Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/29/2022
Pattern baldness. It’s enough to send a shiver down the spine of any man of any age. You want to do something about it — but how?
But pattern baldness doesn’t need to be a dead-end when it comes to your hair game.
What are hair plugs? How much do they cost? How long do they last? Let’s dig in.
Hair plugs are a type of hair restoration procedure. They’re a cosmetic surgical procedure employed to treat and reverse hair loss. Up until recently, hair plugs were typically grafted onto a person’s scalp.
The procedure involves a surgeon grafting strips of skin onto the bald part of a person’s head. The newly grafted skin comes with newly grafted healthy hair follicles.
Earlier versions of hair plugs often yielded an odd appearance, once healed.
Over time, however, surgeons have begun to use smaller and smaller grafts — “mini grafts” — to benefit the appearance of the patient’s hair.
Although, post-operation, some scalps looked restored to their youthful selves, others would display hair growing in multiple directions that, to the naked eye, looked off.
Over time, however, those same procedures have grown more precise in their implementation and execution.
Today, in fact, the results are largely satisfactory to those seeking out hair restoration.
So, satisfaction aside, are hair plugs an effective hair restoration procedure?
We get it. You take all the time to prepare, do your research and then undergo a procedure like hair plugs. You want these babies to last as long as possible.
But can we gauge future hair loss when it comes to hair plugs? In short, there’s no one answer to that question.
Hair follicles have lives of their own once transported and invigorated newly onto a previously bald part of your scalp.
As a result, they evolve as your body evolves. Consequently, there’s no predicting how long your hair plugs will last.
Data has shown that hair plugs take a few months to take root. Hair shedding in the immediate aftermath of the procedure is normal.
But far as the lifespan of the plugs themselves is concerned, it’s a matter of monitoring their evolution on your scalp.
This amount of uncertainty regarding hair plugs leads to the current state of hair restoration procedures.
Although there are many types of hair restoration procedures, since the 1980s, hair plugs have taken a back seat to new surgical tools.
While plugs were the first wave when it came to hair restorative, surgeons have developed procedures that have produced better lasting — and more aesthetically pleasing — results.
Since we’ve just given you an overview of hair plugs, here’s what you need to know about hair transplantation.
In modern hair transplantation, surgeons take healthy follicles from donation sites on the body and add them onto a patient’s bald area — a few healthy hairs at a time.
The two most popular hair transplantation procedures are:
In FUT, surgeons use a single-strip harvesting technique and stereo-microscopic dissection, using many individual hair follicles.
FUT also gives the surgeon more precision in their work, allowing for better, more natural-looking results.
FUE is a procedure in which skin grafts are extracted. A surgeon uses one-millimeter punches to separate hair follicles from surrounding tissue, after which the hair follicles are extracted from the patient and transferred to the balding area, one follicle at a time.
FUE’s popularity has overtaken FUT’s because a patient’s hair pattern and hair density aren’t critical in an optimal outcome for the procedure itself.
Also, because surgeons use individual follicles instead of strips of skin with follicles, FUE results in less-to-no scarring on the individual.
“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.”
Some folks don’t want to spend the money or recovery time on a hair plug procedure. We get that. Invasive surgery can be unnerving, to say the least.
The good news is that there’re a ton of options to restore your hair density, do something about that growing bald spot, or just take care of that receding hairline without having to step foot in a surgeon’s office.
Here are a few options to consider when thinking of giving your hair a boost:
Minoxidil: Sold under the brand name Rogaine®, minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical medication that’s believed to work by stimulating blood flow to the affected parts of your scalp, thereby encouraging growth.
Finasteride: Sold under the brand name Propecia®, finasteride is another science-backed, FDA-approved oral medication taken in pill-form or to treat hair loss. It’s known as a DHT-blocker. DHT is short for dihydrotestosterone, which has been proven to be a key factor in male pattern baldness.
Dutasteride: Another hair loss treatment in pill form that’s proven effective in beating back hair loss. Like finasteride, it’s typically prescribed in doses of 5 milligrams, and it is intended for daily use. It’s important to note, however, that Dutasteride is not FDA approved for hair loss.
Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLP) has proven to be an efficacious alternative to the typical pills, solutions and transplant procedures available to those seeking to renew the thickness and quantity of hair. Can you believe someone thought of strapping a light to someone’s scalp to stimulate hair growth? Well, they did, and the results have been encouraging.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): This procedure involves injecting platelet-rich plasma samples from a patient’s blood into a targeted area for a specific medical purpose — and a desired medical outcome. In the case of hair regrowth, PRP can stimulate hair regrowth after a hair transplant procedure has occurred.
Adenosine: Adenosine is a natural substance whose purpose is relaxing blood vessels. However, it’s also been shown in trials that adenosine aids hair regrowth.
Ketoconazole: This antifungal medication, when used topically, has been found to stimulate hair follicles and aid in hair regrowth.
“Self-care” has evolved into a catchword of sorts for some time now.
When it comes to taking care of the strength and vitality of your hair, we’ve learned that there are many tools in the proverbial box from which to pick.
Even better, those same tools have been studied for decades now, proving that they aren’t snake oil. They work.
We’ve learned that hair plugs carry with them a certain level of effectiveness (and cost, and time, and recovery) that you — the consumer — should carefully weigh before making one decision or another.
However, what’s so encouraging is that if hair plugs aren’t the way for you to go, there are plenty of other easy, accessible solutions from which to choose.
And taking care of your needs — like hair — just might be one of those ways to feel just a little bit better — a little calmer, a little more confident.