Losing your hair can be a very stressful time in your life — and it happens to more people than you might think. Around 60% of men and 50% of women around the world are affected by hair loss, which makes this problem a very common occurrence. To address it, many people who experience hair loss will use over-the-counter products consisting of topical treatments and expensive shampoos. While these can prevent further hair loss, they won’t work for everyone and certainly don’t restore your hair.
A hair transplant is one of the most effective ways to restore hair to your scalp and body that have experienced thinning and balding. If you’re struggling with hair loss and would like to know more about treatments, our ultimate guide will give you the information you need to get started.
Hair Transplant Surgery
If you’re interested in restoring your hair, opting for a hair transplant will provide a permanent solution to balding. There are different types of hair transplant surgeries you should consider; FUT and FUE. The best option for you will depend on your hair loss and preferences.
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
FUT is an older method of hair transplantation, however, it’s still a common procedure. It involves removing a strip of your scalp via an incision, usually from the back of your head. The size of the strip is usually 6-10 inches long. Surgical sutures are required to close the open wound.
Next, hair follicles will be isolated and harvested from the scalp strip. These are called grafts and will be used to transplant new hair during the procedure. Some of these grafts will contain as little as one hair, while others may contain three or more. The surgeon will make small incisions in your scalp to manually insert the grafts one at a time. Once completed, the surgical site will be covered with gauze or bandages.
The number of grafts you require will depend on your hair type, the size of the transplant site, your hair quality and even the colour.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
FUE hair transplants are precise procedures that require a great deal of skill, precision and training from surgeons.
FUE is a more popular hair transplant procedure, due to being less invasive and leaving fewer scars compared to FUT. Patients often recover faster and the results of the transplant are usually higher quality, especially as the follicles are less likely to get damaged with this method.
When carrying out an FUE procedure, the surgeon starts by shaving off the hair on the back of your head. They will 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 hair follicles were removed during surgery. Just like FUT, the surgeon will make small incisions in your scalp and transplant the hair follicles into them individually.
Again, the number of grafts the surgeon will require from you will be determined by several factors. The number of grafts will also influence the cost of your hair transplant.
Cost of Treatment
A hair transplant is categorised as a cosmetic surgery, which means you can’t get this procedure funded by the NHS. The cost of the procedure will vary depending on the extent of your hair loss, the type of procedure you go for, the experience and reputation of your surgeon, their team and the clinic itself. In the UK, prices start as little as £1000 and can be as high as £30,000 or more.
Any trustworthy clinic will offer a free consultation. During your appointment, you will be able to get an accurate estimate of the price of the operation and what to expect before and after the surgery. Find out the costs of a hair transplant at FUE Clinics by visiting our pricing page.
In the majority of cases, hair transplants are often more successful than over-the-counter hair restoration products. However, there are several factors that you need to keep in mind.
- The amount of transplanted hair that will fully grow back after 3-4 months can be anywhere in the region of 10% to 80%
- Less effective results are expected in those with dormant hair follicles — sacs that currently contain hair but will no longer produce any more if the hair falls out
While hair transplants are very effective procedures, they won’t work for everyone. Most transplants will involve harvesting 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
If you’re a good candidate for a hair transplant and you choose an exemplary surgeon and esteemed clinic, the results and the costs of the surgery will be hugely worthwhile.
Best Candidate for a Hair Transplant
Whether it’s your age, your hair type, or your scalp characteristics, there are several reasons why you may not be suitable for a hair transplant. To help you understand your eligibility, 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.
- People with realistic expectations and people who understand that they may continue to lose hair after their surgery — even if prescription medication is being taken to reduce it.
- People 25+ in age with a stabilised hair loss pattern and want to restore their 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.
What to Expect from Surgery
Recovery and Aftercare
Recovery from your hair transplant should be quick and simple. The surgeons and aftercare team will give you important information and advice before and after your surgery. This will help you prepare for the recovery process and how to look after yourself.
