Hair loss is a common condition that affects many people around the world — 60% of men and 50% of women to be precise. To address this problem, those experiencing hair loss will often use over-the-counter products including expensive shampoos and topical treatments. However, these are often ineffective. The only way you can truly restore hair for a lifetime is with hair transplant surgery.
A hair transplant will be carried out to restore hair in the parts of your head or body where thinning or balding has occurred. It’s done by extracting hair from thicker parts of the scalp or other areas and grafting or transporting it to bald sections of the scalp. To help you learn more about these procedures, we’ve covered everything you need to know about hair transplant surgeries.
5 hair transplant facts to get you started
If you’re interested in getting a hair transplant, there are a few facts you need to know before committing to the surgery. Most of the following will be covered in this guide or during your free consultation from a reputable clinic.
- Surgeons can only work with what you have - If you have bald patches or a receding hairline, hair from other parts of the head can be used for the transplant. However, if you’re completely bald or don’t have a sufficient donor area, you will most likely not be eligible for surgery.
- You can treat your transplanted hair like normal hair - You don’t need to use different products on your transplanted hair. Once you’ve followed the aftercare instructions, your transplanted hair can be treated just like normal hair.
- The results will be permanent - A hair transplant is a permanent treatment which is why you need to think carefully about your decision before you make it. The right surgeon and clinic can play a huge role in the results.
- Any costs will be worthwhile - The permanent results alongside the confidence boost and success rate of a hair transplant make the costs worthwhile. The procedure can be expensive, but you’ll save money when compared to temporary solutions like hair care and hairpieces in the long run.
- Every person is different - There are different types of hair transplants and something that will work for one person may not work for another. Your type of hair, cause of hair loss and the extent of hair loss are just some of the factors that can influence your treatment plan.
Different types of hair transplants
If you’re interested in hair restoration, there are different types of hair transplant surgeries you should be aware of; FUT and FUE. The best surgery for you will be determined by your hair loss and preferences.
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
FUT is one of the older methods of hair transplantation, yet is still a common procedure. It involves a strip of your scalp being removed via an incision, usually from the back of your head. The size of the strip is typically 6 to 10 inches long and the open wound will be closed with stitches.
The scalp strip will be separated into smaller pieces, called grafts, which will be later transplanted as new hair. Some of these grafts will contain as little as one hair, while others may contain three or more. The surgeon will then make small holes in your scalp and will manually insert the hairs from the grafts into the puncture holes. Once completed, the surgical site will be covered with gauze or bandages.
The number of grafts you receive will depend on your hair type, the size of the transplant site, your hair quality and even the colour.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
FUE is the more popular method for a hair transplant. It’s less invasive and leaves less scarring compared to FUT. Due to this, patients often recover faster and the results will be of better quality, especially as the follicles are less likely to be damaged with this method.
When carrying out this procedure, the surgeon will shave off the hair on the back of your head and take individual follicles out of the skin on your scalp with a precise Micro Punch instrument. This leads to the appearance of small dots on the head where the follicles were removed after surgery. Like FUT, the surgeon will make small incisions in your scalp and graft the hair follicles into them before bandaging the site.
Again, the number of grafts you require will be determined by several factors and will influence the cost of your hair transplant. Due to the lack of scarring, better results and higher success rate, FUE is typically more expensive than FUT.
Eligibility for a hair transplant
Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for a hair transplant. Your hair and scalp characteristics, as well as your age and the reason for your hair loss, will also play a part in your eligibility for a hair transplant. The best candidates will fit the following criteria.
- Hair loss due to male or female pattern baldness for a minimum of five years — beyond class 3 on the Norwood Scale.
- Those with realistic expectations and who understand that they may continue to lose hair after surgery — even if prescription medication is being taken to reduce it.
- People with a stabilised hair loss pattern and want to restore hair to look younger — mainly those who’ve been badling over many years.
- Men and women who have hair loss due to trauma or burns and cosmetic procedures. For example, scarring from facelifts can cause hair loss.
People with low hair density, diffuse patterned alopecia, a diseased donor area or a lack of patience and funds make poor candidates for a hair transplant. You can learn more about what makes you a good candidate for a hair transplant here.
Effectiveness of hair transplants
In most cases, hair transplants will be more successful compared to over-the-counter hair restoration products. However, there are some factors that you should take into consideration.
