Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/24/2021
Whether your whole head is going bald or you just have patches that are thinning out, chances are, this male pattern baldness is giving a one-two punch to your confidence levels.
Shampoos, serums and pills like finasteride are a solid place to start, but if those don’t substantially help with hair restoration, hair transplants might be an option your healthcare provider or dermatology practitioner offers.
These have come a long way since the “hair plugs” of the 1970s, and now there are two common and effective options for hair restoration surgery: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
Both are performed on an outpatient basis, but vary in invasiveness and recovery time.
For FUT, healthcare professionals remove a strip of healthy, strong “donor hair” from your head where others may not notice it’s missing. They then place it to cover the thinning patch of hair. The main drawback of FUT is the linear scar it can leave on the scalp.
For FUE, which is newer, healthcare professionals select singular hair follicles to transplant to another location on the scalp via “micro punches” that leave scars that are barely noticeable.
While it can take longer to perform, for the sole reason of less visible scarring, FUE transplants are often the hair restoration route chosen by many men.
Since hair transplant surgery is most often deemed a cosmetic procedure, it’s rare for insurance to cover it — unless your hair loss is due to an illness (such as cancer) or an injury.
Hair restoration surgery price will vary based on your geographic location, who’s performing your surgery and how much donor hair is transplanted, but expect to invest between $3,000 and $15,000.
As you can see, costs can be drastically different, and one thing for sure is that they’re never a drop in the bucket.
But you can’t put a price on your self esteem, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this hair growth procedure.
Hair restoration surgeries performed by board-certified plastic surgeons are generally very safe.
Most often, the scalp may be tender and pain medication and bandages are enough treatment during the two to five days post-FUE transplant.
Avoid physical activities during this surgical procedure’s recovery time.
Within a month the transplanted hair may begin to fall out. The transplanted hair follicles should create new growth within a couple months, and patients can expect up to 80 percent of hair to grow back.
In all hair transplant surgeries, there’s potential some or all of the hair grafts won’t “take” or regrow, or hair may grow back in uneven patches.
In either of these cases, healthcare professionals often recommend additional attempts.
Possible hair transplant surgery complications are often mild, but include:
Pain, swelling or bleeding
Cyst development at the suture site
Since FUE transplants can be quite an investment and are more invasive than other hair thinning treatment options, you may want to consider a path that’s a little less intense.
Both of these FDA-approved prescription drugs have been proven to slow hair loss and boost hair density among most users.
Topical Minoxidil is available in liquid solution or foam format. It’s designed to be applied directly to the scalp and promotes hair growth locally.
While it doesn’t stop hair loss, it’s believed to increase blood flow to the scalp that may stimulate new growth.
Finasteride is taken as a tablet, and works systematically since it’s ingested.
Rather than generating new growth, this protects existing hair follicles through a hormonal shift that blocks dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is a hormone derived from testosterone thought to be the trigger for many cases of male pattern baldness.
Some doctors prescribe taking these medicines together—in tandem, they can act as a one-two punch for men who struggle with hair thinning or loss.
The hair transplant surgery known as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) can be costly and a little painful, but the results are fairly quick and recognizable.
Whether you’re leaning toward topical, oral or surgical hair loss treatments, the first step should be consulting with your doctor or dermatologist.
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