 follicular units were to be transplanted in a single session. Of course, since then, the idea of a mega session has changed. Now, mega sessions are performed over 2-days time.
An addition to this idea should be that this term was mostly used for FUT hair transplants. This was also at a time when the surgeons couldn’t extract that many hair follicles from the strip of skin in just one day. So, they had mega sessions, which lasted for 2 days. This would allow the surgeons to extract more hair follicles and help the patient in achieving their hair restoration goals.
However, this simply isn’t the case when the surgical technique is FUE. Surgeons can extract double the number of grafts in less amount of time. So, a mega session FUE transplant is simply reduced to the idea that the surgeon will transplant a large number of grafts in one day. The term “mega session” has stuck because it just may have a positive connotation in the minds of people seeking hair transplants. So, hair transplant clinics use it to describe even the normal sessions as “mega,” making it seem as if these would promise “better results” to patients.
Bear in mind this isn’t always the case, though. Some clinics actually try to deliver on the word “mega” by extracting a dangerously large number of grafts. It can cause permanent damage to the donor area and the final results of the surgery. Moreover, these “mega sessions” are not safe for patients.
What Does The Mega Session For A Hair Transplant Include?
Usually, you’ll find “2-day” mega-session hair transplant treatments. On the first day, the surgeon will extract about 4,000 grafts from one side of the head and transplant them. And, of course, on the second day, the surgeon will repeat the process on the other side of the scalp. So, in total, around 8,000 grafts are extracted and transplanted.
First, clinics will sell you on the idea by advertising mega sessions as the kind of surgery you truly need for your extensive hair loss. One way they do this is by claiming they can pack densely packed hair follicles into the recipient areas through mega sessions. That’s because they’re harvesting the maximum number of grafts the patient needs for natural coverage. They’ll say you’ll end up with more follicular units per square centimetre with this.
However, keep in mind “dense-packing” isn’t always a good idea (which we’ll get to in a while) and not always feasible. How many grafts the surgeon can extract depends on the strength of your donor area. Most patients who have large balding areas have weak donor areas, which would make “dense-packing” impossible unless the surgeon overharvests and permanently damages the donor area.
Clinics also claim that this kind of surgery needs a large crew. And if clinics don’t offer it, they probably don’t have enough surgeons or surgical assistants/technicians to do the job. Again, this isn’t a valid argument. Because if you’re getting FUE, the entire team will include surgical assistants and specialists to perform the surgery. Moreover, it makes use of motorized tools so that a large team is not needed. A patient’s aesthetic goals can be achieved in a single surgery.
Are Mega Sessions Safe?
There are more than a few reasons why such hair transplants aren’t. Let’s get into them.
Damage To The Donor & Recipient Areas
Normally, if the patients need several sessions of hair transplant surgeries, they need to wait for at least 6-8 months for the second session. This is to allow the donor area to heal after the FUE method. That’s because the surgeon has to make circular incisions to extract the hair follicles.
Extracting 8,000 grafts would mean that a lot of small puncture wounds are made closer together, which will increase bleeding and delay healing. It can also result in skin trauma, infection and even scalp necrosis. An FUE mega session like this can permanently damage the back and sides of the scalp. You may not be able to get another surgery in the future. If a person needs that many grafts, it’s better for them to have 3,000-4,000 in one session, wait for 6 months and then get the remaining grafts.
Now, onto the recipient area. On the second day of surgery, the patient must lie on the same side as yesterday. Not only can it cause discomfort and pain, but it can also dislodge the grafts, affecting the survival rate, causing bleeding and even infections.
Poor Blood Circulation
As the surgeon will make a large number of very small incisions in the recipient area, it will affect the blood circulation in the area. It can decrease the survival rate of grafts and cause scalp necrosis. Thus, it’s better to have fewer surgeries spaced apart than just one surgery if you need a very large number of grafts.
If you’re going to lay down for surgery for long periods for 2 days, it is going to affect your blood circulation. You may feel dizzy once you do try to get back up. Not just that, but you may be at risk of developing blood clots, which can be very dangerous in some cases.
Having surgery that lasts for two days can be more than just tiring. Your body is trying to heal because of the incisions, extractions, and implantations, so it’s using more energy than usual. Add to that the stress of the surgery, and you may end up feeling drained. Also, you might end up feeling quite sore and tender from the surgery on the first day. On the second day, things will only hurt more.
You Can Only Get So Much Adrenaline
For such an FUE procedure, the surgeon will have to give you more anaesthesia, which means more adrenaline. It basically decreases the risk of bleeding. Soon after you get adrenaline, you’ll feel the rush. Noticeably you’ll feel your heart beating faster.
But there’s a limit to the amount of adrenaline that a patient can get (you’ll end up getting more because the surgery lasts for days!). That’s because it can cause cardiac issues and can be very dangerous. If you’re a heart patient, you need to be even more careful.
Long surgeries can also lead to muscle loss or muscle atrophy. This can start occurring 1 day after the surgery. Since the surgery will last for 2 days, in this case, you’re at an even greater risk of this problem. If you have any muscle disorders, make sure to talk to your doctor.
Mega sessions of FUE or FUT hair transplant are not superior to traditional FUE or DHI techniques. In fact, these may end up being quite bad for the patient’s health and hair transplant results. You may be enticed by these mega sessions if you’re looking to save time.
Not many find it convenient to get another surgery just 6 months after the first one. However, it may come at the cost of your health. It’s not good practice and not recommended. With an FUE technique, you can get the surgery in one day anyway if you don’t need a very large number of grafts.
If a clinic says their surgeons have affiliation with the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) or any other organization, make sure to verify that on the online registries of these websites. Make sure to do your research so that you don’t end up falling for exaggerated marketing claims.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.