These days we are inundated with promises of procedures that can be performed ‘your lunch hour’ – from Botox to liposuction, the marketing teams are desperate to cash in on both our desire for physical beauty and our hectic modern lifestyles. Most of the time, when you delve deeper, these treatments turn out to take a bit longer than an hour, or at least need an afternoon off for recovery – either as genuine downtime, or because the immediate after effects would give the game away to your colleagues. So you’d be forgiven for expecting the same from DHI, or direct hair implantation, a new hair transplant technique that has been dubbed the ‘lunch hour hair transplant’ since it first appeared a few years ago. The Daily Mail covered this technique this week [See full story here], as writer James Draper underwent the procedure to disguise a receding hairline. We’ve done a bit of investigating to find out the truth… What is it? DHI is a relatively new technique that involves the removal of hair follicles one by one from a donor area at the back of the head, then replanting them in the area of thinning hair – most commonly the hairline or crown. The procedure actually takes several hours, so the ‘lunch hour’ tag is once again a bit of a misnomer, but it is relatively quick and painless, with no need for a general anaesthetic, no surgery, no scarring and no need for an overnight stay in hospital. DHI vs FUE Currently, the preferred hair transplant surgery technique, is Follicular Unit Extraction. During this procedure, individual hair follicles are taken from the donor area before being grafted into the recipient area. It can take many hours to perform and is often carried out over a couple of days; first the donor area is injected with a local anaesthetic and then, with specially designed instruments, the surgeon will remove the follicular unit, one by one. Then, in a separate stage, the recipient area is injected with local anaesthetic and the follicular units are then inserted, one by one, typically with a maximum of 800 follicular units transplanted in one session. The survival of the grafts depends on the body’s individual response, but it is also influenced, favourably or otherwise, by external factors such as hydration, temperature and handling. All of these factors are improved by reducing the amount of time that the hair follicules are out of the body, which led to the development of DHI. The individual follicular unit is implanted immediately into the recipient area in one procedure. What types of hair loss can be treated? This technique can be used to treat most kinds of hair thinning – from receding hairlines to crown balding, although it is not suitable for complete baldness, for obvious reasons. Many celebrities are known to have undergone direct hair implantation, including cricketer Phil Tufnell and Dutch footballer Ronald de Boer. What are the downsides? As with any hair transplant technique, the main issue is that hair loss, particularly male hair loss, tends to be progressive. This means that the hair thinning will continue over time, so you may need further transplants in later years if you want to continue to mask the problem. There are lots of different options to deal with hair loss, and if you are unsure what would be the right course of action for you, the best starting point is to speak to a hair loss expert, who can assess your particular situation and help you decide on the best plan going forward.