One of the most well known hair restoration techniques, and one that many patients ask us about, is the hair transplant.  Hair transplants are advertised as the only permanent solution for hair restoration, so they are a very intriguing option for patients.  Unfortunately, women are typically not great candidates for hair transplants due to the type of hair loss that they have.

What is a hair transplant?

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure where hair follicles are surgically removed from the back of the scalp and planted into desired areas on the top of the scalp.  There are two types, Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or Strip Method and the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method.  With the FUT, a strip of grafts about 2 CMs wide and 15 to 20 CMs long in the back of the scalp (donor area) is extracted and then the individual follicles are cut up and planted on the top of the scalp.  With the FUE, each follicle is extracted individually using a small punch and then planted.  Typically hair transplants last anywhere from 5 to 8 hours and the patient is awake during the procedure, but does receive local anesthesia to numb the scalp.  While everyone’s pain tolerance is different, the procedure can be painful and the recovery period is one to two weeks depending on the type of hair transplant.  On average, a hair transplant will cost around $6,000 and often patients will need more than on surgery to get the desired density.

Are women good candidates for hair transplants? 

The reason a hair transplant is considered a permanent hair loss solution is because with male pattern hair loss the hair in the back of the scalp is typically stable hair.  The vast majority of men never lose that hair even when they lose all the hair on the top of their head.  This stable hair is considered the donor area and when transplanted to other areas of the head it will stay stable and typically will not be lost in the future.  However, female pattern hair loss is more diffuse, meaning the hair loss occurs throughout the scalp, even the typical donor area.  That means the transplanted hair could be lost in the future.  Women also tend to be more susceptible to the phenomenon of shock loss, which is post-surgical hair loss.  While this loss is typically temporary, there can be a significant amount of loss throughout the scalp after surgery.

Are any women good candidates for hair transplants?

Women that are experiencing scarring alopecia could be good candidates for a hair transplant, especially when the loss occurs with the frontal hair line. Since scarring tends to be in an isolated area the donor site should be unaffected.  A patient with scarring alopecia would need the affected area to be stable for at least one year, and preferably longer, and they would likely need to continue medical therapy for the underlying scarring alopecia to keep it under control.

What options do women have if they do not get a hair transplant?

The good news is that even though women are not great candidates for hair transplants, there are still great treatment options available to them.  For a patient with female pattern hair loss, a treatment plan consisting of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), and Formula 82M should not only stop further loss, but should make existing hair thicker and hopefully activate dormant follicles to regrow some hair.

If you are experiencing any signs of hair loss the first step is to meet with a hair loss specialist that can help you find the best treatment options for your unique needs.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team