Getting a hair transplant is a major commitment! You’ll be spending a good amount of time, money, and energy to get the best treatment possible and maximize positive results.
Leading up to the procedure, you should seek to understand exactly what is involved in the process of a hair transplant, and get your expectations aligned with reality. Of all the questions folks have about the procedure, one of the most common addresses hair loss.
Does a hair transplant stop hair loss in its tracks, or is that not a realistic expectation?
Today we’re going to get to the bottom of this debate and look into a few other questions about what a hair transplant really is.
The Goal of the Surgery
No clinic in the world should tell you that a hair transplant can reverse the biological processes that factor into hair loss. The American Academy of Dermatology provides an honest assessment of the surgery.
If you come across a doctor that claims to have secret knowledge of hair loss reversal via surgery, do yourself a favor and politely decline their services! There is a lot of complex science behind hair loss, and one afternoon of surgery can only do so much to combat the forces of nature. Hormonal levels, family genetics, environment, and several other variables all play into the severity and speed of hair loss in both men and women, and surgery cannot prevent this.
Of course, a hair transplant procedure such as a Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) or a Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) can give you life-changing results relatively quickly, so do not discount the fact that these surgeries can do the job.
Here’s a look at what each procedure aims to accomplish:
- Follicular Unit Transplant: Often considered the standard hair transplant method, the surgeon will identify a strip of hair from the back of the patient’s neck, which contains hairs that grow faster, stronger, and healthier. These hairs are precisely removed and transferred to the desired implant area.
- Follicular Unit Excision: Seen as a less invasive method, the surgeon draws from a variety of small donor areas from the back of the neck instead of a linear strip. This allows the patient to wear their hair shorter in the back with no visible scar.
As you can see, each procedure is excellent in their own right, but the goal is largely the same and just describes how the hair is harvested, not implanted. The implantation process is the same with both types of procedures.
The success of the surgery will depend on how advanced a patient’s balding may be, the quality of the instruments available at the clinic, and of course, the degree of expertise of the surgeon.
Simply remember what the objective is, and what it isn’t. Having the right expectations is key to any pursuit, and it is key to recognize the possibilities and limitations of hair transplant surgery.
Maintaining Your Gains
By understanding the science behind hair transplants and the potential limitations of the surgery itself, it’s important to learn what you CAN do to ensure your investment pays off.
The truth is that without the proper post-op care and an ongoing conversation with your doctor about hair-loss prevention medication, you may end up back where you started. Taking extreme caution in the days and weeks following surgery is essential, as you will want the newly transplanted hair to fully integrate into the scalp.
Being reckless by swimming, playing contact sports, or simply wearing a tight hat too often is ill-advised, and many people have jeopardized the progress they’ve made with surgery by not adhering strictly to the post-op instructions provided. Even if it means taking a few extra weeks off the basketball court or the pool, you will be glad you held off from a bit of fun. Your follicles will thank you for the restraint!
There’s a couple of facts to keep in mind about maintaining your new hair follicle gains.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the outcome of these surgeries is “never completely predictable”, and there is always a real chance that some of the grafts will not “take” in their new location on the scalp.However, this in generally only a handful of grafts.
Do a quick search on our blog to see the hundreds of stellar before-and-after galleries that patients have submitted over the years, and consider making it a part of your game plan.
Having Multiple Procedures Done
Many men and women have undergone hair transplant surgery multiple times in order to continue the fight against ongoing hair loss.
There are a few tough truths here that we need to address regarding repeat surgeries.
First of all, the price can add up, and so can the time investment. Although most hair transplant procedures can typically be done in one day, there is often a lot of upfront consultation and post-op discussion that surrounds each surgery.
The price of each surgery also may fluctuate based on the difficulty of the procedure, and how much donor hair remains on the back of the patient’s scalp.
If the patient and surgeon elect to seek other new forms of hair transplant methodology, that may require investment in new technology or the involvement of another professional. These are additional factors that can add up to a big bill at the end of the day.
Whether or not you return for more surgery will also depend on your other options, including the prescription of oral or topical medication You can speak to your surgeon to find out if their are options they recommend. For some folks, having a hair transplant every few years is no problem at all, and they are happy to put in a bit of extra time and money to maintain their look, even if there is a minor decline in the overall health and density.
Exactly how often is the average length of time between each transplant? It all depends on the patient, but science seems to suggest that using body or beard hair makes a difference in the overall satisfaction with surgery, especially in follow-up procedures.
According to data from the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, folks who combined body, beard, and scalp hair for their transplant game plan were happy with returning to the clinic every 2.9 years.
The average satisfaction score was rated at 8.3 out of 10, with a sample size of 79 participants. That is certainly a bit higher than average, so this approach is something to consider if you are looking for a new angle.
Like we said originally, expectations count for a lot when you consider opting for a hair transplant of any kind.
The best surgeons in the world will be 100% upfront and honest about how successful they believe the operation will be, and will provide you with alternatives if they think those may yield superior results.
Knowledge is power when entering any consultation, so be sure to read up as much as you can about the topic and understand that there is never a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of hair loss surgery or medication.
Ultimately, a hair transplant will give you new, permanent hair in the locations it is transplanted. However, it will not stop hair loss of existing hair.
Remember to stay on top of your post-op care, keep the dialogue going with your doctor and don’t forget to check out our site, where we regularly post new information about hair loss and the hair transplantation procedures available to fight it!