Medical hair restoration involves the surgical transplantation of hair follicles from the permanent zone, at the back of the head, to thinning or balding regions of the crown, top or frontal hairline regions. Medical hair restoration can be a great option and serve as a life-long solution for hair loss sufferers, yet it is not for everyone. This article discusses hair restoration surgery and will help you assess whether you are a good candidate for medical hair restoration.
One of the most important concepts to understand about medical hair restoration is that hair loss is a lifelong process. Although individuals generally have a genetic predisposition to baldness, and hair loss can occur in certain ‘patterns’, the full extent and time-frame of hair loss remain quite unpredictable. For this reason, we always encourage patients undergoing medical hair restoration to plan for a ‘worst-case scenario’. Avoid jumping into a large procedure too early, as donor supply is finite and the last thing you want to do is deplete your donor supply prematurely. Young men are generally discouraged from pursuing medical hair restoration until they are older and their hair loss appears to have stabilized.
Medical Therapies and Hair Restoration
Medical therapies (such as finasteride and minoxidil) may help slow or stop the progression of hair loss, at least temporarily. We encourage all medical hair restoration patients to take one or both of these medications for at least 6 months to a year prior to undergoing surgery. Even if they do not work to restore lost hair, slowing the hair loss process buys the patient more time and means that they will likely require fewer grafts and hair restoration procedures throughout their lifetime.
Medical Therapies and Hair Restoration
Hair restoration’s affordability has dramatically increased over the past decade. This is largely due to Follicular Unit Extraction’s (FUE) growing prevalence, greater affordability for the surgeon, and superiority to Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT).
While much more expensive in the past, FUT costs between $3,000 up to $10,000 depending on the surgeon. The latter price is much higher than average and most patients should be able to find a decent procedure closer to the spectrum’s lower range. This is because of FUT’s detractions.
- An evident scar of an unpredictable size that effects natural hair growth patterns at the back of the head.
- Hair plugs that become evident and appear doll-like with age
- Less precise hairline due to use of plugs in the first place
- A prolonged recovery time that requires the patient’s personal care
Going further, it becomes costly when the inevitable repair work is necessary. Patients that use finasteride, minoxidil, or outpatient treatments stand a better chance of avoiding this work but there are no guarantees. Within a decade or sooner many patients need their plugs extracted and separated. This also does not consider scar repair. Typically, this involves a combination of FUE transplantation and scalp micro-pigmentation.
FUE used to be costlier than FUT due to scarcity as well the dedication, skill, and time it requires. As it matured and was demonstrably a better option than FUT its price began to decline. The number of skilled surgeons with solid training has increased over the past two decades. Many, though, lacking prerequisite knowledge and training are also offering the procedure to remain competitive. Badly done FUE is not nearly as severe, usually, as badly done FUT but it still should be avoided at all costs; scarring can be evident, hairlines can appear unnatural, and coverage can be poor due to transection rates. Most reputable surgeons in fact charge many times the amount than those gaining charlatans.
The cost is typically calculated via the number of transplants. The low range is $2 per hair and the high range is $10 per hair. Aside from the clinic and surgeon, the type of FUE also matters. For instance, those offering robotic FUE (not currently recommended by most experts) make a surcharge of $1 per graft.
Personal Characteristics and Hair Transplantation
Another consideration, when it comes to deciding whether medical hair restoration is right for you, involves your hair characteristics. Hair color, as it relates to underlying skin color, is one such factor. The less contrast there is between the hair and the scalp, the better potential coverage will be following hair restoration surgery. The degree of curl will also affect the outcome of a medical hair restoration procedure, as greater curl or wave can provide additional coverage. Finally, a higher hair caliber can positively impact the coverage you ultimately achieve. More advanced procedures, such as the Cole Isolation Technique (CIT), allow physicians to use the most positive attributes of every hair type to achieve the best results possible. In addition to general hair characteristics, it is important to consider the density of the donor supply you have available to transplant. Individuals with very fine and sparse hair to achieve have a harder time finding an acceptable level of density from a medical hair restoration procedure.
Many hair loss sufferers want to find a solution that will restore their hair fully and instantly. However, medical hair restoration surgery is a major decision that requires careful research and thought before proceeding. Jumping into medical hair restoration surgery too early, or if you are an unsuitable candidate altogether, can lead to future frustration. Make sure you take the time to research various techniques, surgeons, and methods and be sure to speak to your physician about developing a long-term plan for combating hair loss. Medical hair restoration is a great advancement that has restored the hair and confidence of many individuals; however, it is not a ‘quick fix’ that should be approached blindly.