Most people afflicted with pattern baldness have no idea there’s an issue until a friend or family member points it out. After that, a kind of obsession takes hold, and questions begin to pour down like the rain. How much hair will I actually lose? How long will it take? Will I look like Wallace Shawn or Jason Statham? For women, that third gets frightful on both counts. In regard to all three questions, the answer depends on such variables as diet, family history of hair loss, and the amount of stress you’re under on a daily basis.
If that friend or family member has already been so kind as to let you know that you’re losing your hair, and you’re considering hair transplant surgery as a viable form of treatment, allow us to assist in answering some common questions about the practice.
How will I know if a hair transplant is right for me?
First off, it’s wise to make certain that the clinic you visit is run by a board-certified hair transplant surgeon. This surgeon will be able to answer, quite easily, if you are a good candidate for hair restoration surgery. At your initial consultation you’ll likely receive a physical exam. The doctor will look at your scalp, ask questions about your lifestyle and overall health, and from there develop a plan to restore your hair.
How is a hair transplant carried off?
The two main methods for hair transplantation are the follicular unit transplant (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). The former involves harvesting strips of hair from in back of the scalp and implanting them in the recipient area. For FUE, the follicular units are harvested individually, which leaves less noticeable scarring and gives the doctor other areas of the body to fetch donors from, such as the back and chest. Of the two techniques, FUE is the more advanced, and more likely to be used.
How long can I expect the procedure to take?
Surgery normally takes the entire day–from 8 to 10 hours. At some point in the middle, everyone gets to break for lunch, including you. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and is virtually painless. At worst while the doctor is working, you’ll get bored and fall asleep. Most hair transplant surgeons truly appreciate the sound of snoring, because it reassures them that the patient is totally relaxed.
What medications should I stop taking before the procedure?
In most cases, patients who are using prescription medication will not need to forego use prior to the surgery. In the case of non-prescription medication, those that contain blood thinning agents, such aspirin and ibuprofen, should be stopped about 10 days before the procedure. This will slow down the amount of bleeding from the scalp while the doctor operates.
What about post-operative instructions?
Yes, there will be a few. Your doctor will clarify. Having said as much, typical guidelines to follow after surgery will include:
- No strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for 5 days
- For FUT patients, do not cut your hair for 2 weeks after the surgery
- FUE patients may do so after just 5 days
- Your doctor may provide you with a special shampoo for washing, to be used for a number of days after the procedure
How much does a hair transplant cost?
This will vary depending on how far advanced your condition is, but in the United States, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $14 per graft. This amounts to around $4000 to $15000 per procedure. Some clinics offer package deals wherein everything–consultation, surgery, post surgery products and visits–is boxed into one fee. Others charge separately for everything.
Most insurance companies will not pay for a hair transplant, as they’re likely to consider it a cosmetic engagement rather than something that is necessary. With this being said, a reputable hair clinic will almost always accept cash, checks, or major credit cards. Some will even offer financing plans.
Will recovery time take long?
Full recovery from a hair transplant–with the results firmly in place–takes anywhere from 12 to 14 months. Most patients can return to work the day after surgery, or at the very most, 5 to 7 days.
Hair implant surgery has been around for over 60 years. Today it is more successful than ever, with almost 700,000 patients world-wide choosing to undergo the process every year. For more information about what it can do for you, contact a board-certified hair transplant surgeon today.