Hair transplant surgery

Many times we see hair as a reflection of our personality. This is one of the most visible feminine features and it’s also seen as a sign of manliness. Men can appear more masculine with facial hair just as much as women look more feminine with a good hairstyle. Patients looking for a more prominent look can now take advantage of hair transplant surgery. More hair will definitely revolutionize your appearance and enhance your confidence. Some people enjoy going to the hair dresser every week but why not to the surgeon? Hair transplant surgery yields effective results and it will save you a few visits to the hair salon. You will love the feeling of having plenty of natural hair!

Does hair transplant work?

Hair transplant surgery comprises extracting hair follicles individually from a donor site and repositioning them to specific areas lacking hair. After you talk to your surgeon he or she will determine which hair transplant technique is best for you. Frontal hair loss and baldness is very common, specially as you age. Other factors such as a change in hormones, family history of baldness, and trauma may also contribute to hair loss. It’s important to talk to your doctor and find out the cause of hair loss in order to eliminate any serious medical condition before evaluating hair restoration and finding a hair loss solution.

Who is a qualified candidate for a hair transplant procedure?

Contrary to popular believe which often makes it seem like everyone is a good candidate to undergo hair surgery, not everyone may qualify. There are some things to consider first:

  • Age: Young patients (18-25) generally don’t qualify for this procedure since their hair loss can persist over time. Having a hair transplant too early may not be a good idea.
  • Sex: Men and women lose hair differently. Men have some specific areas in their scalp where hair is very thin while women have a diffuse thinning in the entire head. However, some women may have some specific areas where they lose hair more, which make them good candidates for a hair restoration procedure. All men are good candidates for the procedure of hair transplant except those who have diffuse thinning.
  • Amount of hair loss: When hair loss is stabilized, it’s easier for the doctor to plant grafts into the appropriate areas. Patients who are 1 or 2 in the Norwood hair loss scale ought to avoid the hair transplant process. Non-surgical hair restoration or non-surgical hair replacement may work better for them.
  • Type of hair: Patients with thicker hair, have more chances with FUE hair transplant since it gives a fuller appearance.
  • Race: This may also be another important factor. Asians, for example, have very straight hair with less thickness than Caucasians. Hair restoration surgeons that have experience transplanting hair on Asian patients may be more qualified to perform such procedure. On the other hand, African American patients have coarse and curly hair which is very advantageous for hair transplantation. But they have more probability of having scars after the procedure has been performed.
  • Scalp laxity: If the scalp is loose it’s easier to remove donor hair and there are also less chances of scarring. This is something surgeons will evaluate before performing a procedure for hair transplant , and it will help them determine how much hair can be removed.

Hair transplant for men: Are you a potential candidate?

Although hair restoration surgeries can improve a man’s general sense of being and appearance not every man is a good candidate for this type of surgery. Men who wish to undergo this type of procedure must have realistic expectations and remember there is a limited amount of hair to work with. When the hair grafts available for transplantation are not used wisely the outcome may not be as expected.

male hair restoration candidate

The ideal candidates for men’s hair implants are:

  • Men whose hair loss has been caused by MPB during 5 years or more and also men who are in class 3 or above in the Norwood Scale.
  • Men who have realistic expectations and understand that hair loss may persist even when taking prescription drugs.
  • Men balding for a long time who seem to stabilize and would love to add a more young-looking appearance.
  • Men whose hair loss was caused by trauma or burns.
  • Men who lost hair after a cosmetic procedure such as face-lifts.

Female hair transplant surgery candidates

Only a few women can actually qualify for hair restoration for women and achieve the best hair transplant results. This is due to women having thinning of the hair, which include the back and the sides, and these are the sites that are stable and serve as donor sites. According to experts only about 2-5% of women may qualify for this procedure. Potential candidates include:

  • Women who suffered hair loss caused by Alopecia.
  • Women who are concerned with hair loss around incision sites from previous plastic or cosmetic surgeries.
  • Women with pattern of baldness similar to men.
  • Women with hair loss produced by trauma, including scarring from accidents, chemical burns, and burn victims.
  • Women who suffer a condition called alopecia marginalis.

