Ballpark Estimate: $3,000 to $24,000+
Are you a man who is losing his hair? If so, you don’t have to feel compelled to wear a hat for the rest of your life if you want to hide this fact. Instead, today there are some easy steps you can take to address the problem, which affects thousands of people each year and leaves many of them feeling overly self-conscious. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications that can slow and even stop hair loss in men, but while this can keep the problem from worsening, these medications can’t restore the hair that is already gone. That’s where hair transplant surgery comes in. The latest surgical techniques are safe and effective for males, making this an appealing option for them.
Hair Loss in Men
For the vast majority of men, especially most of those who suffer from “male pattern baldness,” hair loss is genetic. The condition results when specific hormones interact with hair follicles on the top of the head, invading the receptor site to bind with the hair shaft. Over time this causes a miniaturization of the shaft and follicle. But you may care less about why the process occurs and want to know more about what you can do about it.
First of all, you can try the FDA-approved drugs, which inhibit the growth of the hormones and help slow down the hair loss process, but remember that these can’t fill in the hair that’s lost. On the other hand, hair restoration can, since it works by transplanting donor “bald resistant” follicles from the back of head to the thinning area on the top. Since these relocated follicles retain their genetic resistance to the hormone, they will continue to grow as before. So this can be an effective solution for many males.
How It’s Performed
Hair transplant surgery, which is also known as follicle unit strip surgery, is currently the most popular and least expensive way to transplant hair follicles in men. Performed in the comfort of the doctor’s office, it is an exacting and labor intensive surgical procedure. Following the application of a mild, short acting sedative, a thin 20 cm strip of donor skin and hair is removed from the back of the head. The site is stitched closed which will be totally disguised by the surrounding hair. Using a high power binocular microscope, a team of specially trained assistants will cut the strip of donor hair into a number of tiny micro and minigrafts. Cutting the donor strip must be extremely precise because the objective is to isolate and obtain grafts of various sizes. Some grafts, the micrografts, will contain only one hair follicle while the minigrafts will hold units of two, three, or four.
In a procedure that could take up to a full day, the surgeon will randomly transplant the minigrafts into hundreds of tiny mini-slits in the scalp and the micrografts into 19-gauge needle holes. To obtain the most naturally refined and feathered hairline, the surgeon will place the micrografts up front in an irregular pattern. The minigrafts, on the other hand, are placed further behind to create more fullness and density. In previous years, the graft’s were larger, up to 8-hair follicles, but this size proved to be unsatisfactory since many patients ran out of donor hair before the hair transplant process could be completed.
The effectiveness of the treatment in men will be determined by the number of grafts transplanted by the surgeon. Typically, as many as 1,500 to 3,000 grafts can be transplanted in a single session. If additional sessions are required, the entire procedure is repeated. The effectiveness will also depend on how full the patient wants his hair to appear and whether he wants to continue the treatment in the future.
Hair transplant surgery is virtually pain free. With today’s refined procedures, the minislits are very small and will heal within 5 to 7 days. The recipient area will usually appear pink in color with small scabs forming around the slits. Most patients feel fine within a day or two, although some soreness can be expected for several days following the surgery. The only medication provided is antibiotics to reduce the chances of swelling, and mild pain pills if needed. Any real discomfort is usually in the area of the donor strip where the sutures are located. After one week, the stitches are removed and the patient can resume such activities as swimming, heavy exercise, etc.
What You Can Expect
When performed correctly, hair transplantation will result in very natural-looking hair growth in the area that was once balding. In most patients, the hair in the transplanted area will begin to grow in about two or three months, but a few lucky people will start to see results even sooner. Initially, the new hair will be very thin but will gradually grow thicker and fuller over time. After one year the transplanted hair will be fully mature and will continue to grow for a lifetime.
Just keep in mind that for some patients, one session may not be enough to acquire the density they desire. In these instances, they can return for a second, and occasionally, a third session. These additional sessions will usually take place around four to six months following the initial treatment. Since hair loss in the recipient area is progressive, patients may need follow-up visits down the road to address subsequent issues.
What It Will Cost
The cost for hair replacement surgery depends Cost For Hair Transplant Surgeryon the patient and his specific situation and the number of follicular unit grafts to be placed. Keep in mind that a surgeon will not be able to narrow in on an exact number in advance, since there are many variables that come into play, including the extent of the hair loss, the balding pattern and the density and thickness desired. On average, the number of grafts needed can range between 1,000 and 3,000. Although prices can start around $3 per graft, the typical cost will be around $4 to $8 each. The cost per graft variations usually reflects the reputation of the surgeon, the ambiance of the clinic, the number of assistants on staff, and the surgeon’s overhead costs. In some instances, surgeons will reduce the price of a graft if you are buying a large number at one time. In addition, some surgeons are willing to work for a fixed amount for the procedure, which can be approximately $5,000 for about 1,000 grafts.
You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $24,000 for hair transplant surgery, depending on your specific situation and needs.
It is also worth a note that in addition to performing hair transplant surgery on the scalp, the procedure is also available for other parts of the body as well. Hair grafting to fill in a spotty beard or goatee can cost between $3,000 and $5,500, while chest hair transplants can set you back between $5,500 to $11,000. Even an eyebrow restoration is possible. This can cost $3,500 to $6,000. Just keep in mind that hair transplant surgery is considered to be cosmetic surgery. On that basis alone, it is not covered by insurance, so you should plan to pay for the expense out of your own pocket.
Hair Loss in Women
While surgical hair transplant is a very good option for men, it is important to mention that it is not a viable solution for most women. The fact is that many women can have the female equivalent of male pattern baldness, but unfortunately it is because of a different cause that won’t respond in the same way. In women, this condition is generally more hormonal in nature than genetic, and it is also likely to cause thinning throughout the entire scalp rather than just concentrated in one area the way it is in men. Since hair transplant surgery is more effective if it is concentrated in a particular single area, this means that the procedure is not usually suitable for women. In addition, some of the FDA-approved drugs for men are extremely dangerous for females. For instance, Propecia, which is the most widely used prescription for men, can cause birth defects on a fetus. Therefore, it is not prescribed for women at all.