How to Decide Whether to Have a Hair Transplant

May 7th 2016

One overriding factor to consider revolves around how the hair grows. Hair transplants do not create new hair, and instead, the procedure takes hair on one part of your head and places it on another. Consult with your doctor about the risks versus rewards of hair transplant surgery when you compare it to other treatment options.

What Happens

During a typical hair transplant, the doctor removes a strip of hair between 3 and 4 inches long. This portion of scalp usually comes from the back of the head where the pattern baldness has not occurred and the hair follicles are more numerous. The doctor then sutures that portion of your scalp shut with a needle and thread.

Afterwards, the doctor takes the removed scalp piece and cuts it into 500 to 2,000 tiny skin grafts that he sews to the balding part of your head. The number of grafts depends on the quality of the hair removed. Your doctor numbs the area of the skin that receives the transplanted hair before grafting the skin to the head. This surgery usually takes four to eight hours based on the amount of hair transplanted.

Costs and Risks

The costs associated with this procedure range from $4,000 to $15,000. Since this is elective surgery and not required to improve someone's overall quality of life, health insurance companies rarely cover hair transplants in their policies. Make sure you have enough financial resources to cover this type of operation. You may need more than one operation to achieve the full results.

All surgeries carry the risks of bleeding and infections. Scarring at the incision site and unnatural hair growth may occur following a hair transplant. When new hair starts growing, some people may experience swelling or infections at the graft sites. This is called folliculitis, and your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or you can apply compresses to the area to alleviate symptoms. The best way to prevent complications is to have surgery when you are healthy as opposed to when you may have some other underlying health condition.

Waiting and Watching

Transplanted hair usually falls out two to three weeks following hair transplantation surgery. Hair starts to grow anew within a few months of the procedure. Many patients attain 60 percent of new hair growth at the surgical sites within six to nine months of surgery. Some doctors may prescribe hair-growing drugs such as minoxidil to help hair come in faster. Most of the hair that grows due to transplantation becomes permanent.


Hair transplant surgery has been used in the United States since the 1950s as a way to alleviate pattern baldness in men and women. A doctor removes the back part of someone's scalp and transplants that section of hair to parts of the head that have no hair. The procedure usually involves a local anesthetic and is done at a doctor's office. Consider several factors to find out if a hair transplant is for you.

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