Learning about best hair replacement options

Technology has provided us with newer and safer methods to transplant hair and the results are better and more realistic than ever before. Hair surgery can take years off your looks and add the fullness you always wanted. This is the best approach to new and natural hair and it yields long-lasting results.

woman hair transplant candidate

Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)

A strip of scalp is surgically removed from the donor area or safe zone during the FUT procedure, and single hair follicles are shaped into hair grafts by the surgeon. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia. Scalp hair usually grows in follicular units of 1 to 4 hairs therefore FUT allows the hair to look very natural. FUT makes sure that each hair graft will look the same as the surrounding area.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE hair transplant)

FUE hair transplant has revolutionized the way hair transplantation is performed. It helps more hair follicles to survive the transplantation. Most patients appreciate this procedure. This surgical technique uses a minimal depth scoring punch device in order to loosen the follicle form the surrounding area. Hair follicle units are then extracted using a 0.8 or 1.0 mm punch minimal depth incision. Hair follicles are placed manually into tiny slits in the balding region.

Direct hair transplant

DHI (Direct Hair transplant) is a company and they perform the FUE method. The DHI Direct Hair Implantation allows hair follicles to be implanted directly into the thinning area that needs the transplants. Hair follicles are placed in a particular angle, depth, and direction with the help of the DHI patented device. Implanted hairs will continue to grow throughout the person’s lifetime and they won’t fall out. The revolutionary technique and hair replacement system they use is FUE, which is one of the latest and most advanced innovations in hair implantation technology to provide patients with natural-looking and healthy hair.

DHI claims this method to be non-surgical but this not true. It’s a surgery just like FUE, which is performed by other doctors and companies. They also claim it to be a ‘no touch’ procedure. Hair follicles can’t be removed without the surgical device touching the scalp.

Laser hair transplant

This procedure was FDA approved and implemented in the 1990s. Laser hair loss treatment is used to make the aperture in the scalp and the hair is grafted and then inserted into these holes. However, later it was discovered that laser lowers the survival rate of grafts by 40%. The laser beam cauterizes that area, stopping blood flow that a new graft needs to survive. Lasers are a wonderful tool but not as efficient to implant hair grafts.

fue neograft hair transplant

Automated FUE: Neograft hair transplant

Neograft is the first FDA cleared follicular unit harvesting and implantation device delivering great results in hair transplantation. NeoGraft automatizes the FUE technique, which is the most advanced technique in hair transplantation. Pneumatic controls are used to extract hair follicles and transplant them to selected areas in the scalp.

Robotic hair transplant (ARTAS robotic hair transplant)

The ARTAS system includes a robotic arm with site creation capabilities and hair extraction. The way this is accomplished is by a double-punch procedure with an inner and outer punch. There is also a computer and interface. The inner punch will score the upper-most portion of the skin while mild suction creates stability in the skin allowing the robot to follow movements in the patient’s head. The follicular unit is dissected from the surrounding tissue by the outer punch’s blunt edge. This helps lessen injury and trauma to the grafts. This device is very advanced and uses image-guided technology throughout the entire hair implant surgery process allowing everything to be done with microscopic precision.

Common areas treated with a hair replacement surgery

Hair can be transplanted to many areas in the body. Body hair transplant, for example, is used to restore hair mainly to the abdomen area and chest and but it can also be done on the axilla, pubic hair, or any other areas hair is wanted. Although the majority of hair transplants are done on the scalp, facial hair implants are now growing in popularity and other areas such as eyebrows, beards, goatees, mustaches, and sideburns are now growing in popularity. Many men are turning to facial hair transplants in order to have a more masculine look. The beard and goatee hair transplant is very similar to the scalp hair transplant. The surgeon will design a beard or goatee and extract hair from donor areas on sides and back of the head in order to transplant it into the recipient area the surgeon has just created.

