For many men, hair loss is an emotional subject and the urge to act can make us feel vulnerable and lead to impulsive decision making.
It's important to remember that a hair transplant is a surgical procedure and the results, good or bad, will be with you for the rest of your life.
Imagine how devastated you'd be if you ended up with a botched operation, for example, if the transplant didn't take, or you had over-harvesting from a donor area resulting in bald patches.
For this reason, there’s no such thing as too much research or asking too many questions. Too much knowledge is better than too little.
Here are the top 6 questions that we think should be on the top of your list when you're doing your diligence.
Why should I use this surgeon?
Choosing the right surgeon is the most important decision that you will make.
You need to ensure that you find someone who has the necessary qualifications and experience to perform the operation.
We’ve all heard of horror stories of botched operations, many from abroad in countries such as Turkey. Be very careful when searching the internet for clinics that offer hair transplants.
Some pay to advertise their services on search listings and at first sight look appealing. However, many do not have the necessary expertise and have a poor record of customer satisfaction.
As a starting point, check that the clinic is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which is mandatory for all independent clinics.
Also check the British Association of Plastic Reconstruction and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) website to see if the surgeon has "full member" status for plastic surgery.
Ahead of the operation you should meet your surgeon in person. This will allow you to ask important questions.
These include their qualifications and experience, the number of transplants they have performed (and where there have been complications) and the type of transplant they would recommend for you.
As a rule of thumb, choose a surgeon who is more focused on you and making sure the operation goes well, rather than one who focuses on quoting statistics and prices at you.
Is there anything that will improve my hair transplant?
Some surgeons recommend starting medical hair restoration treatment for at least a year before a hair transplant. These treatments slow down hair loss and provide more hair for your transplant.
There are two treatments that have been regulatory approved, both of which are highly effective at preventing hair loss, and in some cases, regrow hair that has been lost.
These treatments are Minoxidil, a topical spray applied twice daily, and Finasteride, an oral tablet taken daily. You can purchase both here
As a hair transplant simply moves hair from a donor area to a recipient area, it will not prevent thinning and baldness that would have otherwise been the case.
For this reason, following the operation, many patients continue to use these treatments, to preserve the results of the procedure and prevent further hair loss.
Which hair transplant procedure is best for me?
There are two main types of hair transplant, FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation).
These groups of hairs are typically extracted from the sides of the head or back of the neck, using a specialised extraction instrument less than 1mm in diameter.
These follicles are then transferred to the recipient area of the scalp and implanted using a powerful stereo microscope.
With FUT surgery, instead of taking individual follicles from the donor site on the scalp, your hair transplant surgeon cuts away a strip of them.
This strip is then divided up into single follicles or small groups which are inserted as with the FUE procedure into the recipient area.
Your surgeon should walk through all three options with you and then advise you on which is the most appropriate for what you are seeking to achieve.
How much does a hair transplant cost?
A hair transplant in the UK can cost anywhere between £1,000 and £30,000, depending on the extent of hair loss, the type of procedure, and the quality of the clinic and its team.
You will be able to get a more precise cost estimate once you have had a consultation with your surgeon and decided how you wish to proceed.
The overall density you are seeking to achieve will have a large bearing on total price. The greater the density, the greater the number of grafts that will have to be taken.
More than one operation may be needed if the thinning and balding area is sufficiently large.
Will I need time off work after my hair transplant surgery?
The speed at which you return to work is generally at your discretion i.e. the operated area may be red for a few days so it’s whether you’re comfortable with anyone knowing you’ve had a hair transplant.
In general, men return to work about 3 days after the operation, after any post-operation swelling has subsided.
Many men choose to have their transplant a the start of a week’s holiday or during a period where it is quiet at work such as the Christmas holiday period.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results of your hair transplant surgery right away. It takes time to see the results due to the natural hair growth cycle.
After a few weeks the transplanted hair will often fall out, and later start to grow back. You should expect news hairs to appear after about 4 months, with the full effect visible after 12 months.
Will I need another hair transplant procedure in the future?
After the operation, the transplanted hair taken from the safe donor area should not thin as it behaves in a similar way to the hair from where it was taken.
However, the areas where there is thinning will continue to shed hair as this is down to genetics. The hair in that area will continue to miniaturise and eventually disappear.
This means that another hair transplant may at some point become appropriate. Theoretically, there is no limit on the number of transplants that you can undergo, the average being 2-4 surgeries is a lifetime.
However, there may be factors which prevent the viability of further operations, such as whether you have sufficient hair available in the donor area to adequately cover the new thinning and balding areas.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
Written by Dr. Mike Firth, GP and Medical Director
If you have any follow-up questions don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org