A hair implant or hair transplant can be done to add more hair value to an area on your head that may be thinning or balding. By taking hair from thicker parts of the scalp, or other parts of the body. And then grafting it to the thinning or balding section of the scalp.
Worldwide, about 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience some form of hair loss. In that case, to address this, people often use over-the-counter products. Including topical treatments like minoxidil (Rogaine). In short, it’s another body restoration method to a former beauty glory.
Thinning hair refers to minor to moderate hair loss. Unlike widespread hair loss, thinning hair doesn’t necessarily cause baldness. It does, however, give the appearance of thinner spots of hair on your head.
The first transplant was performed in 1939 in Japan with single scalp hairs. In the following decades, physicians developed the “plug” technique. This involves transplanting large tufts of hair. Over time, surgeons began using mini- and micro-grafts to minimize the appearance of transplanted hair on the scalp.
What is Hair Transplant?
Thinning hair happens gradually, which means you have time to pinpoint the causes and figure out the best treatment measures. Out there, plenty of products promise to increase volume or help you grow more hair. But most aren’t all that effective. The best way to add or increase hair to an area can be with a hair transplant.
Hair transplant or simply hair transplantation is a surgical technique that removes hair follicles from one part of the body, called the ‘donor site’, to a bald or balding part of the body known as the ‘recipient site’. The technique is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness.
In this minimally invasive procedure, grafts containing hair follicles that are genetically resistant to balding (like the back of the head) are transplanted to the bald scalp.
In addition, hair transplantation can also be used to restore eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, chest hair, pubic hair and to fill in scars caused by accidents. Or even surgery such as face-lifts and previous hair transplants.
For your information, hair transplantation differs from skin grafting. In that grafts contain almost all of the epidermis and dermis surrounding the hair follicle. And many tiny grafts are transplanted rather than a single strip of skin.
Does Hair Transplant Work?
It’s important to realize, hair transplant don’t work for everyone. For one thing, they’re mainly used to restore hair if you’re balding or thinning naturally or have lost hair due to an injury.
Hair transplants are typically more successful than over-the-counter hair restoration products. But there are some factors to consider:
- Anywhere from 10 to 80 percent of the transplanted hair will fully grow back in an estimated three to four months.
- Like regular hair, the transplanted hair will thin over time.
- People with dormant hair follicles (sacs that usually contain hair beneath the skin but no longer grow hair) may have less effective transplants. But a 2016 study suggests that plasma therapy can help up to 75 percent. Or rather, with more of the transplanted hairs fully growing back.
Most transplants are done with your existing hair. So, they’re not as effective for treating people with:
- widespread thinning and baldness
- hair loss due to chemotherapy or other medications
- thick scalp scars from injuries
But how much does a hair transplant cost? There’s not a clear cut for the simple answer to this question. Since both treatment and recovery come at a price, and both have multiple factors that will affect the total cost of the transplant.
How does a Hair Transplant work?
Eventually, thinning hair may be caused by lifestyle habits, genetics, or both. Certain medical conditions may also lead to thinning hair.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day. Any more than this means you could be shedding more than you should. Lifestyle habits are also a key contributor to thinning hair.
- Over-treating your hair. This includes color treatments, perms, relaxers, and more.
- Using harsh hair products, such as extreme-hold hair sprays and gels. Temporary color can also be harsh for your hair.
- Wearing your hair up too tightly. Whether you’re wearing an up-do or pulling your hair up in a ponytail for working out, this can tug on your hair and break it from the follicles, causing thin spots over time.
- Not getting enough iron, folic acid, and other minerals in your diet. These all help follicles produce hair naturally.
- Experiencing uncontrolled stress. Stress is related to an uptick in hormones like cortisol. Too many stress hormones may kill off new hairs that are trying to grow from the hair follicles.
Thinning hair is sometimes confused with alopecia, which is widespread hair loss.
While thinning hair may eventually lead to hair loss, these two entities aren’t necessarily the same thing. Not forgetting, thinning hair may also be hereditary. And also, underlying medical considerations can lead to this condition.
You might have thinning hair if you:
- recently had a baby
- stop taking birth control pills
- are going through hormonal changes
- have lost more than 20 pounds in a short amount of time
- are being treated for an autoimmune disease
- have immune system deficiencies
- have a skin disorder or infection
Less commonly, thinning hair may be caused by:
- pulling at your own hair
- eating disorders
- a high fever
Hair Transplant Procedures
Simply put, a hair transplant takes hair you have and transfers it to an area where you don’t have hair. It’s typically taken from the back of your head, but can also be taken from other parts of your body.
There are two types of hair transplant procedures where your surgeon performs either the FUT or FUE procedures. Most cases of thinning hair are treatable at home. You can consider these 12 options of treating thinning hair at home and talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Before starting a transplant, your surgeon sterilizes the area where the hair will be removed. And then numbs it with a local anesthetic. You can also request sedation in order to stay asleep for the procedure.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
FUT is sometimes known as follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS). To perform a FUT procedure, your surgeon follows these steps:
- Using a scalpel, the surgeon removes a piece of your scalp, usually from the back of your head. The strip size is typically about 6 to 10 inches long but can stretch from ear to ear.
