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Are Hair Implants a Viable Solution for Men with Hair Loss?

Are Hair Implants a Viable Solution for Men Losing hair

Not long ago, a receding or thinning hairline wasn’t something you could do much about. You could choose a hairstyle that covered up the thinning or bald spots, or take another approach and embrace the hair loss by shaving your head.

Today, balding men have a variety of options. If your hair is starting to thin or recede, you can stop further hair loss using treatments like finasteride and minoxidil. If you already have thin or balding spots, there are topical products that can add a little extra bit of aesthetic thickness.

There are also hair implants -- artificial or natural hair that can be added to certain parts of your scalp to create thickness in areas where your hair is thinning, fill in receded parts of your hairline and give you a full, thick and complete head of hair again.

Are hair implants a viable solution? Yes and no. While procedures like a hair transplant, which use your own natural hair to fill in thin areas or recreate your hairline, are safe and usually have good results, artificial hair implants usually aren’t the best option for balding men.

Hair Implants vs. a Hair Transplant

Before we get into the details of each procedure, it’s important to know that hair implants and a hair transplant aren’t the same thing.

The term "hair implants" usually refers to artificial hair products that are implanted into the scalp in place of real hair. Usually, hair implants are used to add volume to balding areas or add hair to patches of the hairline where it’s receded.

An example of a hair implant is a product like Biofibre, which is a safe type of artificial hair fibre that can be implanted in a minor surgery.

"Hair implants" can also refer to old-fashioned hair plugs, which were an early form of transplant used to reverse the effects of balding.

Hair plugs have some major disadvantages, the biggest of which is the artificial look of the hair that results from large amounts of hair follicles being transplanted in each "plug." For the most part, hair plugs aren’t performed anymore as a hair restoration procedure.

Instead, most of today’s hair restoration surgeons use a procedure called "hair transplant" to move hairs from one part of the scalp to another.

Hair transplants are safe, widely practiced and fairly effective. In most cases, a hair transplant can be used to thicken up patches of thinning hair or completely restore a receding hairline with hair that looks and feels completely natural.

There are some limits to the effectiveness of a hair transplant. For example, if you’re completely bald and only have a horseshoe-like pattern of hair remaining on the back of your scalp, a hair transplant probably won’t be able to give you a thick, full head of hair.

The biggest downside of a hair transplant is the cost. Most procedures range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the amount of hair that needs to be transplanted and the complexity of the procedure.

Because of this, it’s usually cheaper and more effective to preserve the hair you still have, instead of letting it shed and "fixing" the issue with a hair transplant.

Remember, Hair Implants and Transplants Don’t "Cure" Baldness

While a hair transplant or artificial hair implants can add hair in areas where it no longer grows naturally, neither option is a lasting "cure" for baldness.

This is because male hair loss is primarily caused by dihydrotestosterone, or DHT -- a male sex hormone that causes hair follicles to miniaturize and stop producing new hair over time.

Our guide to DHT and male hair loss explains the relationship between DHT and male baldness in more detail. If you’re starting to notice hair loss and want to learn why and how it’s happening, it’s worth a read.

If your hairline is receding or the hair on top of your head is thinning, a hair transplant won’t stop this from happening. All it will do is add hair back to the areas of your scalp that it’s transplanted to.

For example, if your hairline is receding and you decide to transplant hair from the back of your scalp to your hairline without doing anything to address the root cause of the hair loss, there’s a risk you could continue to lose hair even after the transplant.

This can result in some very unusual, unnatural-looking hair loss patterns, especially if the front of your hairline is made up of transplanted hairs that are invulnerable to male pattern baldness, while the rest of your scalp is made up of thinning, DHT-affected hair.

To address the main cause of baldness, you’ll need to use a DHT blocker like finasteride. Most hair restoration surgeons will advise you to take this after your hair transplant, sometimes with another hair restoration agent like minoxidil.

Using a DHT blocker after a hair transplant reduces (and in some cases, completely stops) the speed of further hair loss. This means there’s less risk of the non-transplanted patches of hair starting to shed and ruin the results of your procedure.

Do Hair Implants and Transplants Work?

Artificial hair implants and hair transplants using natural hair work very well to beef up thinning areas and add hair to bald parts of your scalp, albeit with a significant price tag.

However, neither option will stop you from losing more hair, meaning you’ll get the best results over the long term by taking action to stop further hair loss using a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor like finasteride to make sure you don’t lose any more of your hair.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the transplanted hair needs to come from an area of your scalp where the hair follicles are immune to DHT. If a hair transplant is performed using follicles that are affected by DHT, there’s still a risk of the hair eventually miniaturizing and falling out.

All in all, hair transplants can have great results. Even artificial hair implants such as Biofibre can potentially improve the aesthetic effects of male pattern baldness. However, neither will prevent further hair loss or cause your existing hair to become more resistant to DHT.

Important Safety Information

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Finasteride is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.

Read this Patient Information before you start taking Finasteride and each time you get a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or treatment.

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).

It is not known if Finasteride works for a receding hairline on either side of and above your forehead (temporal area).

Finasteride is not for use by women and children.

Who should not take Finasteride?

Do not take Finasteride if you:

  • are pregnant or may become pregnant. Finasteride may harm your unborn baby.
    • Finasteride tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the medicine during handling, as long as the tablets are not broken or crushed. Females who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not come in contact with broken or crushed Finasteride tablets.
    • If a pregnant woman comes in contact with crushed or broken Finasteride tablets, wash the contact area right away with soap and water. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Finasteride, a healthcare provider should be consulted. If a woman who is pregnant with a male baby swallows or comes in contact with the medicine in Finasteride, the male baby may be born with sex organs that are not normal.
  • are allergic to any of the ingredients in Finasteride. See the end of this leaflet for a complete list of ingredients in Finasteride.

    What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Finasteride? Before taking Finasteride, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have any other medical conditions, including problems with your prostate or liver

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

    How should I take Finasteride?

  • Take Finasteride exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it.
  • You may take Finasteride with or without food.
  • If you forget to take Finasteride, do not take an extra tablet. Just take the next tablet as usual.

    Finasteride will not work faster or better if you take it more than once a day.

    What are the possible side effects of Finasteride?

  • decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.

  • There may be an increased risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride at 5 times the dose of Finasteride.

    The most common side effects of Finasteride include:

  • decrease in sex drive
  • trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • a decrease in the amount of semen

    The following have been reported in general use with Finasteride:

  • breast tenderness and enlargement. Tell your healthcare provider about any changes in your breasts such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge.
  • depression;
  • decrease in sex drive that continued after stopping the medication;
  • allergic reactions including rash, itching, hives and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face;
  • problems with ejaculation that continued after stopping medication;
  • testicular pain;
  • difficulty in achieving an erection that continued after stopping the medication;
  • male infertility and/or poor quality of semen.
  • in rare cases, male breast cancer.

    Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

    These are not all the possible side effects of Finasteride. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.

    How should I store Finasteride?

  • Store Finasteride at room temperature between 59˚F to 86˚F (15˚C to 30˚C).
  • Keep Finasteride in a closed container and keep Finasteride tablets dry (protect from moisture).

    Keep Finasteride and all medicines out of the reach of children.

    General information about the safe and effective use of Finasteride.

    Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in this Patient Information. Do not use Finasteride for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give Finasteride to other people, even if they have the same symptoms you have. It may harm them.