Home Health & Fitness Hair Transplants: Types, How They Work, Cost, After Care

Hair Transplants: Types, How They Work, Cost, After Care

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Hair Transplants: Types, How They Work, Cost, After Care

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Our relationship with our hair can feel very personal. An unwarranted haircut or color could bring up feelings of inadequacy. Braids or protective styles could lead to exterior unprofessionalism, leading to loss of jobs or missed opportunities. Short hair can allude to boldness for going against the age-old stereotype that women are to have long hair. Hair can be a beautiful tribute to your heritage or a crown of pride, regardless of what texture or style you wear. And seeing your hair shed regularly or continuously thin in one area can be alarming.

If you are dealing with hair loss or thinning, you are not alone. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the average person loses between 50 to 100 hairs a day, and according to Cleveland Clinic, more than 50 percent of women will experience hair loss in their lives for a plethora of reasons. If you’re seeing more than a few strands come out in your hairbrush or on your pillow, you might be experiencing another form of hair loss that can potentially be treated with topical products, non-invasive procedures, or hair transplants. To gather the 411 on how a hair transplant could be beneficial, PS spoke to five experts who provided insights on what to look for when deciding on a treatment plan, as well as detailing the pros and cons of treatment, and why Turkey has solidified itself as the hair transplant capital of the world.

What Causes Hair Loss?

Certain chemical hair products or excessive use of hot tools, protective hairstyles (often leading to traction alopecia), stress, poor diet, hormonal problems, genetics, age vitamin, and mineral deficiencies are just a few of the reasons people experience with hair loss, according to EsteNove, a hair-transplant clinic in Istanbul. It’s important to note that some forms of hair loss are temporary, while others may be permanent — therefore, treatments can vary depending on the underlying causes.

According to Hardik Doshi, MD, lead surgeon of hair restoration at Ample, shampoos infused with ketoconazole, minoxidil, or saw palmetto may help improve scalp health and stimulate hair growth. Additionally, growth supplements containing biotin, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and vitamin D may support hair health and promote regrowth. Other hair loss treatment options include low-level laser therapy or platelet-rich plasma therapy. If you continue to lose excess strands a day, it might be time to consider something more permanent, like a hair transplant.

What Is a Hair Transplant?

Este Nove defines a hair transplant as a surgical procedure where hair follicles are moved from one part of the scalp (usually the back or side, known as the donor area) to the areas where thinning or balding is occurring, known as the recipient area. This is the only permanent solution for hair loss.

There are two main types of hair transplants in America, where a report by Coherent Market Insights cites the global hair transplant system market was valued at $7.22 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach $28.06 billion by 2030. They are follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT), also known as strip surgery.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
During FUE, the entire back and sides of the head are shaved (where hair is genetically resistant to balding) and the follicular units are individually placed to the thinning or balding area with a punch-like instrument. Dr. Doshi says the process requires great attention to detail as the surgeon carefully implants to ensure natural-looking placement and optimal growth direction.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Craig Ziering, D.O., F.A.A.D., dermatologist, hair transplant surgeon, and owner of Ziering Medical, explains that during the FUT process, an elliptical-shaped strip of tissue is removed from the donor zone. The follicular units are dissected under a microscope and then placed into the recipient sites at the proper angle and orientation to match the natural growth direction of your hair. “This strip is dissected under a microscope into individual follicular units, which contain one to four hairs each,” Dr. Doshi says.

Both methods aim to redistribute a patient’s existing permanent hair to restore natural-looking density and hairlines in a manner that complements their hair characteristics and growth patterns. In terms of final appearance, the only difference is that FUT leaves a nearly invisible linear scar in the donor zone and FUE produces tiny, pinpoint dots on the scalp that can be visible in public at the beginning of the recovery stage. Both types of scars are easily camouflaged by your hair and should not be too much of a concern as they will dissolve quickly.

Popular Turkish Hair Transplant Options

Outside of America, Istanbul has quickly grown to be the hair transplant capital of the world due to medical tourism, performing more than 100,000 surgeries a year, according to EsteNove, where they perform FUE and Ice DHI hair transplants. During the Ice DHI process, hair grafts are extracted one by one from the donor area and inserted into the recipient area through a special tool called the DHI Choi Pen. The small pen resembles a syringe that is used to individually insert each graft into the small incisions before transplanting them. The rounded tip of the pen makes it a minimally invasive process, allowing the surgeon to aim for maximum density and transplant natural hair in areas without damaging it.

The ‘Ice’ refers to how the extracted grafts are stored. Typically, transplantation takes five to seven hours; however, according to Dr. Zafer Çetinkaya, head of the hair transplant medical team at EsteNove, after two hours, about five percent of the grafts die due to the removal from their natural blood supply. “In the Ice method, grafts are placed in a special solution that feeds them and are then stored at around 25-46°F,” Dr. Çetinkaya says. “This technique increases graft survival rate and quality, and ultimately, the success rate of the procedure.”

