Today, it is possible to achieve natural-looking results thanks to a major breakthrough. Most surgeons now transplant hair healthy, a few at a time. This eliminates the unnatural doll hair that patients saw in the 70s and 80s.
Back then, sections of hair called hair plugs were placed in the thinning area. Over time, hair plugs became quite noticeable.
Improvements in hairline creation and hair placement in thinning areas also help create natural-looking results.
Thanks to these advances, the results can look so natural that a barber or stylist can't tell you've done anything.
Like good health and youth, most of us take our locks for granted – that is, until they're gone.
Hair transplant before and after
For many people, a hair transplant it can help bring back what appears to be a full – or at least fuller – head of hair.
If losing weight or going bald really bothers you, the procedure can be a way to feel more confident about your appearance. But first talk to your doctor about what you can expect during and after surgery.
Results largely depend on the surgeon you select.
While these advances are giving patients natural-looking results, the outcome still largely depends on the surgeon you select. You want to choose a doctor who understands hair loss and performs hair transplants regularly.
Dermatologists specialize in conditions that affect our skin, hair, and nails, so they know a lot about hair loss. Many also perform hair transplants and can tell you if you are a good candidate for a hair transplant.
Who is a good candidate for a hair transplant?
Men and women of all races can be good candidates for a hair transplant.
To be considered for a hair transplant, you need two things:
- Enough healthy hair on your scalp that can be transplanted to the area that needs hair
- The ability to grow hair in the thinning area of the scalp
During a consultation with a dermatologist, you can find out if you have both. A dermatologist will do a thorough examination of the scalp.
To find out why you have hair loss, you may also need a blood test. This can check for things going on in your body that could be causing your hair loss.
Some patients need a procedure called a scalp biopsy. Your dermatologist can quickly and easily take whatever is needed for the scalp biopsy during your appointment.
If the exam and tests show that you are a good candidate for a hair transplant, your dermatologist will be able to tell you what results you can expect. A full head of hair may be unrealistic, but a full head of hair can be the goal.
What happens during a hair transplant?
You can expect a hair transplant to take between four and eight hours. If you are having a large amount of hair transplant, you may need to return for a few hours the next day.
Most patients remain awake throughout the surgery and only need an anesthetic that numbs the scalp. Some patients also take a mild sedative to help them relax.
Surgery starts with your dermatologist removing healthy hair.
For natural-looking results, your dermatologist can remove healthy hair by cutting a strip of skin with healthy hair from the scalp or removing individual hairs.
The second option takes much longer, but avoids leaving a long, narrow scar on the scalp. This can be beneficial if you prefer close haircuts like haircuts.
Before the surgeon can transplant the hairs, the technicians need to prepare the removed hairs and the surgeon must prepare the scalp for the transplant.
Depending on the number of hairs to be transplanted, two to three hair transplant team members can help get healthy hairs to the area that needs hair.
After all the hairs have been transplanted, your scalp will be bandaged and you will be given home care instructions.
Expectations and Recovery
After surgery, your scalp may be very sensitive. You may need to take pain relievers for several days. Your surgeon will have you wear bandages over your scalp for at least a day or two.
They may also prescribe an antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory for you to take for several days. Most people can return to work 2 to 5 days after the operation.
Within 2 to 3 weeks after the surgery, the transplanted hair will fall out, but you should start to notice new growth within a few months. Most people will see 60% new hair growth after 6 to 9 months.
Some surgeons prescribe the hair growth drug minoxidil (Rogaine) to improve hair growth after transplantation, but it is unclear how well it works.
Treatment Risks and Costs
The price of a hair transplant will largely depend on the amount of hair you are moving, but it usually ranges from $4.000 to $15.000. Most insurance plans do not cover this.
Around the time new locks start to grow, some people have inflammation or infection of the hair follicles, called folliculitis.
Antibiotics and compresses can alleviate the problem. It is also possible to suddenly lose some of the original hair in the area where you got the new hair, called shock loss. But most of the time, it's not permanent.
Talk to your doctor about these risks and how much improvement you are likely to get from the surgery. They can help you decide if it's a good fit for you.
When do patients see the results of a hair transplant?
Most patients see results between six and nine months after surgery. For some patients, it takes 12 months.
It is important to know that between two and eight weeks after the surgery, the transplanted hair will fall out. This is normal. In the third month, the hair may appear thinner than before the transplant. Again, this is normal.
Medicine can help you maintain results
For the best results from a hair transplant, your dermatologist may recommend medications that treat hair loss. Medicine helps because hair loss and thinning can continue, even after a hair transplant.
Medicine can prevent or delay further hair loss and thinning. By doing so, you can maintain your natural-looking results for years to come.