Wondering if you are a candidate for hair transplant surgery? Here are some things to consider:
1) What is Causing my Hair Loss?
Hair loss can be caused by many factors. However, not all hair loss is treatable surgically. Hair transplant surgery can sometimes exacerbate some hair loss, particularly those caused by underlying immune system issues. The majority of patients suffering from hair loss are affected by either genetic male, or pattern hair. This can be treated with surgical success. The first step to determining whether you are a candidate for surgery is to identify the cause of your hair loss. The first step in your hair restoration journey should involve a doctor who specializes in treating hair loss.
2) Do I have Enough “Donor”?
Hair transplant surgery, as we have already explained, is a “moving” operation. This means that the main focus of the surgery is to harvest healthy, permanent hair follicles from the safe donor zone and transplant them to the balding or thinned areas in the recipient zone. They will thrive and survive indefinitely. To have a successful procedure, you will need enough healthy follicles from the donor area. Unfortunately, patients with thinned donor tissue or those without enough donor tissue are not suitable candidates for surgery. A thorough evaluation by a Hair Transplant specialist is the only way to find out if you are “the donor”.
3) Are my Goals Realistic?
Modern hair transplant surgery can produce excellent results that are often undistinguishable. However, there are limitations. Although most candidates have healthy and strong donor areas, there is a limit to the number of follicles that can be implanted in this area. This means that you only have so many follicles to move to the bald areas. Patients with a limited amount of hair loss or thick donor areas may be able to have more aggressive surgery plans. They can allocate large amounts of grafts to one small area, thereby achieving the best results. However, most patients find that the “demand” for donor follicles in their backs is often greater than the “supply”. Patients must realize that there are limits to what they can do. Patients may want to have the perfect, straight hairline like their favorite Hollywood actor. However, this may not be possible or advisable. It might be more beneficial to start with a conservative, natural approach that will “age” well but leave donor hair follicles for future surgery. Do you mind a thick, natural hairline that is slightly longer and more mature than the norm? Are you able to understand that using only half of the donor available to create the “high school” hairline is not the best option. This will likely cause problems down the line. If you do, then your goals are achievable and you should be happy with the results.
4) Am I okay with the Prospect of Multiple Surgeries?
Most patients prefer a single-step approach to hair restoration. Although it’s not something that anyone likes, the reality is sometimes necessary. You can only take so much from the donor in one session. Modern “megasession” techniques can safely transfer 3,000-4,000 grafts in one sitting. However, this is only possible for patients with excellent donor areas. The average patient does not have the “characteristics” of a donor to be able to perform a large, safe session in one sitting. The average patient can do between 2,000 and 2,500 grafts within a single day. For advanced hair loss, patients will need between 5,000 and 6,000 follicular units grafts to attain acceptable coverage “front to back.” This means that patients who desire full coverage will probably require at least two procedures. Most patients will seek surgery before this point. For these patients, between 2,000 and 2,500 grafts are sufficient. Patients with severe loss will still benefit from a small surgery that focuses on the front and middle of the scalp. Many patients feel satisfied even if there is some thinning in the “back” of the scalp. This allows them to focus on the front and middle and not the back. Patients with progressive or advanced hair loss should be aware of the possibility that they will need additional surgery in the future. They must also accept that it is not always possible to perform surgery “one-and-done”.
5) Am I Ready to Make a Positive Change?
Hair transplant surgery is a life-changing procedure, despite the difficult topics mentioned above. Many patients feel lonely and isolated after losing their hair. Modern, well-executed hair transplants are very natural and patients can actually restore their sense of self. This can be a difficult emotional journey. However, people who are willing to change their lives and tackle this issue head-on (no pun intended), often turn out to be great candidates.