90 Day Money Back Guarantee. Start Growing Hair

Hair Transplants: Cost, Time and Side Effects

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 2/14/2022

Two in three U.S. men will experience some hair loss by the age of 35, and by age 50, approximately 85 percent will have “significantly thinning hair,” according to the American Hair Loss Association. In other words, there’s a good chance you’re part of this club. 

And whether you’re just beginning to notice your hair thinning or if you’ve got a shiny bald spot, it’s likely affecting your daily life, making you self-conscious and possibly affecting your self-esteem, according to the journal, Current Medical Research and Opinion.

Luckily, there are plenty of options out there if you’re interested in reclaiming some of the hair you’ve lost to time and life.

Hair transplants are one of those options.

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 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 may be able to give you a thicker, fuller head of hair.

Originally, hairline transplants involved removing and transplanting hairs using "plugs," which were groups of several hair follicles in clusters.

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," ​according to an article published in the journal, Clinical, Cosmetic, Investigational Dermatology.​​​

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 and the ability for hair growth on the areas of your scalp that need it.

buy finasteride

more hair... there's a pill for that

Types of Hair Transplant Procedures 

There are two generally accepted approaches to hair transplants: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Each method produces a similar result, albeit witha few differences.

FUE Hair Transplant

FUE is a more recent development in hair restoration surgery. It involves removing singular follicular units — or individual hair follicles — and transplanting them to a new area. To do this, the surgeon uses very small “micro punches” to remove the hairs from the scalp with minimal scarring, according to an article published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery

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 method" hair transplant scar.

FUT Hair Transplant

FUT involves harvesting a strip of healthy hair from a donor area on your head, generally near the back where it is less noticeable. This strip of donor hair is moved to the thinning part of the scalp and attached. 

The advantage of FUT is that, according to an article published in the World Journal of Plastic Surgery, transplanted hairs have a higher survival 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 head that’s visible with some short or shaved haircuts. It is also important to note that the success of either procedure depends on the surgeon or dermatologist performing the cosmetic surgery.

Understandably, FUE can take longer than FUT and is often most suitable for smaller areas of treatment. However, 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 natural-looking results in the hairline and crown area.

How Do Hair Transplants Work

Both FUT and FUE hair transplant surgeries are done in an outpatient setting. You’ll generally receive local anesthesia to numb your scalp but will remain awake during the surgery. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates the procedures take anywhere from four to eight hours, and some transplants could take a few sessions over more than a single day.

The procedure involves removing the healthy hair and transplanting it to the affected area. After, you may be bandaged and provided with details on how to care for the surgical site at home. 

How Much Do Hair Transplants Cost 

Ballpark estimates are anywhere from $,000 to upwards of $15,000 or even more. However, as with any medical procedure, how much you pay for hair transplant surgery depends on numerous factors, including: the local market (or where you live and where you have your surgery performed), whether you opt for FUT or FUE, whether you have to travel for your surgery, the surgeon you choose and the complexity of your case. 

Because hair transplant surgery is generally considered cosmetic, it’s unlikely your insurance company will help pay for it. If your hair loss is due to an illness or injury, however, coverage may be possible. If you’re looking at hair transplant surgery, the best thing to do is contact your insurance company to see about your options for coverage.

Recovery Time and Post-Surgical Care 

In addition to financial costs, there are physical costs to any surgery. If you’re bandaged, you’ll need to be cautious when removing the dressings at home, as they can stick to the wounds. 

You’ll also experience swelling in the origin and areas of the scalp where the hair has been transplanted. Your plastic surgeon may give you steroids to lessen this effect. 

You’ll be able to gently wash your hair two to three days after the procedure, but will likely be cautioned against wearing pullover shirts (including t-shirts) for several weeks. 

Your doctor may also start you on a topical minoxidil regimen post-surgery, though you’ll want to follow their instructions closely as any topical product could cause irritation at the surgical sites.

Recovery time varies on whether you opted for FUT or FUE. In FUT procedures, you can expect your surgical areas to heal in two to three weeks and you can resume regular activity in a similar amount of time. In FUE, your surgical sites can heal in one to two weeks and you can resume regular physical activity then, according to an article published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery.