- They close the area where the scalp was removed with stitches.
- Your surgeon and their assistants separate the scalp strip into smaller pieces with a scalpel. They may split the piece up into as many as 2,000 smaller fragments, called grafts. Some of these grafts may contain only one hair each.
- Using a needle or blade, the surgeon makes small holes in your scalp where hair will be transplanted.
- The surgeon inserts hairs from the removed piece of scalp into the puncture holes (grafting step).
- They then cover the surgical sites with bandages or gauze.
The specific number of grafts you receive depends on the:
- type of hair you have
- size of transplant site
- quality (including thickness) of hair
- hair color
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
To perform an FUE procedure, your surgeon takes these steps:
- They shave off the hair on the back of your head.
- The surgeon then takes the individual follicles out of the scalp skin. You’ll see tiny marks where each follicle was removed.
- As with the FUT procedure, the surgeon makes small holes in your scalp and grafts hair follicles into the holes.
- They then cover the surgical site with bandages or gauze.
What about Recovery?
FUT and FUE may each take several hours to several days to complete. In part, this depends on the amount of work performed by the surgeon.
You will go home the same day of the procedure. And once the surgery is done, your surgeon carefully removes any bandages. The area may be swollen, so your surgeon might inject triamcinolone into the area to keep the swelling down.
You’ll likely feel pain or soreness at the transplant site as well as in the area where hair was taken from. So, for the next few days, your surgeon may prescribe:
- pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil)
- antibiotics to prevent infections
- anti-inflammatories, such as an oral steroid, to relieve swelling
- medications such as finasteride (Propecia) or minoxidil (Rogaine) to help stimulate hair growth
Of course, don’t worry if some hairs fall out. This is part of the process.
The transplanted hair may not grow much or seamlessly match the hair around it for a few months. Below are some aftercare tips for hair transplant surgery:
- Wait a few days after the surgery to wash your hair. Only use mild shampoos for the first few weeks.
- You should be able to return to work or normal activities in about 3 days. But, don’t press a brush or comb down over the new grafts for about 3 weeks.
- Also, don’t wear any hats or pullover shirts and jackets until your doctor says it’s OK.
- Lastly, don’t exercise for about a week.
How much does Hair Transplant cost?
Because hair transplants are cosmetic procedures, health insurance won’t pay for the procedure. Aftercare medications may also add to the final cost.
In reality, the cost of a hair transplant is highly variable and typically ranges anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. These costs are often all out of pocket. Whereby, the final costs may depend on:
- the extent of the transplant procedure
- availability of surgeons in your area
- experience of the surgeon
- the chosen surgical technique
Most insurance companies consider a hair transplant a cosmetic procedure. And that’s why the cost of hair transplants is dependent on many different factors. More often, these variant factors include:
1. Where you live:
The relative cost of living in the area and the number of nearby surgeons offering the procedure can affect what a surgeon charges.
2. The type of procedure you choose:
There are two different types of hair transplants: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
Each has a different cost.
3. The skill of your surgeon:
This is a common correlation: If your surgeon is considered to be one of the best, they may charge more.
At the same time, higher rates don’t always mean superior skill, so do your research carefully.
4. How much hair you want to be transplanted:
Wanting a few patches added will cost significantly less than wanting to increase hair across the entire scalp.
5. Travel costs:
This isn’t something that your doctor will charge, but it’s still a cost you should consider. Sometimes you have to travel to find the best specialists, and you should consider these costs when deciding if you can afford the procedure.
In addition to treatment costs, there are other potential recovery costs that you should take into account. These potential recovery costs include:
- pain medication during the immediate recovery
- anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling at the surgical site
- antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection
All in all, if you experience any complications, the most common of which is an infection, you’ll need to treat it. This can be a source of additional expense, including the costs for medications and doctor’s visits.
Alternatives to hair transplants
Always remember, if you’re waiting for your hair transplant or are unable to afford it, there are several non-surgical alternatives you can use in the meantime. These remedies aren’t as effective, but they can help. Other alternatives to hair transplants include:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine), which is available for purchase without a prescription.
- Finasteride (Propecia) tablets, which can provide results in treating male and female pattern baldness between three to six months of continual use.
- Low-level laser therapy, which can treat hair loss in both genders by stimulating cellular activity. It promotes hair retention and can strengthen weak hair.
Before I conclude, there’s no doubt about it; hair transplants don’t come at a small cost. Especially, considering they may not work as well as you’d like. And if you have the funds and decide you want to invest in a hair transplant, take some time to do your research.
You can as well get multiple consultations to get an idea of cost and find the surgeon that’s right for you. Just remember that hiring the right surgeon, even if more expensive, can help you get the best results possible.
Also, keep in mind, when it comes to initial treatment costs, many clinics may offer payment or financing plans to help make the treatment accessible to more people. Below are more useful and related to the topic links;
- What is Finasteride?
- Here are 12 Ways to Stop Hair Thinning
- Minoxidil Topical Uses, Side Effects & Warnings
- Medicinal Herbs For Your Kitchen Garden
- What is Fitness Health? 5 Simple Tips for Our Well-being
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