Can Hair Transplants Finally End Your Hair Loss Misery?
Have you tried different methods but still losing hair?
Hair transplant claims to solve all your problems no matter how severe your condition is. Is it true?
In this article, we look at the various types of transplants, costs, downsides, whether it works and more.
What is Hair Transplant?
Hair transplantation or hair transplant is the removal of hair follicles from a 'donor' site to be transplanted to the 'recipient' site.
This is done through surgical procedures to treat male pattern baldness.
Why do you want to do a hair transplant surgery?
When the hair follicles in your 'recipient' site are no longer active and growing as with receding hairlines, and you've tried many ways to cure it but to no avail, that's when hair transplant comes in.
The follicles on the back or sides of your head are usually less prone to balding so they could be transplanted to 'bare' regions on your scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or any parts of your body that you want hair. Hair from your beard or chest could also be transplanted as well, although it's going to be curly. Another term that people used is hair implants.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Hair naturally grows in groups of 1 to 4 hairs. One of these follicles groups would be called a follicular unit. With modern technology available now, these groupings can be harvested to be implanted at the recipient site to create a more natural look. This type of hair transplant is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
Have You Heard of Hair Plugs?
The term, hair plugs, is an outdated way for hair transplant from the 1950s.
Till this day, some are still using it to describe hair transplants. Technology has advanced to a stage where terms like FUT and FUE come into play. With hair plugs, 3-4mm punch tools are used to harvest follicles usually from the back of the head in a random way. These 3-4mm areas usually contain around 20 follicles in a random fashion - not in any follicle groups.
Comparing that to modern day technology, 1mm or lesser needles are now used. Furthermore with hair plugs, the surgeon will make an incision in the balding area smaller than the 3-4 size so that the 'plug' could be plugged in.
The outcome of this old procedure gives a very unnatural look like those you see in dolls. Thus, the difference between hair plugs and modern hair transplants is huge.
The 2 Types of Harvesting
There are 2 main ways follicles can be harvested. Each has its pros and cons. One who is considering should place a greater emphasis on the type of harvesting since the implanting of hair grafts is similar for both methods.
This is the most common method people choose. You can refer this as the classic technique or FUT as well. A strip of about 1-1.5 cm * 15-30 cm is harvested, usually from the back of your head. Then, it is further dissected to separate the follicle groupings from the strip.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
This method is much more tedious as it involves the surgeon to extract follicular units one at a time from the donor site. They do this by using a 1mm needle. Some surgeons do this using even smaller needles at 0.8mm. FUE surgeons are less common as the skills needed to learn are time-consuming and costly. Even then, to develop high standards would be tough.
FUT Surgery Walk-through
Here's a video of what goes around in an FUT operation. We're not in any way related to the video's producers. It's just an excellent video to show how it's like to do a transplant.
Strip Harvesting (FUT) vs FUE
In this section, we discuss the pros and cons of each method. There isn't one which triumphs above the other. Look at the factors and see which are more suitable for you.
Length of Surgery
As the surgeon requires to extract the follicular units one by one from the donor site, it takes a tremendous amount of time. In comparison to FUT, the surgeon just needs to extract the stretch of skin. After which, assistants will dissect this strip into the individual follicular units. Take note that the time needed depends on the severity of your condition. If you have just mild balding, it won't take long for FUE.
Of course, costs around the world will be different. That's why some have chosen to travel around the globe in search for the cheapest or the best surgeons. The costs for FUE are usually higher compared to FUT because it involves more resources.
The skill of the surgeon would relate to the survival of the follicles. Although 'skills' between FUE and FUT are subjective, due to the nature of the operation, FUE requires more complexity.
Follicle Survival Rate
When surgeons are in the process of transplanting, there is a chance that follicles get transected (cut across). This will render the transplant useless as the follicles will not be able to survive after transplant.
In FUE, the likelihood of this happening is higher as follicle units are transplanted on an individual basis.
In strip harvesting, there would be a greater chance of follicular units surviving as the groups are separated using a microscope.
Furthermore, as FUE takes a longer time to complete, the harvested follicles tend to stay out of the body for a longer period which leads to having sub-optimal growth of hairs after the transplant.
You would be concerned with any scarring involved. In FUT, the scarring is linear. In FUE, you would see hundreds or thousands of one-millimeter 'holes.' The recovery of the scars depends on how the surgeon performs. Usually, these scars go unnoticed, but there's still a chance that it'll be permanent.
After surgery, your head would be very tender so exercise caution when handling it. You would need to wear bandages for a day or two, and most people would go back to work in a weeks' time.
What's Next After Harvesting?
After the harvesting, both procedures are the same. The surgeon creates holes or slits in areas where the hair will be transplanted. Then, he'll place the hair grafts into these holes.
The Cost of Hair Transplant Restoration
The costs really varies. There are many factors that go into this. The method of the harvesting, the surgeon's experience and expertise, number of grafts needed, etc. According to WebMD, the costs range from $4000 to $15000.
Results: Hair Transplant Before And After Pictures
Here's a video of how the results of a hair transplant can look like. We have no affiliations with the video's producers. It's to show you the possibilities of what you can achieve.
Celebrity Hair Transplants
Here are some of the famous people who had done hair transplants:
The famous England soccer player was already going bald at 25-years-old. He openly declared that he went for a hair transplant on his Twitter account and cheekily asked for hair gel recommendations.
The 'hot-headed' Cook was seen at a party with the back of his scalp shaved. This is usually a sign that hair transplant was done because surgeons need to shave 'donor' sites to have easy access to the roots. Furthermore, he used a hair fiber to cover up his scalp.
The 39-year-old singer mentioned about staying in Los Angeles prompted him to get surgeries done. He didn't need a hair transplant as he was thinning slightly but eventually, he did.
Hair Transplant Timeline
Individual timelines vary due to a variety of factors. Here's a general timeline on what goes on after a hair transplant.
- Week 0-1: Swelling and redness of donor and recipient sites.
- Week 1-2: Crusting of the skin can be removed by scrubbing it off. The hair grafts are firmly in place.
- Week 2-3: Shedding begins. This is normal so don't be alarmed by it.
- Month 2-5: Hair starts to grow
- 1 Year: Substantial hair is seen
Hair transplants are usually a last resort for most people suffering from Male Patterned Baldness (MPB).
Do hair transplants work?
They do work to a certain extent. It depends on what's your desired outcome. If you're just looking for more hair on your head, then hair transplants do work. If you want something that is permanent, extremely natural looking and something that replaces your original hair, then it'll be tougher to achieve, even with the best surgeons.
Much of the results depend on the surgeons themselves, and you get what you pay for.
Friends or families should notice you had a hair transplant done after it grows out because the results are obvious. As for other people, they shouldn't notice.
With that being said, have you exhausted all available options?
There can be plenty of treatments, remedies or cures that you haven't tried yet. They could very well be the only solutions that you need.
Are you considering a hair transplant? Or done it before? Let us know what your think or share your experiences. We would love to hear from you.