Hair Loss Surgery

The short answer is that anyone with androgenetic alopecia, that is male- or female-pattern baldness, is eligible to have a hair transplant. However, the more pertinent question is, should you get hair loss surgery?

Hair Thinning

There are several important factors to consider before deciding if surgery is right for you. First of all, you should realise that although it may improve the look of one section of your scalp for while, it does not actually ‘cure’ your baldness and the thinning process will continue even after the hair transplant is completed. Androgenetic alopecia is a genetic form of baldness which at this stage in medical history cannot be completely cured, though there are preventative medications which can slow the thinning process. A hair transplant will bring non-thinning hair from the sides and back of your scalp to other parts of your head. These newly transplanted hair grafts are DHT-immune, so the hairs will not recede. However, the rest of your hair will continue to bald just as it already has been. If you graft hair at the hairline or the crown of your scalp, over time the hair behind or beside it will begin to thin. If this occurs quickly, it may be necessary to have multiple graft surgeries. Once you don’t have a lot of donor hair left on the sides or back of your head, future grafts are not possible so you may have awkward bald patches forming behind or next to the hair grafts.

Stabilised Hair Loss in Men & Women

Due to this risk, the type of person who is best suited for a hair transplantation are men who have had male-pattern baldness for five or more years or are rated a 3 or higher on the Hamilton-Norwood hair loss scale. Anything under a 3 can make future hair loss unpredictable. By waiting until the hair has reached its plateau as with the person described above, the surgery can be properly used to replace thinning hair with minimal risk of future changing hairlines, however, this is a cosmetic surgery which will be a permanent, public change that will age with you so you must keep your expectations realistic. Also, know that if your hair loss is too advanced, beyond a 5 or 6 Hamilton-Norwood, then you may not have enough donor hair to fill in the bald areas and you are not qualified for this surgery.

Women are also able to get hair transplants, but it is more difficult to diagnose female-pattern baldness than male-pattern baldness and many other forms of alopecia are not suitable for hair transplants. Because half of the male population have androgenetic alopecia, it is assumed that the horse-shoe pattern baldness on a man is in fact male-pattern baldness. For women, the thinning process can be more subtle and many other factors can affect hair loss, so it is imperative that you firmly establish the cause of your receding hair before you undergo surgery. To do so, look at your genetic record to see if there is a history of female-pattern baldness in your family. Go to a dermatologist or physician to establish the extent of the hair loss, its progression, and to run tests for other problems which may cause hair loss. If the cause of your hair loss is temporary, then getting a hair transplant will result in an unnatural looking hairline when the hair regrows.

Genetic Hair Loss Patterns

Both men and women should consider their family history of hair loss to ensure they are not beginning the transplantation procedures too early. Look at other family members who had pattern baldness, the age they began losing their hair, the speed of its progression, and the pattern of the hair loss to ensure that when you have transplanted your hair you will still have a healthy looking scalp in 10 years. Also ensure that you will have enough hair on the sides and back of your head for future surgeries if necessary.

Hair Quality & Colour

Quality and colour of the hair can also influence the success of a hair transplant. It is best to have a scalp, which is similar in colour to the hair, like a pale person with blonde hair, because it is easier to see the scalp between hairs if there is a large contrast between hair and scalp colour.  Curly hair is also better for this type of operation because when it curls it covers more area per follicular unit transplanted so you need less grafts to cover more scalp.

Hair Trauma & Hair Loss Surgery

While conditions like alopecia areata and telogen effluvium are not acceptable for hair transplantations, there are other conditions in which it is appropriate. People who have lost their hair due to extensive burns or similar trauma are good candidates, assuming there is enough donor hair available, because the balding process will not continue after the hair grafts have been implanted.

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