Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/1/2022
For both men and women, hair is a sensitive subject. At some point in our lives, regardless of gender, we’ll all start to see the effects of age on our beloved hair.
In men, pattern hair loss symptoms are well known: a bald spot on the crown, thinning at the temples, and a receding hairline pushing back farther and farther — until it disappears forever.
Hairline restoration is a complicated and invasive procedure, and it can be expensive. But it might also be worth it, depending on your needs, the damage, and how much you’re willing to put your body through for a good-looking head of hair.
Hairline restoration or hair transplantation surgery is a surgical procedure in which your hairline is enhanced or restored by grafting hair follicles onto your head after moving them from another location on your body.
There are two hair transplant techniques for frontal hairline restoration that are commonly used, and each type of procedure can have different costs, benefits and healing processes.
The two primary procedures for restoring an entire hairline are follicular unit extraction (also called FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (known as FUT).
FUT is considered more efficient and faster than FUE. That’s because with FUT, the surgeon removes a strip of donor skin with donor hair follicles, separates each individual follicle, and then grafts each follicle where they’re needed.
With FUE, in contrast, those individual follicles are extracted one at a time from the donor location, and grafted directly without the middle step.
FUE, as a result, takes longer, but it also reduces the amount of scarring at the donor site. Furthermore, it reduces the scope of injury at the donor site, which may mean a lower risk of infection and a faster healing process.
FUT, meanwhile, is considered less effective, in part because of the extra cutting and larger scar sites.
FUE also adds the benefits of less pain after surgery, and it means that individual hairs can be taken from more, inconspicuous sites for the transplant, rather than large segments leaving noticeable scar patterns.
Read our blog on FUT vs FUE for more information.
Regardless of the version of hairline restoration chosen, they’re both considered effective. Transplanting hair follicles is a safe and effective way to return hair growth and hair function to an area where pattern hair loss has taken place.
That’s not to say it comes without complications. Hair grafts — like organ transplants — can fail, and do in some cases.
But for the most part, this is considered rare.
That said, hairline restoration is still an invasive, surgical procedure with a higher likelihood of complications than medication — that’s never not going to be the case when you’re removing flesh.
Medical professionals also consider it a last resort, and most recommend that it be done later in life. In fact, many medical professionals won’t perform a hairline restoration on anyone under 25 because at that age, hair loss is still relatively unpredictable.
And then there are the side effects to consider.
Restorations can cause ingrown hairs, cysts and even types of hair loss like telogen effluvium, where the sudden stress of the surgery actually causes temporary hair loss until your body recovers.
In addition to the risks of infection, rejection, complications and other issues brought on by a surgical approach to restoration, the truth is that the main concern you face when undergoing this surgery is that your expectations are probably not going to align with what you get for a result.
Your hair is never going to look exactly the way it did before you lost it, and it will have imperfections due to the surgery and the difference in hair textures from your head to your body.
In addition to bleeding, infection, and rejection, people with certain conditions and diseases like autoimmune diseases can create additional layers of complication for hair restoration.
Your healthcare provider will also look for signs of disease, inflammation, dry scalp and redness that might indicate a hairline transplant might not be effective.
And sometimes, the transplant doesn’t even work at all, leading to wasted follicles, scars and medical bills with nothing to show for them.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
It’s hard to pin down an exact cost for a hairline restoration surgery, and that’s not just because procedures differ in complexity.
The fact is that many elements go into a final price tag for hairline restoration, and one of those is where you’re reading this right now.
The location where you’re having the surgery, the cost of living, or leasing a medical facility — all of these things factor into how a surgeon will ultimately price your procedure, and that’s before we consider their surgical experience or the extent of your hair loss.
It’s going to cost much less to touch up a small dip in your hairline in Topeka, Kansas than it will to recreate a hairline from scratch in Manhattan.
What we can say is that the range may start with a couple thousand dollars and head well into the tens of thousands range — anecdotal evidence shows procedures can cost $25,000 or more in some circumstances.
Worse yet, hairline transplants are considered elective procedures — your insurance typically does not pay for it.
If you ultimately do go down the transplant route, you could be seeing bills that represent an entire household income in some places.
If you’re looking for alternatives to hair restoration surgery, there are plenty of effective and safe approaches that you should consider that cost much less than surgery.
Making changes to your lifestyle, reducing stress and improving your diet to give your body the best conditions for growing hair that it can have. You should also make sure you’re not deficient in vitamins A, D and biotin, which are crucial for hair follicle function.
Once you’ve exhausted these areas, consider medications like topical minoxidil, which studies show increases hair thickness and volume for many patients when used as directed.
There are more options, too — talk to a healthcare provider about what might help you.
Hair transplants may seem like a one-and-done solution to male pattern baldness, but there’s really a lot involved with the process — selecting which type of surgery you’d like to have (FUE vs. FUT), finding a surgeon, securing payment, preparing for recovery, etc.
Hair restoration surgery is certainly effective, but for many people, there are alternatives out there that probably make more sense — diet and lifestyle changes, certain medications, proper hair care, etc.