Are Hair Transplants For You?

Hair Transplants – the Official Guide

Hair transplants are becoming an increasingly popular solution to the problem of hair loss. The reason for this is that the techniques have matured significantly, and continue to evolve each year. Results are highly variable based upon the skill of the surgeon, and for this reason it is important that you only consider the transplant surgeons who have established their reputations as both ethical, and highly skilled at creating natural results.

This guide will present you with all the information you need to know about the before, the during, and after the procedure. As with any cosmetic surgery procedure, the hardest part is finding a surgeon you can trust, and who is an expert in their field. We’ve done that work for you. After you’ve finished learning all there is to know, the list of surgeons presented on this site is the only list you will need to select from. If you don’t find them here, we don’t recommend that you consider them for your procedure.

Should I use Treatments or Get a Hair Transplant?

This is the million dollar question, and the answer is the same for nearly everyone.  Every ethical hair transplant surgeon will recommend that you try the treatments approach first.  There are a couple reasons for this.  First, if you are experiencing hair loss as a male, it is a many-decades-long process.  If you get a hair transplant too early, your androgen-sensitive hairs will continue to fall out around the newly implanted hairs which will never fall out.   You may end up with a continually degrading appearance as a result.

Secondly, as with any surgical procedure, it is always recommended that you exhaust your other alternatives first.  Hair loss treatments are incredibly effective at halting further progression, and regrowing a decent amount if you use a core regimen of Propecia (Finasteride) and Rogaine (Minoxidil), and give it enough time.  Most ethical surgeons will even encourage their ideal transplant candidates to embark on, or continue a regimen of clinically proven treatments after the procedure.   The goal is simple:  hitting it from all angles, to maximize the density you can get naturally.

How Does a Hair Transplant Work?

First off, this is an outpatient procedure. That means that you’re in and out on the same day. No general anesthesia is required, so there is a significantly less-invasive element to the whole process.  It is however a fairly long procedure.  Depending on the approach you go with, it typically takes between 5 and 10 hours to complete.  Some do require completion on a followup visit the next day.

The logic is fairly straight-forward:  Hair that is immune to the effects of male or female pattern balding (typically found on the lower-back or sides of the scalp) is moved from that location (donor), into the thinning or balding areas of your scalp (recipient). From here, your own hair actually is implanted, takes root, and will continue to grow on its own, for the rest of your life.

Of course it’s not always that simple.  There are things to consider, such as what will happen to the balding areas full of androgen-sensitive hairs after you’ve inserted thousands of androgen-immune hairs all around them?  How will my hairline look?  What techniques are used to improve the natural-appearance of the final result?  What about scarring?  How long does one method take to heal in comparison to other methods?  Am I good candidate for a hair transplant procedure in the first place?  We will delve into all of these questions in this guide.

Hair Transplants – The Different Types

Hair Transplant Types

But first, let’s take a closer look at the two most common methods for extracting those donor hairs from the back of your head.  You should take notes, because you’ll want to have decided on which method you’re going to choose, before you select your surgeon.  There is something to consider regarding the extent of scarring that each of these methods introduces, so selecting the one you want carefully, is very important.  The two most common methods for donor extractions are FUT and FUE.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)

FUT involves cutting a thin strip of skin from across the back of the scalp, and suturing the incision shut.  Then taking this strip of tissue containing thousands of androgen-immune hairs and preparing them for transplantation into the recipient areas of the scalp.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s, hair transplants also used this strip excision method, but how they extracted and implanted the hairs into the recipient location resulted in a very unnatural result.  FUT seeks to remedy this by transplanting only naturally-occurring groups of hairs, whether they be individual, or groups of 2, 3, or 4 hairs.  This non-standard batching of density is key to achieving an undetectable final product.  We will go into significantly greater detail on FUT later on in this guide.  This procedure is typically less time intensive, and has been around long enough that it has been perfected.  But you do have to expect a permanent scar across the back of your head, which is typically extremely thin, and usually covered by surrounding hair.   Read more about FUT

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

FUE is a procedure that was introduced more recently (roughly 2002) and therefore may be considered the third-evolution of the hair transplant procedure.  It’s a method that extracts hairs from the back of the head without a strip excision, and without a linear scar being left behind.  Individual “units” of follicles are extracted from the back of the head using a small round cutting instrument.  Each of the holes left behind take about a week to heal after a period of scarring that appears as tiny, white dots.  This procedure is usually performed manually by a skilled surgeon, but FUE also has a new iteration called Robotic FUE.  Read more about FUE

Robotic FUE (ARTAS)

In 2011 yet another advancement occurred in the science of hair transplantation.  The Robotic FUE system known as ARTAS was introduced, and shown to be capable of automating the FUE extraction and transplantation procedure.  Our list of recommended surgeons identifies which clinics offer the ARTAS robotic FUE system.  As with most robotic systems, this method’s primary benefit is the reduction of human error, and as with FUE, there is no strip excision or linear scar involved.  It also comes with constant upgrades and improvements, so each year, its results become more and more refined, and exceptional.  Read more about Robotic FUE (ARTAS)

The Difference Between FUT and FUE?

FUT and FUE differ mostly in how the donor hairs are extracted from the back of the scalp, but there are a couple other important differentiations.   Everything else from that point forward, has been fairly standardized.  After the hairs have been removed from the scalp in FUT, stereo microscopes are used to extract thousands of “follicular units” from the strip of tissue that was extracted.  Simultaneously, the surgeon prepares the recipient area by creating thousands of tiny holes where the follicular units will be placed.  The angle, direction, and alignment of these holes is where surgeon aesthetic and artistic skill comes heavily into play.  Each follicular unit is placed into a corresponding hole.  Read more about the difference between FUE and FUT