A hair transplant is one of the most effective ways to treat thinning hair. FUE and FUT hair transplants can restore your hair to its original thickness, which is why they’re the most popular hair restoration procedures.
Most hair thinning is caused by hereditary hair loss. 81.1% of all hair transplants are performed on people with genetic hair loss — so if your hair is thinning thanks to an inherited hairline, a hair transplant could be the right option for you .
But there are many other reasons why your hair may be thinning. Hair transplants aren’t always appropriate — so it’s important to get the right diagnosis before opting for surgery. Find out when a hair transplant works for thinning hair below.
Causes of thinning hair
The most common causes of thinning hair include:
- Hair loss conditions like male pattern baldness
- Poor haircare
- Stress and mental health conditions.
In the early stages of hair loss, it’s not always easy to tell if your hair is thinning or if you’re paranoid. Addressing hair loss early often makes it easier to treat, so if in doubt, get a diagnosis from a hair loss specialist.
When to consider a hair transplant for thinning hair
A hair transplant is usually suitable for patients with genetic hair loss; reconstructive needs; previous hair transplant repair; or transgender requirements . The overwhelming majority of hair transplants are chosen by people with androgenetic alopecia; a type of genetic hair loss commonly known as male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss.
Hair transplants work when hair is thinning at the root, rather than along the hair shaft. If you have long hair and you notice thinning at the ends but not at the scalp, you’re more likely to have hair breakage than true hair thinning. In these cases, a hair transplant is unlikely to be effective.
Is it the right time to get a hair transplant for hair thinning?
Hair transplants are a great option for those with thinning hair. But depending on the extent of your hair loss, there may be other non-surgical treatments you can try first.
Hair transplants are only usually considered for people at stage 3 or later on the Norwood Scale, or advanced stage 1 on the Ludwig Scale. If your hair loss hasn’t progressed this far, other treatments like Minoxidil or Finasteride may be worth considering first.
While it can be too early to get a hair transplant, it’s also possible to leave it too late. If you put off getting a hair transplant, your thinning may reach a stage where it’s difficult to get the coverage you need (for example, if you develop retrograde alopecia). Find out when it’s too late for a hair transplant.
When is hair transplant not suitable?
Some hair loss patients aren’t eligible for a hair transplant. This is usually the case for people with :
- Scarring alopecia
- Alopecia areata — learn more about hair transplants for alopecia areata
- Insufficient hair loss
- Unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Certain other psychological issues.
If your hair is thinning and any of the above apply to you, a hair transplant may not be suitable. Very young patients and those who are medically unfit for surgery are also ineligible .
If your hair thinning is due to lifestyle factors (such as stress and poor haircare), your hair will normally become thicker by itself when the underlying cause is addressed. So there’s no need for a hair transplant in these instances — your hair will eventually regrow without surgical intervention.
Can a hair transplant treat hair breakage?
Hair breakage is often mistaken for hair thinning, especially in women and people with longer hair. Breakage happens when your hair shafts get damaged, causing the ends to snap off. If this happens in large volumes, it can lead to hair looking noticeably thinner at the ends.
Thin hair ends due to poor haircare practices.
Hair transplants replace hair you’ve lost from the root. So if your hair follicles are healthy but your hair strands are snapping off, a hair transplant won’t make a difference.
Many hair treatments and styling practices lead to hair breakage. 40% of people who had chemical hair straightening reported their hair was thinner and weaker afterwards . More common practices, such as blow drying and using hair straighteners and curlers, also cause bulges and dents in your hair strands, as well as hair thinning .
If your hair is thinning at the ends but healthy at the roots, visit your hairdresser for a haircut to make your hair look thicker and healthier. Avoid heat styling your hair to preserve your healthy new tresses. Learn more about fixing heat-damaged hair.
Alternatives to a hair transplant for thinning hair
If your hair is thinning at the root but you’re not sure if a hair transplant is right for you, there are other options to try:
- Minoxidil — a topical solution (known as Regaine in the UK) you should apply to your scalp twice a day
- DHT blockers — oral medication that can slow and even prevent genetic hair loss in men. Try Finasteride, Dutasteride, or even natural DHT blockers
- Spironolactone — oral medication used to treat female pattern hair loss, especially in women with hair loss related to polycystic ovary syndrome
- Essential oils for hair loss — some essential oils have shown promising hair restoration results in clinical trials
- Vitamin E — vitamin E is the only hair growth supplement proven to help restore hair in people without a vitamin deficiency . Learn more about vitamin E and hair growth.
Each of these treatments has varying levels of success depending on the cause and extent of your hair loss, as well as your response to the treatment.
If these treatments don’t work, or you want to see more improvement in your thinning areas, a hair transplant may be the best option.
Getting a hair transplant for thinning hair: where to start
First, take a look at your chosen clinic’s hair transplant before and after photos and hair transplant reviews to get an idea of the results you can expect. Then speak to a reputable hair transplant consultant who will give you free, honest advice about your eligibility, and the results you can expect from your procedure.
- ISHRS Practice Census 2022
- Is Every Patient of Hair Loss a Candidate for Hair Transplant?—Deciding Surgical Candidacy in Pattern Hair Loss
- Hair Cosmetics: An Overview
- Hair Styling Procedures and Hair Morphology: A Clinico-Microscopic Comparison Study
- Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers
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