When you think of a hair transplant, you might envision rows of unnatural-looking “hair plugs” that more closely resemble a doll’s head than a natural head of hair. However, hair transplants have come a long, long way since the days of hair plugs. You’ve probably seen people with great hair and never guessed that they had a hair transplant! Many celebrities, including Matthew McConaughey, Elton John, David Beckham, and Mel Gibson, have undergone hair transplant surgery and their results look fantastic.
Hair transplant procedures are more common than you think. In 2014, there were 112,409 hair transplant procedures in the US alone. More men and women are electing for hair transplant surgery than ever before. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration, hair restoration procedures worldwide increased 76% between 2006 and 2014. Women are also undergoing the procedure, making up 15% of hair restoration patients.
Hair transplants aren’t just for your scalp, either. Hair transplants can be used to restore eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, or any other area where unwanted hair loss as occurred. In fact, 10.9% of all hair transplant procedures performed treat these non-scalp areas.
Hair transplant results often appear miraculous, but like any cosmetic surgery, there are some risks as well. Are you someone with genetic pattern baldness who is curious about hair transplants? Then read on! In this post we will discuss how the surgery works, the results, the costs, and alternatives.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Unlike other transplant surgeries that involve donor tissue from an outside source, hair for a hair transplant actually comes from your own head! A hair transplant involves a doctor taking hair from an area of your scalp where you have hair (the “donor site”) and placing the healthy follicles in an area where you don’t have hair (the “recipient site”). The procedure takes place in your doctor’s office under localized anesthesia, meaning that you are awake for the surgery. The surgery can take up to 8 hours, so patients are usually provided with entertainment during their surgery like movies or television. You can go on a Netflix binge while you have your hair “done”!
There are two main types of hair transplant procedures: strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction.
During this type of procedure, the surgeon removes a 6 to 10-inch strip of scalp from the back of your head. The surgeon’s team then removes the healthy hair follicles from the strip, which are inserted into recipient site. Because the area where the strip is removed will require stitches, this type of hair transplant has a longer recovery period of 2 weeks.
Follicular Unit Extraction
If strip harvesting sounds too gnarly for you, there’s always follicular unit extraction. During a follicular unit extraction hair transplant, follicles are removed directly from the scalp and placed in the recipient site. This type of hair transplant is more expensive and has a longer operating time, but doesn’t leave a scar and has a shorter recovery time of 7 days.
Your doctor will work with you to decide which type of procedure is right for you. The recovery, which we will discuss next, is basically the same for both types of surgeries.
After the Surgery
The results of your hair transplant won’t be apparent immediately. During the first ten days after the procedure, most of the transplanted hairs will actually fall out. If you have a strip harvesting procedure, you will need to have your stitches removed after a week. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication and give you special bandages and shampoo to give your hair follicles the best chance possible of taking root.
After the transplant hairs fall out, new hairs will start growing from the transplanted follicles and the hair will thicken through the next 6-9 months. If you want to see more immediate results, you can use Toppik Hair Building Fibers to create the illusion of more density while your new hair grows in.
Hair Transplant Surgery Results & Cost
Though it depends on hair color and texture, most patients see positive, though not completely ideal, results. Many patients require a “touch-up” surgery to create more natural-looking results. Also, since a hair transplant does nothing to slow the rate of hair loss, you may need additional hair transplants if you continue to lose hair.
If this is all sounding pretty good to you, you’re probably wondering how much a hair transplant costs! The cost of a hair transplant procedure depends on how much hair you need moved, the quality of the plastic surgeon, and the length of the surgery time. Hair transplant procedures typically cost between $4,000 and $15,000. Considering that many patients need a second procedure, the cost of hair transplants can really add up! Therefore, we have also explored some hair transplant surgery alternatives in case surgery is not in your budget.
Hair Transplant Surgery Alternatives
Hair transplants are not a miracle cure for hair loss. While many patients see dramatic results, they are not for everyone. If you don’t have enough hair for a donor site, a hair transplant is not possible. As with any surgery, there is also the risk of infection and other unintended side effects. And if with such a hefty price tag, they are definitely not in everyone’s budget! If you are looking for fuller hair but not ready to invest in a hair transplant, try the following:
- Toppik Hair Building Fibers are easy to apply and make your hair look fuller instantly. They stay in your hair until your next shampoo and can be used every day.
- Visit your barber and try a new haircut. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these posts on the hottest haircuts for men with thinning hair and the best fall hair trends for women.
- There are also FDA-approved medications that can reduce your hair loss and help to regrow new hair. Talk to you doctor about Rogaine of Minoxidil.
A few simple tweaks to your hair care and styling routine can create the appearance of a $10,000 hair transplant surgery – and we think that’s a good deal! Whichever method you choose, the most important thing to remember is that inner confidence is more attractive than whatever hair you have.