Hair can be very important to many people’s confidence and individuality. Unfortunately, hair loss is a common problem many people face and can potentially affect their self-esteem and interaction with others.
According to studies, by age 35, 40 percent of men start to see signs of hair loss. Meanwhile, 40 percent of women start to see signs of hair loss by age 40.
There are different types of hair loss and different causes of hair loss, so it is important to be evaluated by a doctor specializing in hair loss to determine your specific diagnosis and cause. Certain types of hair loss such as androgenetic alopecia (also known as male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss, patterned hair loss, or patterned blading) and traction alopecia are examples of types of hair loss in which hair transplant surgery can be considered. In those who are appropriate candidates, a hair transplant can help individuals achieve a fuller head of hair.
If your hair loss bothers you and you want to regain your hair, then this procedure might be a good option for you.
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant also known as hair restoration or hair restoration surgery is a surgical procedure where a hair restoration surgeon takes hair units (called grafts) from areas of your scalp with thicker hair (such as the back and sides of the scalp) and transplants them into bald or thinning areas.
This is usually recommended for patients who have tried common non-surgical solutions to hair loss or for those with little to no existing hair in the affected areas.
How do hair transplants work?
To perform a hair transplant, a hair restoration surgeon takes grafts from the donor site (typically the sides and back of the scalp that have stronger more permanent hair) using either the follicular unit excision/extraction (FUE) method or the follicular unit transplant (FUT) method. Then, they transplant the tiny grafts into the portions of the scalp without hair or with thin hair. The grafts then take usually 12-15 months to fully grow in.
Is hair transplant safe?
When a hair transplant is performed by skilled and experienced hair restoration surgeons, a hair transplant is generally safe. However, all procedures have risks (see below). It is important to discuss your individual case, including your risk factors and potential risks and complications of the procedure, with the performing hair restoration surgeon as they will be able to give you the best information regarding your individual case and the methods they use to perform the procedure.
Who should get a hair transplant?
Hair transplant is often considered in forms of hair loss such as patterned baldness, patterned thinning, traction alopecia, or hair loss from trauma or radiation.
Good candidates for hair transplant or hair restoration surgery include:
- Individuals with patterned baldness
- Individuals with patterned thinning
- Individuals with traction alopecia
- People who are in good health
- People who still have thick, dense hair in portions of their scalp
Meanwhile, hair transplant or hair restoration surgery is often not recommended for the following:
- People whose hair loss is due to chemotherapy
- People with many medical causes of hair loss
- People with autoimmune or primary scarring hair loss
- People with poor quality, thin, sparse hair in the donor area
Types of hair transplant
There are two types of hair transplants:
Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT)
Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), also referred to as the “strip method” is performed by removing a piece of tissue from the back of the scalp, suturing the tissue back together, separating the follicles into individual grafts, and then transplanting them into the thinning or bald areas on the scalp.
Once the incision line heals, a linear scar is left where the tissue was taken from in the donor area. Individuals who have had a FUT procedure often are instructed to wear their hair longer in the donor area (often 1-1.5 cm) in order to adequately cover potential scarring. The healing in the recipient area is similar between the FUT and FUE procedures.
Follicular Unit Excision/Extraction (FUE)
Unlike FUT, Follicular Unit Excision/Extraction (FUE) involves the extraction of individual follicular units from the scalp using small circular incisions. This is less invasive than the FUT methods. It is important to note that this is not a scarless procedure. There is no linear scar but there are small dot scars scattered throughout the donor area where follicular units were extracted. The absence of a linear scar often allows more flexibility in how short individuals can keep their hair in the donor area following an FUE procedure compared to a FUT procedure.
Despite the differences, both types of hair transplant still have their own pros and cons. To understand which type of hair transplant surgery works best for your condition, it is best to talk to hair restoration experts such as our doctors at Root Hair Institute.
How long does a hair transplant take to heal?
The hair transplant recovery process and duration may vary from person to person and based on the surgical type and techniques used. See our article on hair transplant recovery for more details.
It is important to note that during the process of recovery and hair growth, there can temporarily be more thinning and hair loss, termed shock loss.
How long does it take for a hair transplant to grow
Hair growth often starts around 4-6 months after the procedure; however, it can take up to 12-15 months to see the full result of the procedure.
It is important to note, however, that the process of recovery and hair growth for the newly-transplanted grafts takes time and anything can happen while waiting, such as more thinning and hair loss. A hair transplant does not prevent hair loss of the native hairs. This is why it is important to also discuss potential maintenance therapies such as medications, red light therapy, and growth factor injections with your hair loss doctor along with your surgery. These non-surgical maintenance therapies can help to minimize further hair loss and even thicken hair or grow more hair in areas with existing hair in some cases.
Hair transplant risks
Generally, hair transplants are a well-tolerated procedure. However, there are always potential risks in any procedure. Some that are more common and often resolved with proper care include itching, pain, redness, tightness, bleeding, crusting, bruising, and swelling. If you develop any of these after a procedure, inform your performing hair restoration surgeon so they can help you determine the next steps.
Other potential risks of a hair transplant include the following:
- Numbness in the donor or recipient area
- Skin necrosis
- Cyst formation
- Hair loss around the surgical site
- Change in hair texture or color
- Unnatural-looking hair
- Poor growth
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia
Be sure to discuss the risks of the procedure and your risk as an individual based on your case with your hair restoration surgeon (such as ours at Root Hair Institute).
Hair transplant benefits
Potential benefits of hair transplant include the following:
- Thicker fuller hair in areas of thinning or balding
- Decreased scalp visibility
- Transplanted hairs are usually permanent
- Often increased confidence
- Long-term can be most cost-effective than other treatments such as hair systems
How much is a hair transplant?
Hair transplant fees largely depend on how much hair is needed to cover the thinning or bald areas, the techniques used, and the doctor and team. At Root Hair Institute (RHI), our pricing depends on the number of grafts required among other factors. Most cases at RHI range between $7,000 to $20,000. To get an idea of how much your hair transplant procedure is going to cost, talk to a specialist at Root Hair Institute to get evaluated.
We also offer multiple financing options. This can help make hair transplant fees more manageable for many individuals.
How long does a hair transplant last?
Transplanted hairs are typically permanent. However, hair transplants do not prevent further hair loss of non-transplanted hairs. Thus it is important to also discuss maintenance therapy options with your hair loss doctor to help minimize and strengthen existing hair.
Gain back lost hair and confidence with a hair transplant
Hair transplant procedures are gaining popularity as they are typically long-lasting and with modern techniques often produce natural-looking results.
To know if this procedure is right for you, talk to one of our specialists here at Root Hair Institute. We will evaluate your hair, determine if you are an appropriate candidate, walk you through the entire hair transplant process, the risks, and expected results, and educate you on your treatment options.