Hey Doc, no surgeon would give an approximate number of grafts you may need so that I can calculate the costs of a hair transplant. I found various hair calculators on different web-sites. How good are these in answering that question for me?
There is a science called multi-variant analysis based upon our ability to take complex variables and put them together to get a better understanding of complexity. Estimating the number of hair grafts for a balding pattern is such a complex problem, as the variables include less than pristine numbers. The variables include:
- Thickness of the hair shaft (fine, medium, or coarse)
- Color of the hair (white, blond, red, brown, black)
- Color of the skin (very light, various shades of olive, ruddy, pigmented from light to dark)
- Character of the hair (wavy – straight)
- Density of the donor hair
- Degree of hair loss in the patterns under analysis
- Size of the balding area
- Size of the head
- Looseness of the donor scalp (for strip surgery)
- FOX biopsy status (for FUE)
To show the difficulty of the analysis, lets look at an example “average” head size, white skin, and black very fine hair. Let’s make our patient a Class 3A pattern (see diagram at right). With very fine hair, to fill in this area, it may take between 5000-6000 follicular units, but by just increasing the hair shaft thickness from fine to medium coarse, the same size area may only require about 2500 follicular units, substantially less than the same size area with very fine hair. Even with that said, the way the hair is distributed by the surgeon will dictate what the final results will look like. The calculators offered for estimating hair graft numbers clearly do not apply, because the multi-variant analysis is far too complex.
With that said, let take what the surgeon does as an art form and you are his canvas. Like a good artist, a good surgeon can get the best out of his working material… but unlike a canvas, what you get from a hair transplant surgeon is with you for the rest of your life. You will see it in the mirror every morning and your wife, children, or the business people you deal with will also see it. If they even look at your hair, your cover is blown and it may not be repairable. So just how many grafts do you need? So while these online calculators might be a fun marketing gimmick, the answers are clearly not calculable by a simple graft calculator.