Your surgeon should stay in touch with you and keep an eye on the healing process. Some aftercare instructions you should expect include:
- Avoid washing your hair for at least 3 days after treatment
- Once you start washing your hair, use gentle, unscented shampoos for a few weeks
- Take a few days off to help you speed up recovery and healing
- Wait at least 3 weeks to start brushing or combing your hair
- Don’t wear hats, beanies or clothing that covers your head until your doctor says so
- Avoid strenuous exercise for at least a week after surgery
Just like any other surgical procedure, there are risks and complications associated with getting a hair transplant. Some of the common side effects associated with the procedure include:
These side effects may be uncomfortable but they should subside after a few days. If they persist or they get worse, you should contact the team at your clinic or your GP. While the right surgeon and clinic can drastically reduce any risks, it’s still vital to know the signs of potential complications for your own health and recovery.
While these side effects are rare, you should see your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Signs of infection such as redness, pain, or puss
- Drainage or crust at the surgery site
- Pain or swelling that won’t go away
- Follicle swelling (folliculitis)
- Bleeding from the surgical site
- Numbness or tingling where the surgery was done
- Hair growth that doesn’t match surrounding hair
- Continued balding or thinning after the transplant
Do Your Research
If you experience any unexpected symptoms or severe pain, or you’re unhappy with your results or the way the procedure was carried out, then you should contact your clinic and see your surgeon as soon as you can.
If you have genuine concerns in regards to the care you received, 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). To reduce the risk of mistakes or undesirable results, you should do your research and find a reputable and experienced surgeon and clinic.
See our guide on the top 10 tips for finding the right hair transplant clinic to start your hair restoration journey.
Non-Surgical Hair Loss Treatments
If, for whatever reason, you’re not a good candidate for a hair transplant or you’re not ready for the procedure, then it’s worth speaking to your doctor about non-surgical alternatives to help prevent hair loss and stimulate growth. While these won’t be as successful as a hair transplant, they can help boost your confidence in many ways.
Having a healthy diet is important for stimulating hair growth and preventing hair loss. Due to the expendable nature of our hair, eating too much or too little amounts of certain foods can lead to hair loss. Nutritional advice you should keep in mind includes:
- Always eat breakfast
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Eat enough protein
- Consume iron-rich foods
- Take additional vitamins
- Reduce dairy intake
Other lifestyle changes such as exercise, reducing everyday stress and massaging your scalp regularly can also be effective ways to reduce hair loss and encourage growth.
Many people resort to hair-stimulating tablets to tackle their hair loss. Using tablets and serums approved by the FDA, such as Propecia (Finasteride) is recommended.
For hair loss caused by medications or illness, taking a range of supplements in the form of vitamins and minerals, including biotin, zinc and iron, can help. Meanwhile, if you’re experiencing hereditary hair loss, taking pills with DHT-blockers could be a great preventative for further hair loss. Always consult your doctor before taking any hair growth supplements.
There are several topical hair loss products that come in foam or liquid form. These solutions are applied directly to the scalp. Aside from hair growth serums and shampoos, other types of topical hair loss products include:
- Topical anthralin - Commonly used for alopecia areata
- Topical tretinoin - Combined with minoxidil for male and female pattern baldness
- Topical minoxidil - is an over-the-counter medicine used for alopecia areata and male and female pattern baldness
It takes a few months to see the effects of these treatments, but they can be successful for some. Remember to consult your doctor before trying any topical solutions on your hair as certain people can experience adverse effects after use.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a type of regenerative medicine that’s used to promote body healing. From hair loss to joint pain, it can be used for a range of medical conditions and is one of the most effective forms of non-surgical hair restoration.
This therapy injects the client’s platelets from their blood sample into the scalp. This relatively new hair loss treatment uses different growth factors and proteins to stimulate hair growth and body healing. Those in their early stages of hair loss of the best candidates for this treatment.
Choose FUE Clinics
If you would like to get an FUE hair transplant or you just want to know more, FUE Clinics is here to help. We treat a range of conditions that lead to hair loss while revolutionising the way healthcare providers treat and deliver the best results and aftercare. We put care and precision first, so you can depend on them as a patient.
We have an impressive range of technology at FUE Clinics that can be used to restore hair to your head and other areas of your body. Learn more about what our clinics have to offer by looking through our FAQ section. If you like what you see, contact us today to make an appointment for a free and honest no-obligation consultation.