As a wider part of the medical tourism initiative, the government funds much of the process — taking on a large percentage of machinery, employee salaries, and VAT discount support. This foundational backing allows clinics like EsteNove the option to offer all-inclusive hair transplant packages for $3,000, including airfare, hotel, procedure, car service, and special after-care parcels. This is one of the most convenient and economical ways to address hair loss. The biggest draw, of course, is the cost. According to Dr. Doshi, hair transplants cost between $10K to $50K by top surgeons in the United States, in comparison to the $3,000 charged in Istanbul.

Who Is the Best Candidate For a Hair Transplant?

All the experts agree that hair transplants should be the last step in your journey toward recovering your hair. “[I tend to consider] individuals who have done a degree of hair restoration or treatment series first,” says Shann Christen, a celebrity hairstylist and trichologist based in Beverly Hills. “Putting the hair in its best and strongest condition prior to a transplant can help ensure a better outcome.”

As much as you might believe a hair transplant could be the right move for you, not every person with hair loss is a suitable candidate. Although it differs from office to office and country to country, candidates should generally be over 20 and under 65 with relatively stable hair loss patterns. “Candidacy is determined by many different things, including the type of hair loss, severity of loss, adequacy of donor hair, and most importantly, realistic patient expectations and goals,” Angie Phipps, Bosley doctor and distinguished hair restoration expert, says. Anabel Kingsley, brand president and consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley, argues that a surgeon might not find hair transplantation appropriate if you have nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, or certain types of autoimmune scarring alopecia.

Regardless of which surgeon or country you decide to get a hair transplant in, make sure that the process starts with a consultation. There are many factors that go into deciding if a hair transplant is the best solution. Trichologist Bridgette Hill stresses the importance of considering the diameter of the area with or without hair follicles, as the larger the diameter of the bald or scarring area, the more challenging it is to achieve an optimal result. “The amount of available donor hair, quality of donor hair, extent of hair loss, and the patient’s desired goals of density versus coverage all play into candidacy,” Dr. Ziering says. For example, because genetic hair loss is a progressive disorder, meaning you will continue to lose more native hair, the expert recommends hair prevention therapies in your daily hair care routine, in addition to the transplant, for better success. “As hair restoration specialists, we are committed to helping every patient navigate this journey and our treatment plans include both surgical and non-surgical components to deliver the best outcomes,” Dr. Ziering says.

How to Find the Best Hair Transplant Doctor

Prior to making an appointment, you should ensure the doctor is accredited in dermatology or plastic surgery and has experience doing hair transplants. The experience, plus the doctor’s interest in staying up to date with medical advancements, industry standards, and new techniques, will also help you select the doctor.

Once you’ve decided on where to scout your doctor, be sure your journey starts with a detailed medical history review, physical examination, scalp assessment, and sometimes specialized diagnostic tests. Dr. Doshi examines these aspects to determine if the patient is a suitable candidate or if alternative treatments are more important. “The goal is to ensure the safety and success of the procedure while meeting the patient’s expectations for hair restoration.” In addition, the experts all suggest you do a deep dive into before and after images and reviews from former patients and potentially have the option to hear from these patients.

As a second step in the pre-surgery process, make sure you know what machinery will be used and what your various procedures options are. You should walk away from the consultation with all your questions answered by a surgeon who clearly explains each step of the process. Furthermore, get clarity on who is doing the surgery and what parts of the procedure are being done by the doctor. The experts are aware that cheaper clinics may have nurses or technicians perform the procedure — to ensure a faster turnaround and bigger paycheck — leaving only certain parts left to the doctor. However, you will yield the best results when the entire process is performed by a reputable surgeon.

Post-operation, walk away with the hard facts on what the aftercare and accountability will look like if you’re not happy with the results.

Hair Transplant After-Care Routine

Immediately after surgery, regardless of which option you choose, an antibiotic ointment is placed over the area, and you’ll be recommended to apply it twice daily for the first seven days.

With any of the three surgeries, the recovery time lasts between three to six months with some redness, scabbing, or swelling. “Most patients are back to work within a week,” Dr. Ziering says. “Transplanted hair falls out in a few weeks but then starts to regrow in a few months.” Over the first several months hair growth will continue and tend to mature with final results visible between 12 and 18 months.

In general, you should avoid touching or rubbing your hair three days post-procedure. The scalp is still numb and the slightest touch could alter some of the surgeon’s work. You won’t be able to wash your hair the first four days but after that, you will reap the benefits of luscious, permanent hair.

Natasha Marsh is a freelance writer who writes about fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Prior to freelancing, she held styling staff positions at The Wall Street Journal, Burberry, Cosmopolitan Magazine, British GQ, and Harpers Bazaar.

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