Hair Transplants Complications and Disclaimers

Your surgeon will discuss the possible complications in hair transplant surgery with you. Common complications may include:

  • Pain and swelling 

  • Infection

  • Scarring 

  • Cyst development at the suture site

  • Bleeding 

  • Anesthesia complications

  • Heart problems during surgery

  • Patient dissatisfaction

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

  • If your hair is genetically sensitive to DHT, it may 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.

  • 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 hairline 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.

Hair Transplant Alternatives

While surgery is a possible course of action for hair restoration, there are less invasive (and more affordable) options that have also been shown to work — and they don’t require you to go under the knife. 

Two medications are approved by the FDA to treat hair loss in men and have been shown to be effective: minoxidil and finasteride. These hair loss treatments can slow hair loss and increase hair density, according to an article published in the Journal of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery. Both drugs — minoxidil, which is typically applied topically, and finasteride, which is taken orally — are backed by years of scientific research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

There is also a topical finasteride option available. If you’re not ready to commit to taking a pill every day for hair health, applying a topical solution directly to your scalp may be the right option for you. Additionally, topical finasteride is also backed by research that says it works just as well as the oral option (according to an article published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.)

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Most popular

Topical Finasteride

If a pill feels like an overwhelming way to treat male pattern hair loss, this spray with finasteride & minoxidil could be for you.

Minoxidil Solution

Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.

Finasteride & Minoxidil

This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.

Oral Finasteride

If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.

Minoxidil Foam

Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.




The Final Word on Hair Transplants

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. 

Hair restoration surgery can be effective for men looking to take back their luscious locks, but it’s not without its caveats. It’s costly, it can take some time to heal and the process can be somewhat exhausting (and perhaps a bit painful). But the results are real, and they generally work.

Want to take action today? 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.

19 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Bergfeld, et al. (1998, October). Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. finasteride male pattern hair loss study group. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9777765
  2. Blume-Peytavi, et al & Topical Finasteride Study Group (2022). Efficacy and safety of topical finasteride spray solution for male androgenetic alopecia: a phase III, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 36(2), 286–294. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.17738 Complications. Stanford Health Care (SHC) - Stanford Medical Center. (2017, September 12). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/h/hair-replacement-surgery/complications.html
  3. Dua, A., & Dua, K. (2010, May). Follicular unit extraction hair transplant. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956961/
  4. García, et al. (n.d.). The psychosocial impact of hair loss among men: A Multinational European study. Current medical research and opinion. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16307704/
  5. Gorur, et al. (2014, October). Complications of hair restoration surgery: A retrospective analysis. International journal of trichology. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4212293/
  6. Guest, K. (2020, November 16). Hair transplant cost. Kurtzman Plastic Surgery. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://kurtzmanplasticsurgery.com/hair-transplant-cost/
  7. Hair replacement surgery. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/hair-replacement-surgery
  8. A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural-looking results. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-transplant
  9. Harvesting of donor hair for hair transplants. ISHRS. (2019, March 19). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://ishrs.org/2003/10/01/harvesting-of-donor-hair-for-hair-transplants/
  10. History of hair transplant surgery. Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration. (2019, October 24). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.bernsteinmedical.com/hair-transplant/resources/history/
  11. Humayun Mohmand, M., & Ahmad, M. (2018, May). Effect of follicular unit extraction on the donor area. World journal of plastic surgery. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066700/
  12. Khanna, M. (2008, October). Hair transplantation surgery. Indian journal of plastic surgery : official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825128/
  13. Küçüktaş Murat. (2017, May 3). Complications of hair transplantation. IntechOpen. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.intechopen.com/books/hair-and-scalp-disorders/complications-of-hair-transplantation
  14. Lim, J. (2017, September 6). Hair transplants costs, prices, financing. DocShop. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/hair-loss/financing
  15. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 27). Mayo Clinic Q and a: Hair transplant treatment for hair loss - Mayo Clinic News Network. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-hair-transplant-treatment-for-hair-loss/
  16. men's hair loss. American Hair Loss Association - men's hair loss / introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/introduction.html
  17. Rose, P. T. (2015, July 15). Hair restoration surgery: Challenges and solutions. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4507484/
  18. An update on hair restoration - imedpub.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://aesthetic-reconstructive-surgery.imedpub.com/an-update-on-hair-restoration.pdf
  19. Wondering what hair restoration technique is right for you? ABCS president, dr. Sobel, weighs in. ABCS. (2018, September 10). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/wondering-what-hair-restoration-technique-is-right-for-you-abcs-president-dr-sobel-weighs-in/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.