When done correctly, hair transplants can improve a person’s appearance drastically. In the process, they can also raise patient confidence tremendously. However, old pluggy hairline and doll-like images are typically what most people continue to associate with hair transplantation procedures.
Modern Day Hair Transplants
If you go to an experienced reputable surgeon, modern hair transplants are undetectable and often of an exceptional quality. There are far more satisfied hair transplant customers in comparison to dissatisfied ones. On online hair loss forums, you can find thousands of excellent hair restoration related testimonials with photos of before and after transformations.
FUE versus FUT
Until the turn of the century, almost all hair transplants performed in the world were in the form of strip hair transplants (also called FUT aka follicular unit transplants). In such hair transplants, a strip of hair is taken from the back of a patient’s scalp and individual follicular units from that strip are extracted under magnification. These grafts are then transplanted to the front of the patient’s scalp.
However, over the past decade, follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplants have become much more popular than strip hair transplants, and some people even think that strip hair transplants will become extinct in the coming years. The biggest advantage of a FUE hair transplant is that it leaves no strip scar at the back of someone’s scalp since you are no longer removing any strip of hair bearing skin and stitching back the gap.
Is a Hair Transplant Permanent?
While hair transplants are advertised as being permanent, a more reasonable assumption should be that the transplanted hair will last for around 2-3 decades depending on your age and genetics. The so called “permanent” donor hair at the back of one’s scalp (which is moved to the front during a hair transplant) is not always permanent, and thins at least somewhat in most men with age.
If you are lucky, it will only thin 20-30 percent by the time you are 60. My own grandfather lost all the hair in his “permanent” donor zone at the back of his scalp by the age of 60. I have even seen some young 40 year old men with no donor hair left whatsoever. Nevertheless, 2-3 decades of permanent hair is more than enough to get you through till there is a hair loss cure, even in the eyes of most pessimists.
Hair Transplant Cost
The cost of a hair transplant varies drastically depending on:
- Surgeon used. Experienced and popular ones will usually charge more.
- Technique used. FUE is much more expensive than FUT on a per graft basis.
- Quantity of grafts moved to the frontal and crown regions of one’s scalp. Different surgeons will have different opinions on how many grafts need to be moved.
- Whether any body hair transplants (BHT) are involved. Those are even more expensive than FUE.
- Country where the transplant is taking place. Hair transplants cost much less in developing countries, but come with the associated risks.
For much more detail on the above points and more, make sure to read my post on the cost of a hair transplant. Also make sure to read my post on getting a hair transplant in a foreign country such as Turkey. Much lower costs, but often also much riskier.
Robotic Hair Transplants
One of the more recent trends in the hair transplant industry has been the increasing use of a robot (ARTAS) to perform individual follicular unit extractions from the back of patient scalps. I have mentioned ARTAS many times on this blog in the past and you should read through all those posts. In the future, it is likely that ARTAS will also be able to place hair follicles into the front of patient scalps, implying a fully automated hair transplant.
At present, most hair restoration patients would not trust a robot to be able to provide the same level of artistic skills that a human surgeon can in designing the hairline. However, even as recently as 2010, no-one would have imagined that a robot could reliably extract 1000s of follicular units from the safe donor zone, yet by 2014 there were over 100 ARTAS robots in use around the world at hair transplant clinics.
Hair Transplantation in Women
While much of this post has focused on hair transplants in men, women are also good candidates for hair transplants. Unlike men, who bald in a defined manner (see Norwood scale), women tend to see general thinning all over their scalp (see Ludwig scale).
Therefore the goals and techniques use for male versus female hair transplants are very different from each other. If you are a female who is looking to get a hair transplant, it is advisable to be especially selective and find a quality experienced hair transplant surgeon who has significant experience in treating women.
There a number of online resources related to hair transplants that are worth visiting during the course of your research:
- ASDS Hair Restoration Information
- ISHRS — Has over 1,000 physician members from across the world.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons