With more and more men turning to hair transplantation to reverse their hair loss, it’s a fair question to ask: Since a hair transplant moves hair from one area to another, does it therefore thin out your hair?
The answer is “Yes, but…”.
How a Hair Transplant Works
Hair transplant surgery restores your own natural hair. There are different procedures to achieve this. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), often referred to as the Strip Method, relies on a strip of hair that is surgically removed from the back of your head and separated into its individual follicles that are then transplanted to the recipient area. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) does not require a surgical incision but rather relies on modern technology such as NeoGraft or Artas to extract individual hair follicles from the donor area using pneumatic pressure. The transplantation of the follicles into the recipient area occurs in the same way for FUE as it does with FUT.
Does that mean you end up with thinner hair after a hair transplant? No. Your hair is simply moved from one area of the head to another. Overall, it’s a zero sum game and you are left with the same amount of hair.* But for your hair to become thicker in the balding areas of your scalp, it has to become thinner in another.
All Hair Loss is not Equal: Male Pattern Baldness
However, the nature of hair loss, and male pattern baldness specifically, gives a big assist: Balding, particularly in men, does not occur uniformly. Rather, the typical progression of hair loss begins with a receding hairline and moves across the top of the head to eventually affect the entire crown, or top of the head. In most men, a ring of hair remains around the sides and back of the head. This hair is typically resistant to hair loss.
It’s ironic that we should be thankful for the nature of male pattern baldness to make hair transplantation possible, since premature baldness is to blame for the problem in the first place. But if men lost their hair more uniformly, hair restoration would be less straightforward (as it is for many women: women’s hair does indeed tend to thin out more uniformly).
What this means: As long as all the donor hair is extracted only from the area of the back of the head that’s not affected by hair loss, you will not notice the difference. Since this area has not been thinned out by hair loss, you can spare the extra hair easily, and the difference in density won’t be noticeable.
What’s more, your new hair, i.e. the hair on top of your head where you were previously balding, will not fall out again like the hair that was originally there. Because the new follicles are harvested from the area that is safe from hair loss, the new follicles will also be safe from hair loss. While some hair loss occurs in all of us, your new hair growth should last well into advanced age.
The Art of Hair Restoration is not Just About Thick Hair
In the area where your surgeon is implanting the hair to, you will of course never reach the same density as before (which, for healthy hair, is over 90 follicular units per square centimeter). It will likely amount to something like 40 follicular units per square centimeter. But a skilled transplant technician can implant the follicles in such a way that the results look very close to the original density.
It is important to choose an experienced hair clinic and/or hair restoration technician, especially if you opt for the FUE procedure. It is easier to confine a strip of hair to the precise area of the scalp not affected by hair loss, whereas the extraction of donor hair during FUE will have to be carefully planned to not stray into lower-density areas. On the plus side, FUE leaves you with no scar whatsoever, which is why so many patients prefer this method.
Do you have any more questions about hair transplants? The Nashville Hair Doctor is here to help. Request an Online Quote if you’d like to know what a hair transplant would look like for you.
* During hair transplantation, not all hair follicles “take” to the new location. The rate at which hair grafts are unsuccessful during transplantation is called the transection rate. It is typically fairly small, but if you factor in the transection rate, a hair transplant does indeed thin out your hair by a small amount. However, the overall effect of hair transplantation is so positive for most patients that this should not discourage you from undergoing hair restoration.