Inside the hair transplant surgery process

Although some people may feel more confident with modern hair transplant techniques, it’s important you don’t let your guard down.

Research hair transplant information

Doing proper research before undergoing this or any other surgical procedure is vital. Some physicians may be performing outdated and dangerous hair transplant techniques in order to offer attract clients by offering them a more affordable price. It’s important to remember this procedure for hair transplant should be performed by a professional and it might take 5 to 10 hours. You should avoid some procedures such as:

hair anatomy
  • Hair Flap
  • Linear or Line Grafts
  • Round or Square Grafts
  • Scalp Reduction
  • Hair Lift
  • Scalp Expanders

According to the American Hair Loss Association, these procedures are not cosmetically acceptable and they can also pose a number of risks.

Finding the right surgeon for the procedure

You must choose a well-qualified hair transplant specialist or surgeon to perform this procedure. Research on their background, and look at their portfolio or before and after pictures. You should also be aware about the techniques they use, if they are safe.

How is hair transplant done?

The first thing the surgeon does is cleaning the scalp and injecting a medicine to numb the back of the head. The surgeon will either choose the FUSS or FUE technique in order to perform this procedure. With the FUSS a 6-10 inch is removed from the back of the head, set aside, and then the scalp is closed. After that, the surgeon divides the strip of the skin into 500 to 2000 small hair grafts. The amount of hair grafts you get will depend on a few factors such as hair size, color, or type of hair of the zone where you are removing the implant. If you prefer the FUE procedure, the doctor will shave the back of your scalp and remove hair follicles one by one. There are no scars except for minor tiny dots, which your hair will be able to cover. After that both procedures FUSS and FUE are relatively the same. Grafts are prepared and the doctors will clean and numb the area where they will be implanted gently placing each graft in the hole where they will be implanted. Other team members may help during this step. This procedure may take 4 to 8 hours depending on how much hair is being transplanted. Also, you may need to come back for another procedure if you keep losing hair or decide you want to implant more hair.

Hair transplant side effects and recovery

Recovery can be long and cause mild to moderate pain. Patients will be prescribed analgesics for a few days and they will be advised to wear a surgical dressing over the scalp for about 2 to 4 days. Antibiotics are also prescribed and a hair growing drug to help in the growth of the transplanted hair. Within 15 day the transplanted hair will fall and new hair will grow again.

Some possible side effects that may occur include:

  • Forehead and scalp swelling.
  • Infection and bleeding.
  • The hair thinning or shock loss.

Surgical hair replacement vs. non-surgical hair replacement

Surgery for hair loss may not be the right approach for men or women having a hair loss problem. Non-surgical hair replacement alternatives can also provide cosmetic improvements until surgery becomes the best option. In other words, undergoing hair transplantation immediately may not be a good idea as it might deplete the donor site area. Hair transplantation done too early may not be effective if the person continues to lose hair. Hair loss starts at an early age and the amount of hair loss can’t be predicted. It’s better to wait for a more mature age.

A young person concerned about hair loss can use some alternative hair loss solutions such as medical treatments for hair loss. Finasteride (Propecia®) and Minoxidil (Rogaine®) are the two treatments approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. Minoxidil is available without prescription and Finasteride is a prescribed drug. These treatments can be used independently or in combination. They can lower the rate of hair loss until the surgeon determines surgery can be undertaken.

There are also some non-prescription products that help camouflage thinning hair. These products are applied to the scalp in order to give the appearance of fullness. Some of these products are fibers that attach to the hair to give it a fuller appearance. These products come in different colors to match your natural hair color. A hairpiece is another temporary solution but it might not serve for long-term purposes. Your physician will help you decide whether this good alternative for you or not.

