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Is a Hair Transplant The Best Solution for Hair Loss?

Is a Hair Transplant The Best Solution for Hair Loss?

When most people hear the words "hair transplant," a certain image pops into their mind: fake, “pluggy” looking hair that’s obviously the result of a cosmetic procedure rather than a natural hairline.

Unfortunately, hair transplants have a bad reputation. This is because of the old, 1980s "hair plug" procedures, which transplanted hairs in plugs of several follicles and created an unusual, unnatural-looking hairline.

The reality is that today’s hair transplant technology allows you to add thickness to your hair and fill in a receding hairline without the fake, plug-like look of older treatments.

However, hair transplants aren’t miracles, and there are still potential downsides that you should be aware of.

In this guide, we’ll explain how modern hair transplants work and how they can be used to fill in your hairline and reverse the effects of male pattern baldness. We’ll also cover the downsides of hair transplants and explain how some of the limitations of the procedure could affect you.

If you’re considering getting a hair transplant, the information below can help you make a more informed, confident decision about whether the procedure is the right option for you.

What Exactly is a Hair Transplant?

A hair transplant is a cosmetic procedure that involves harvesting hairs from a certain part of your scalp (called the "donor site") and transplanting them onto a different part of your scalp.

In short, getting a hair transplant means taking hair from areas of your scalp that aren’t affected by male pattern baldness and moving it to areas that are thinning or bald.

Hair transplants work because not all of the hair on your head is affected by DHT, the primary hormone that causes baldness. By moving DHT-resistant hairs from the back and sides of your head to the front, a hair transplant surgeon can give you a thicker, fuller head of hair.

Originally, hair transplants involved removing and transplanting hairs using "plugs," which were groups of several hair follicles with a round, clustered shape.

While hair plugs worked as a way to fill in a receding hairline, they typically looked unnatural due to the fact that hair grafts were grouped into separate areas, sometimes with a noticeable gap in between each "plug."

Today, hair transplants are much more sophisticated. Surgeons can harvest hairs using FUE or FUT methods (which we’ll explain a little further down the page) and transplant them in groups of one to three hairs, creating a hairline that looks and feels natural.

From an aesthetic perspective, a hair transplant performed by an experienced surgeon will look and feel just like a natural hairline, assuming you have enough donor hair available.

FUE vs. FUT: What’s The Difference?

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) are the two primary methods of harvesting hair follicles for a hair transplant.

Each method produces a similar result, albeit with a few differences. FUE involves extracting small "units" of one to four hairs from the scalp using a medical device. These hairs are then transplanted onto the top of the head to restore a hairline or provide extra thickness.

The advantage of FUE is that it doesn’t produce a large scar. Instead, it creates hundreds of tiny scars that are much less visible after healing, especially for people with light hair that might not be able to completely cover a traditional "strip" hair transplant scar.

FUT, on the other hand, involves removing a strip of skin from the back of the scalp. Hairs are extracted from this strip in groups of one to four. After extracting the hair follicles, the surgeon can transplant the hairs onto the top of the scalp to fill in the hairline or crown.

The advantage of FUT is that the transplanted hairs have a slightly higher success rate than hairs transplanted using the FUE method. However, the downside of FUT is that it creates a larger scar on the back of the scalp that’s visible with some short or shaved haircuts.

Minus the scarring -- which shouldn’t be visible if the hair on the back of your scalp is dark and thick -- both procedures produce the same aesthetic results in the hairline and crown area.

Is a Hair Transplant a Good Solution for Hair Loss?

If you have a receding hairline or diffuse hair loss and want to do something about it, getting a hair transplant could potentially be a good idea.

When performed by an experienced, skilled surgeon, a hair transplant can restore your hairline and give back the volume and thickness that you had in the past.

However, a hair transplant isn’t a miracle treatment, and it might not necessarily be a total cure for baldness. You also might not be able to get a full head of hair from a hair transplant, making it important that you have realistic expectations about the procedure.

Before you consider a hair transplant, you should know the following:

  • If your hair is genetically sensitive to DHT, it might continue to fall out after you get a hair transplant. This could mean that the hair around the transplanted areas gets thin, while the transplanted hair remains thick and healthy.
  • Because of this, most hair transplant surgeons will recommend using finasteride (and/or minoxidil and other hair loss prevention treatments) after your procedure to minimize the rate of further hair loss.
  • All hair transplant techniques, including FUE, produce scarring. The only difference is the size and shape of the scar(s). FUT produces one large scar, whereas FUE creates hundreds of small, distributed scars on the back of your scalp.
  • If you have thick, dark hair on the back of your scalp, the scar from a hair transplant will probably be completely invisible. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that people will see if it you decide to shave your head in the future.
  • A key factor in determining how your hair transplant will look is the skill and experience level of the surgeon. Choose a good surgeon and you’ll probably end up with a natural, great-looking hairline and a significant improvement in your appearance.
  • Like with all cosmetic procedures, it’s best to choose a surgeon that specializes in hair restoration instead of a general plastic surgeon that performs a wide range of different procedures.
  • A hair transplant doesn’t create new hair. Instead, it involves moving hairs you already have into a new location. If you’ve already lost most of your hair, you probably won’t be able to restore your original hairline and hair thickness with a transplant.
  • However, for most men, a hair transplant can produce a significant improvement in the appearance of your hair. Just make sure you have realistic expectations based on the amount of hair you still have left.

Should You Get a Hair Transplant?

Getting a hair transplant is a significant decision that requires research and patience. Like all medical procedures, it’s important that you understand the effects, costs and limitations of the procedure before you go ahead.

It’s also important to be realistic about what you can achieve with a hair transplant. If you’re completely bald, a hair transplant will probably produce an improvement, but it’s not going to give you a completely full head of hair.

However, if you have minor hair loss and plenty of donor hair, a hair transplant can help you reverse several years of hair loss and improve your appearance.

Just remember that getting a hair transplant doesn’t permanently end hair loss. You’ll still need to take a proactive approach to protecting and maintaining your hair after the procedure.

Before You Get a Hair Transplant, Preserve The Hair You Have

Getting a hair transplant can help you turn back the clock on years of hair loss. However, the most effective way to give yourself a fuller, thicker head of hair is to prevent your hair from falling out in the first place.

By taking a proactive approach to hair loss prevention and using treatments like finasteride, minoxidil and other hair loss prevention products, you can keep more of your hair and avoid having to get a hair transplant in the first place.

As a result, you’ll potentially be able to save the thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars you’d normally have to spend on a hair transplant.

Want to take action? Our guide to stopping a receding hairline explains the root cause of male pattern baldness and lists a range of tactics you can use to stop hair loss and keep as much of your hair as possible.

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.