Hair loss in both men and women can be an incredibly emotional and painful condition to face, though it’s far from uncommon. In fact, about 60% of men and 50% of women suffer from hair loss. While many will turn to over-the-counter remedies, others in search of a longer-lasting and more effective solution are likely to explore undergoing hair restoration. This procedure, also known as a hair transplant, has evolved significantly since surgeons first began performing hair restorations in the U.S. in the 1950s. There are a variety of factors that can cause hair loss, though the most common reason involves age and genetics. A receding hairline or bald spots in men and thinning hair in women are typical signs of male-pattern and female-pattern baldness. Changes in your health, hormones, or the consumption of certain medications can also cause hair loss. Depending on the source of your hair loss, a hair restoration procedure may be the best way to replenish areas of your scalp that are now thinning or bald.

  • Who is a Good Candidate for Hair Restoration?

    There are no real age, gender, or race barriers when it comes to hair restoration. However, most physicians won’t perform the procedure on children as hair loss in adolescents is typically a symptom of an underlying issue that needs specific treatment.

    There are two main factors that make someone a good candidate for hair restoration:

    • Your scalp must have enough healthy hair to allow for a transplant of that hair to another area.
    • You must be able to grow hair on the section of your scalp that is thinning.

    On average, we lose about 100 hairs per day. However, that loss is not usually noticeable on someone with healthy hair growth since new growth quickly replaces the lost hair. If your hair follicle is damaged or this regular pattern of shedding becomes disrupted, you are more likely to develop hair loss and be a candidate for hair restoration.

  • What Are the Types of Hair Restoration Available

    Decades ago, surgeons placed sections of hair plugs in thinning areas, which created an unnatural spreading of new hair. Fortunately, more innovative procedures are now the standard, and patients are seeing great results with two main types of procedures:

    • Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)—This procedure involves a surgeon removing a piece of the scalp, typically between six and 10-inches long, before creating a series of small sections of that strip called grafts. Hairs from those grafts become inserted in small holes created by the surgeon in areas of your scalp that are thinning. You may also see this procedure referred to as follicular unit strip surgery, or FUSS.
    • Follicular unit extraction (FUE)—With this procedure, surgeons will shave the hair from the back of your head. Next, they remove the follicles from the skin and create new holes in the scalp for graft insertion.

    Characteristics of your hair, including its color, type, and thickness, play a part in how many grafts you may need. This can also determine the length of the procedure, which can stretch across several days in severe cases.

  • What to Expect During Recovery From Hair Restoration

    Given the nature of a surgeon’s actions during a FUT or FUE, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that your scalp will be sore following your hair restoration. At the conclusion of the procedure, your surgeon will wrap the surgical site with bandages or gauze, which you should keep on for several days post-operatively. It’s normal for patients to ask for some mild pain medication, and surgeons may also prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatories to help with the healing.

    Here’s what a doctor might tell you about a typical timeline after your hair restoration procedure:

    • 2 to 5 days post-op – Most people can return to work within this window.
    • 7 days post-op – Resuming exercise is generally accepted.
    • 2 to 3 weeks post-op – The recently transplanted hair will fall out. Don’t panic—this is normal.
    • 3 weeks post-op – You can begin gently using a brush or comb over the new grafts.
    • 6 to 9 months post-op – Most people notice up to 60% of new hair growth during this time, though it can happen earlier.

    Your surgeon may also prescribe medications like finasteride or minoxidil to help accelerate the growth process. These drugs are commonly known commercially as Propecia and Rogaine.

  • What Are the Risks or Side Effects of Hair Restoration?

    It’s important that you understand that hair restoration is a surgery, so there are some risks that you may encounter. Bleeding, infection, and scarring are all possibilities. As far as the success of the treatment, there are no guarantees that it will work or that the new hair growth will be as natural as you hoped, so that’s also a risk you must accept.

    Other side effects that you may receive include:

    • Drainage from around the wounds on the surgical site
    • Scalp swelling, irritation, and itching
    • A loss of sensation in the scalp
    • Continuing to lose your hair

    Some patients also experience “shock loss,” or a byproduct of hair restoration in which some of your original, healthy hair falls out. In most cases, this is a temporary condition.

  • What Does Hair Restoration Cost?

    Unfortunately, insurance plans usually will not cover hair restoration because they consider it a cosmetic procedure. Most estimates peg the cost to be between $4,000 and $15,000, though medications required after surgery can add to that total

  • How Effective is Hair Restoration

    Despite the sticker shock some may have over the cost of hair restoration, the success rate of the procedure is sometimes enough for people to overlook the financial component.  Some studies say that as much as 80% of the transplanted hair will fully grow back in as few as three to four months. However, you should know that hair restoration does not work for everyone. For a variety of reasons, including the presence of thick scalp scars or widespread baldness, hair restoration may not be an effective course of treatment for you.

  • How to Find Someone to Perform Your Hair Restoration

    Being able to complete a hair restoration is a unique skill, and you should only consult with someone who is a licensed, board-certified surgeon. During your consultation, don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon about their experience in this field and if they have a before-and-after portfolio of photos they can share.