Hair transplant advantages and disadvantages

There are a number of benefits associated with hair transplant surgery. Although there is no major medical risk linked to this procedure some disadvantages should be mentioned. Nevertheless, these disadvantages are not negative enough to cause patients to refuse undergoing this procedure. Minor medical risks include:

  • Haemorrhaging and infections: If patients follow the advice of surgeon and team this will not happen. When bleeding or infections do occur, a simple treatment will solve the problem.
  • Risk of nerve damage: This generally happens in surgeries where a portion of the scalp is removed.
  • Scarring: This is usually very minimal, depending on the technique employed. However, there will always be a chance of improper healing or visible scars.
  • Sometimes there is hair loss after this procedure has been performed but in most cases it’s just shedding. The hair will grow back again.

Most patients like the results of this procedure. Your surgeon will give you sound advice and keep your expectations in check. This type of surgery has been improved upon with modern techniques and devices. However, the results may not be as perfect as you had imagined. If grafts are taken form donor sites without plenty of hair or perhaps there were not many grafts extracted, the reels may not be as expected.

hair transplant surgery before and after

How much does hair transplant surgery cost?

This procedure can achieve life-long results therefore it’ll be a good investment. The price always depends on the complexity of the procedure or amount of hair to be transplanted as well as the hair transplant clinic where it’ll be performed. The cost is generally $8-$9.50 per graft. Each graft can have up to 4 hairs.

Hair transplant surgery FAQ

Where are my donor sites?
Male and female pattern baldness is very common. It means you lose your hair in some areas more than in others. Men, for example, tend to lose hair in the front, top and crown of the head. The sides and back of the head generally retain plenty of hair. These are the areas or donor sites where hair is grafted from.
Is hair thickness a major factor during hair transplantation?
Patients who have more hair density and scalp laxity will have more hair grafts transplanted and accomplish better results. Hair density is simply the amount of hair follicles and scalp laxity is how flexible the scalp is.
Can the direction in which your hair grows affect the transplant?
There are different types of hair. Coarse hair, for example, can be transplanted using less amount of hair in each graft. This type of hair can achieve maximum coverage of the scalp. Fine hair, on the other hand, although it looks very natural, it gives less coverage than coarse hair. Curly and wavy hairs hold their shape and have greater coverage and visual results covering more scalp area than straight or fine hair.
Are the hair color or skin color important factors to consider?
When the skin and hair color is close, the hair’s coverage will also look better in appearance. African American patients, for example, have dark curly hair; therefore they will have the best visually-appealing hair transplant results. Patients with light skin and darker hair pose the most artistic challenges since they have the most contrast between their skin color and hair color.
What are some things to keep in mind before surgery?
  • You should wash your hair twice a day before surgery but don’t do hair spa.
  • Don’t take any hard drugs or antibiotics, blood thinners such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Patients, who need these medications for a serious illness, should consult their doctor first before they stop taking them.
  • Don’t take any vitamin supplements, alcohol, smoking and vitamin A, B, etc. a week prior to surgery.
  • After surgery, you can take vitamins, mineral and nutrients, and used the shampoo your surgeon recommended to wash your hair.
How many procedures are needed??
This all depends on the extent of the patient’s hair loss, hair loss rate, and the amount of donor hair available. Men generally have the results they are looking for in one or two hair transplant sessions. Women generally need more sessions in order to achieve more density. Each session can last between five and ten hours.
How will surgeons determine which part will accept the transplanted hair?
Hair is generally transplanted on the top and front of the head. These are the areas that make the most impact on the patient’s look. The last area to receive hair is generally the crown, except when it’s the patient’s only balding area.
What happens during my first consultation?
The surgeon or hair transplant specialist will first examine your head thoroughly with a Hair Densitometer and take your medical history. Measuring your hair density will let the surgeon evaluate the amount of hair in each follicular unit and calculate the hair loss pattern patients may experience over time when applied to the specific category of hair loss. The Hair Densitometer also helps the surgeon or hair transplant specialist compare fine and tick hair, their length and diameter. The entire procedure should be explained, including any risks, and what will be expected during the months following the procedure. Everything should be put into writing.
Updated on: October 21st, 2016

Disclaimer: Non Surgical Treatments, Diets, Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Results Can Vary Significantly Between Patients.