Before considering a hair transplant, the following thoughts should be kept in mind:
Transplants are not a cure for someone suffering pattern baldness, no matter the gender. A transplant will not counteract the effect of hair loss in areas that are bald or that have been bald for quite some time.
If there is little hair on the head prior to the transplant, without the inclusion of medication to regrow hair, the hair transplant length may stay the same and not be stimulated to grow any further.
How Much Does A Hair Transplant Cost?
Many clinics are reticent to state exactly how much a hair transplant will cost – due in part to the uniqueness of each persons hair loss requirements.
All in all, it is not cheap especially as some patients require a second session to achieve a thicker amount of hair. The cost will vary greatly depending on the following factors:
1. Physician – Who is doing the surgery and their level of experience.
2. The teams’ experience that supports the head physician.
3. Location – Where you get the procedure done, i.e. medical tourism now caters for patients travelling to countries with a lower cost base for hair loss procedures including hair transplants, grafts, FUE treatments etc.
4. The method of hair transplant chosen-
(I) Strip method (on average) – the graft cost is between $3-6 per strip
(II) Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) (on average)- as this is a longer process, it is more time consuming for the physician. Consequently the prices are normally double the strip method. The price may vary between $5 – 12 per graft.
A graft is a follicular unit and is how the hair appears in its natural form.
For example, you might have a particular graft that has 1, 2, 3 or 4 haired units. Each one is the same cost.
In terms of an overall price, think of your hand curled up to the size of a fist and place your fist over the spot where there is a bald patch. That space is approximately 1500 grafts.
Often patients will want double the amount, or have a second session to achieve greater density. An estimate for the procedure cost can vary between 3000 and 6000 grafts depending on the desire of the patient for thicker hair density.
Then multiply that by the number of grafts required.
There will be some patients who want a second session to ensure they have maximum coverage. The range is broad and only when you have had a consultation will you know a ballpark figure for your requirements.
Therefor expect an average cost to be between $3000 to $30,000.
5. Anesthetic – Sometimes this may not be included in the overall hair transplant cost. Be sure to ask if it is included.
6. Post Surgery Support – After the hair transplant surgery, there may be a requirement for 1 -2 follow up sessions to determine how the graft is taking to the scalp. Ask your surgeon if post-consultations are included.
7. Time off work – it is normal for people to take time off work to minimize the likelihood of infections by reducing public contact.
This is another cost (loss of earnings period) to be included in your plan. Should you choose this procedure due to a work accident, or something occurred beyond your control which resulted in hair loss, you may wish to speak to your health insurance company or employer about financial support for the related expenses.
8. A follow-up graft – for many people, they are happy to invest in hair transplants to get a full set of hair back on their head.
But unfortunately, it is not always so simple as a one stop cost. Evidence has shown that the younger a person is when they get a transplant, the greater propensity there is for their hair to fall out faster.
This is due in part to donor skin sites not being genetically resistant to hair loss. As sad as it may be, the ideal candidates for hair transplants are generally middle aged men with moderate loss of hair.
A full medical examination should be performed by a doctor prior to having a hair transplant. This may also include seeking your doctor’s professional opinion on the procedure and how it is to be performed with consideration to the medication involved during and after the procedure.
Care should be taken to consider the type of anesthetic used during the procedure if a person is already on medication.
It is important for the doctor and anesthetist to be aware how the surgery medication will react with any medication the patient is currently taking.
Pain-relief medication must also be considered in this equation as will the person’s medical history.
The more contemporary transplants of today involve the following:
First a hair consultation occurs with a certified and reputable doctor. This includes a review of a person’s hair growth pattern, rate and level of hair loss, previous family history/genetics of hair loss. Within this consultation, the doctor will review any previous treatments for hair loss or past surgeries and their outcome.
Once the procedure is agreed upon it is simply booking in for the procedure when an appointment is available and arranging for time off work.
The actual hair transplant procedure tends to follow the following format:
a. Hair is cut short on the scalp sites chosen to be the ‘donor’ areas (where hair has been chosen to be removed).
b. Hair follicles from the back and side of the scalp are removed. These follicles generally have greater capacity to hold and keep hair. A local anesthetic is used during this process as it is a uncomfortable procedure.
c. The removed hair follicles are inserted (or grafted) into areas on the scalp where bald patches are evident. They are mostly inserted just above the forehead and top of the scalp or crown.
d. Care is taken during step (c) to insert the hair follicle into areas of the scalp where blood flow is good and the follicle is likely to be stimulated to grow the hair strand.
e. After the operation, side effects such as bruising, swelling, pain and overall throbbing may result. This may be managed by a pain-relieving treatment plan.
Sometimes the hair transplant area will be covered up by bandages which will need to be removed within a short period of time post the operation.
f. The doctor will warn against exercise, strenuous activity or any activity which will increase blood pressure or friction to the scalp.
Due to an inability after surgery to participate in any physical exertion activities, this will also include small physical activities such as grocery shopping and taking animals for walks.
Ensure you have everything required such as food, pet care and the support needed to assist you in your day to day activities.
Arrange for someone to assist you whilst you are in your recuperation period if you live by yourself.
Alternatives to A Hair Transplant
Other Hair Transplant options include:
a. ‘Scalp Reduction Surgery’ – this involves a local anesthetic followed by a strip of bald skin being cut from the scalp. The scalp is then pulled together across the removed part and stitched to bridge the gap on the scalp.
b. ‘Flap Surgery’ – this involves an extensive hair transplant whereby a large amount of skin tissue from the scalp is primed over a period of time to grow cells. Once the cells have grown, a large part of a bald section of the scalp is removed, to be replaced by the hair that has been primed to grow. Generally due to the complexity of this procedure, a hospital stay for several days may be required.
The transplant itself may take several hours (3-7 hours) and generally, patients return for several treatments to cover the scalp.
A pain-relief treatment plan is provided at the end of the process as the areas where follicles have been removed and then inserted is quite tender and will take time to heal.
It is important to note that there can be challenges during the process, which can include:
Infection – as the skins surface has been interrupted and exposed to the open air, it is important to minimize the risk of germs getting into the open wounds.
Antibiotics are generally prescribed to minimize the likelihood of infection.
Allergic reaction to the procedure or medication.
Bleeding and Scaring – Bleeding is usually contained by a cleanup at the end of the procedure and minimized through careful treatment of the scalp.
There can be scarring as a result of the skin being perforated. The doctor will prescribe a treatment and care plan to minimize scarring.
Nerve damage – where a person may no longer feel any sensitivity or over-sensitivity to the scalp site involved in the procedure.
What To Consider Prior To Having A Hair Transplant?
It is extremely important to validate the credentials and license of your prospective doctor who may perform the procedure.
There are many unscrupulous characters who have set up hair clinics to perform this sort of surgery at a lower cost. It is important that you do your homework to validate the prospective hair transplant doctor has performed, with success, this operation many times beforehand.
Testimonials – do not just accept the written word of previous patients or the good word of the doctor. Ask to see and speak to individuals who have been through the same process with the same doctor previously.
This serves two purposes. One is that you will be able to see for yourself the hair transplant success. Secondly, you can ask the individual any questions that you may have related to the procedure and post-operation support.
Not all hair transplants succeed, and this may not be known until 9 months after the operation.
Hair only may start to grow after 9 months as it takes some time to get use to its new environment and during this time, the cell or tissues may die.
It is important to remember that this procedure does not guarantee hair growth success and transplanted hair may fall out after several months.
But, the good news is that there are many people walking around with thick full hair, the result of a hair transplant that looks like 100% natural hair growth.