- The amount of transplanted hair that will fully grow back after 3-4 months can be anywhere around 10% to 80%.
- Just like normal hair, transplanted hair can become thinner as time goes by.
- Those with dormant hair follicles — sacs that contain hair but no longer grow it — could have less effective results.
While hair transplants are highly effective treatments, they won’t work for everyone. Most transplants are carried out on existing hair, so they don’t work well for people who have:
- Widespread thinning or baldness.
- Hair loss due to medications or chemotherapy.
- Thick scalp scars due to injuries.
However, if you’re a good candidate for a hair transplant and you choose a good surgeon and reputable clinic, the results and the costs will be extremely worthwhile.
How much the surgery costs
Due to it being a cosmetic surgery, you can’t get a hair transplant on the NHS. The cost of your surgery will vary between individuals. In the UK, it can start at as little as £1,000 and go as high as £30,000. The type of procedure, the extent of your hair loss and the reputability of the surgeon, the team and their clinic will influence the cost of your hair transplant.
Any credible clinic will offer a free consultation. Here, you will be able to get an accurate estimate of the price of the operation. Find out how much a hair transplant at FUE Clinics will cost by visiting our pricing page.
Recovering from a hair transplant
Recovery from a hair transplant is often quick and most people can return to work after around 2-3 days. For the first 2 weeks after your surgery, you need to be extra cautious with your transplant area. Your grafts won’t be secure, which will put them at risk of damage and infection.
Some aftercare tips you should follow after your procedure include:
- Avoid touching the grafts for the first few days. Any bandages can be removed 2 to 5 days after surgery.
- Start washing your hair gently with a mild shampoo after a week.
- Remove any dissolvable stitching after 10 to 14 days.
- Avoid brushing or combing the new grafts for around 3 weeks.
- Be prepared for transplanted hair to fall out after a few weeks, but this will grow back after around 3-6 months.
- Wait to see the full results of your surgery 12 to 18 months later.
You should also avoid exercise for at least a week and intense exercise for a month. And don’t wear hats or pullover jackets and shirts until your surgeon says you can. Your surgeon will provide you with a detailed list of instructions for you to follow after your procedure to ensure you get the best possible results from your hair transplant.
You will be given some medication to deal with the pain or soreness after your surgery, which is common. Some of the medications may include:
- Ibuprofen or other pain medications.
- Antibiotics to prevent infections.
- Anti-inflammatories to relieve swelling, like oral steroids.
- Medication to stimulate hair growth.
Risks and side effects
Just like any treatment, there is a range of risks and side effects to expect after a hair transplant. Some of the common side effects include:
- An achy, swollen or tight scalp for a few days.
- Temporary scabbing at the surgical site.
- A single scar or many tiny scars depending on the procedure.
Side effects that you should keep an eye on and speak to your doctor about if they don’t improve or worsen over time include:
- Signs of infection — pain, redness or pus
- Crust or pus around the surgical site
- Inflammation of hair follicles
- Loss of sensation around the surgical site
- Hair that doesn’t match the surrounding hair
- Signs of hair loss and balding
The surgeon should explain the likeliness of experiencing the above and ways they can be treated. You’ll also have follow-up appointments to check you’re recovering as you should.
What to do if you have problems
If you experience any unexpected symptoms or severe pain, then you should contact your clinic and see your surgeon as soon as possible. The same goes for those who aren’t happy with their results or how the procedure was carried out.
If you have concerns about your care, then you should contact the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Or if you want to make a complaint about a doctor, then get in touch with the General Medical Council (GMC). The right clinic and surgeon will reduce the risk of mistakes or undesirable results.
You should start your hair restoration journey with our guide covering the top 10 tips for finding the right hair transplant clinic.
FUE Clinics is here to help
If you’re looking for a reputable clinic that has revolutionised the way healthcare providers deliver precision, then FUE Clinics is the place for you. The results and continuity of care exceed expectations and are something you can truly depend on as a patient. Our experienced surgeons treat a wide range of conditions that lead to or cause hair loss.
We have fantastic state-of-the-art technology that can restore hair on the head and in other areas, like the beard and eyebrows. You can read our FAQ section to learn more about our clinics, or contact us today and make an appointment for your free and honest, no-obligation consultation.