Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/31/2022
For many men, the damage of hair loss is difficult to cope with, and there are only a few procedures available when things get desperate.
Sure, there are medications like finasteride and minoxidil that can help you keep the hair you have and even potentially get you back some of what you’ve lost, but many guys are looking for results as quickly as possible.
That alone may be enough for some men to look at hair transplant costs, shrug, and see hair transplant surgery as the next logical option.
A hair transplant procedure for your hairline is certainly an option, but it’s worth noting that this cosmetic procedure is a serious commitment, and the surgery is fairly invasive.
If you’re here looking into hairline transplants, consider this information before moving forward on one for yourself. Whether you’re dealing with androgenetic alopecia (a common type of hair loss), or something else, it’s worth exploring the options.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is a hairline transplant? Hairline transplantation or hair restoration surgery is the surgical process of moving individual hairs of hair from one location to another surgically.
This can be done by moving follicles from one location on your body where you don’t necessarily want or need the hair to the place where hair is desired.
Though this may sound simple, there’s a fair amount of complexity to how and where it’s done, and with what methodology.
There are two main techniques by which a hairline transplant can be carried out effectively: follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT).
Depending on which one you and your hair transplant surgeons decide on, results may be different and the procedure itself may be more or less complicated.
Of these two types of hair transplants, it is follicular unit transplantation that is considered efficient and faster.
FUT is a type of hair transplant performed by surgically removing a strip donor of skin with hair follicles, referred to as donor hair.
After that, the strip of donor hairs is separated and individually grafted into your hairline at the desired locations.
With efficiency comes some downsides, and in this case, it has to do with how much tissue is removed for hair grafts.
The large section of flesh removed can cause noticeable scarring wherever it was taken from. And while it may still give you a lush head of hair, this can be complicated by the possibility of infection due to a larger site of injury or trauma.
The less efficient technique, then, is follicular unit extraction — cutting out the big cuts.
Instead, each follicle or hair plug is individually extracted from the donor site and moved one at a time to the desired location—sort of like picking individual blades of grass, rather than moving a chunk of sod at a time.
The benefits here are smaller surgical sites and therefore smaller scars. Additionally, the chance of infection is reduced, and the healing speed is increased.
FUE patients tend to report less pain after surgery, and there’s less fear of the other complications to transplanted hairs that come with the first type of surgery.
There’s a final benefit to FUE: because the hairs have to be extracted one at a time anyway, they can be taken from multiple donor sites, which means fewer areas of major baldness after the procedure.
A few from the neckline here, a few from the back there—the changes are more subtle.
You could technically use this as a hair removal service as well—unwanted healthy hair in unwanted places going to a good home is nothing to complain about.
Hair transplants vary wildly in price for a variety of reasons.
Everything from the geographical location of where you’re getting the procedure done to the relative expertise and reputation of the professional conducting the procedure can have a drastic impact on cost.
Someone with just a couple years of experience in a place like Idaho is likely to cost much less than a 30-year veteran in a place like Los Angeles, where plastic surgery is a popular art form.
That being said, we can’t give you an exact cost.
The amount of hair, the type of the procedure and the other factors we mentioned above can push the price from just a couple thousand dollars all the way into the tens of thousands range—major procedures including more than a hairline touch up could cost $25,000 or more.
And since hair transplantation is considered an elective procedure, there’s no insurance benefit to be factored into hair transplant costs.
What that means is that you’re going to be your own navigator when it comes to finding an affordable option.
The hair transplant question is a difficult one to answer.
What we can tell you is that there are many reasons to consider it a last resort. Medical professionals won’t conduct one on anyone under 25, for instance, because of the unpredictability of hair loss below that age.
Experts also urge caution and management of expectations—it’s never going to look exactly the way it did before you lost your hair, and there will always be imperfections (as there likely were before you lost your hair in the first place).
Another thing you’ll want to consider: the donor site must be free of signs of hair loss, as those follicles may already be somewhat compromised if they’ve experienced thinning.
But most importantly, elective or cosmetic surgeries are generally considered a risk for cosmetic results.
There’s a low but still existent chance of serious complications, even with relatively safe procedures like hairline transplants.
Also, people with certain autoimmune diseases may not be good transplant candidates.
And the medical community will look at things like dry scalp and red patches on your skin as red flags that might indicate other diseases, which might make a hairline transplant an ineffective solution for your needs.
And the biggest issue of all: the transplant might not even work—it happens.
Hair restoration surgeries can cause serious ingrown hairs, cysts or even telogen effluvium—a condition whereby you lose hair based on trauma to the body, as sometimes happens with surgery.
Before you go under the knife, there’s more to be concerned with than the cost and risk factors of hair restoration procedures. You should consider every last option for hair regrowth before surgery.
These might include changes to your lifestyle, as poor diet and stress are among the many things known to cause an increased risk that you may develop certain types of hair loss.
Likewise, vitamins A, D and biotin may be helpful if you’re deficient.
It’s worth talking to a healthcare provider about these and other potential options if you’re open to trying the non-invasive route, first.
Extensive hair loss at the hairline isn’t something you have to live with, and if you have the money for a safe and effective hairline transplant under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional, it might be an option.
We’re the first people to call out gimmicks and unproven techniques for hair growth. Everything from laser combs and helmets to pumpkin seed oil or rosemary oil have been shown to offer “maybe” benefits in limited studies.
Hairline transplants are more effective than these things, but for a price — both financial and otherwise.
They’ll be able to give you information about what works best for many men, but also what will work best for your unique circumstances.
If that means going under the knife to achieve the look you want, do it the right way, with the right experts in your corner—otherwise, you may have more to lose than your hairline.