Hair transplants are one of the most popular hair restoration methods. In 2021, more than 703,000 hair transplant procedures were performed around the world — a rise of 151% in the last decade [1-2].
Until recently, hair transplants haven’t had the best reputation. Bad hair transplants using outdated techniques and poor safety practices paint an ugly picture of what happens when a hair transplant doesn’t work. But with modern techniques and experienced surgeons, hair transplant success rates are sky-high. At the Wimpole Clinic, our hair transplant success rates are 97-100%.
So the simple answer is: yes, hair transplants work. When it’s successful, a hair transplant can last a lifetime. But the success of your hair transplant depends on how well you take care of your new hair grafts, the ability of your surgeon, and whether you’re actually eligible for a hair transplant in the first place.
What is graft survival rate?
Whether your hair transplant works depends on the survival rate of your transplanted hair grafts. Graft survival rate refers to the number of transplanted hair follicles that take root and produce new hair in the weeks and months following surgery.
It’s very rare for all your hair grafts to survive hair transplant surgery. Highly competent surgeons can achieve graft survival rates as high as 90% . But hair transplants with lower graft survival rates can still be considered successful if the patient gets the coverage and thickness they’re looking for.
Which type of hair transplant works best: FUT or FUE?
Both FUT and FUE hair transplants are very successful hair transplant treatments. The success rates for both types of procedure are very high, though some research suggests that FUT surgery has slightly higher graft survival rates [4-5]. Other studies, meanwhile, have found no significant difference in graft survival rates between FUE vs FUT [5-6].
Hair grafts are often damaged in the FUE harvesting process. Lots of factors can impact graft survival, including :
- The size, shape, and sharpness of the punch
- Using the punch with too much or too little force
- The direction and orientation of the punch.
That’s why it’s essential to choose a skilled surgeon who can choose and use the right tools for your hair transplant — especially if you opt for FUE surgery. Using a small punch size can also avoid triggering hair transplant trypophobia. Find out how to find the best hair transplant surgeon.
Graft survival rate isn’t the only consideration when choosing between FUT and FUE surgery. There’s also hair transplant cost, recovery time, and the risk of scarring to think about. And because the research into the different graft survival rates for FUE and FUT is far from conclusive, these other factors should arguably be more important to prospective patients.
Take a look at our before and after gallery to see patients who have undergone FUE and FUT hair transplants.
When won’t a hair transplant work?
Hair transplants are usually successful under the right circumstances — but not everyone is suitable for a hair transplant. This is mostly related to the cause of your hair loss. A hair transplant is unlikely to work or be suitable if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Temporary hair loss conditions like telogen effluvium, or hair loss related to trichotillomania
- Autoimmune hair loss conditions such as alopecia areata
- Conditions that cause total or severe loss of body hair such as alopecia universalis, as grafts are taken from areas with healthy hair growth on your body
- Hair loss related to poor haircare and styling, such as traction alopecia or heat-related hair loss
Severe scarring on your scalp.
What can prevent a hair transplant from working?
Even if you’re an optimal hair transplant candidate, hair transplants don’t always work. A failed hair transplant is usually due to one or more of the following:
- Hair transplant conducted by an inexperienced or unskilled surgeon
- Poor surgical technique, such as transplanting hairs in the wrong direction
- Using outdated hair restoration techniques — learn more about the history of hair loss treatments
- Trauma or damage to the transplanted grafts
- Hair transplant infection or other complications.
How to make sure your hair transplant works
Getting a hair transplant is a big investment in your appearance and your confidence. From the research stage through to recovery, here’s what you can do to ensure your hair transplant works.
Hair transplant success starts at the hair transplant clinic research stage. You need to find a clinic and surgeon with the skill, knowledge, and experience to provide you with a quality hair transplant.
Many prospective hair transplant patients are seduced by cut-rate hair transplant clinics in Turkey or the UK. But these are often a false economy. Safety and quality are often compromised to offer cheap hair transplants, which can lead to the need for repair transplants, or additional procedures until you get the result you want. Learn whether hair transplants are safe.
Our hair transplant cost analysis found many questionable clinics operating throughout the UK. Choosing a high-quality clinic with an experienced, highly competent surgeon makes it far more likely that your hair transplant will work — saving you money in the long run.
When you’ve found the right clinic to perform your procedure, make sure you follow their instructions carefully. This includes using any medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride as directed. As well as stimulating hair growth after your transplant, these solutions can reduce further hair loss and encourage regrowth.
Depending on the cause and extent of your hair loss, your surgeon may also recommend additional intraoperative treatments. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has been shown to be effective if administered during hair transplant surgery .
After your procedure, it’s essential that you take care of your hair grafts to give them the best chance of survival. You should:
- Follow your surgeon’s aftercare recommendations closely
- Take any medication as prescribed — complete antibiotic courses in full to prevent infection
- Avoid strenuous workouts after your hair transplant
- Protect your grafts from damage or dislodgement, especially in the first couple of weeks after your transplant.
Do hair transplants work better than other hair restoration methods?
Hair transplants are more effective for permanent irreversible hair loss than most other types of hair restoration treatment. Non-surgical medical solutions like Finasteride, Dutasteride, Minoxidil, and caffeine shampoos must be used on an ongoing basis to see long-term results (and in some cases should be used alongside hair transplants to prevent further hair loss).
Unlike these solutions, hair transplants don’t need updating once you’ve achieved your desired result. You can ultimately treat your transplanted hair the same as the rest of your hair.
Will my transplanted hair become thinner over time?
Hair transplants are permanent. But like all hair, transplanted hair will eventually start to thin. This is a natural part of ageing, and affects almost everyone.
This type of hair thinning differs from pattern baldness. Transplanted hair diminishes at the same rate as the rest of your hair, so you’ll continue to have even, natural-looking hair across your head even as you get older.
If you’re concerned about hair thinning, discuss it with your hair transplant consultant. They may be able to recommend products or procedures to minimise hair thinning.
Should you get a hair transplant?
Hair transplants are a highly effective way to restore your hair. You may be a good candidate for a hair transplant if:
- You have male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss
- Your hair loss is at stage 3 to 6 on the Norwood Scale
- You’ve tried solutions like Minoxidil and/or Finasteride to slow your hair loss.
Book a free consultation at our Harley Street clinic to find out if you’re eligible for a hair transplant.
- ISHRS Practice Census 2022
- ISHRS Practice Census 2011
- Review of Factors Affecting the Growth and Survival of Follicular Grafts
- FUE vs. FUT-MD: Study of 1,780 Follicles in Four Patients
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplant: Curves Ahead
- FUT vs. FUE Graft Survival: A Side-by-Side Study of 3 Patients Undergoing a Routine 2,000+ Graft Hair Transplantation
- Outcome of Intra-operative Injected Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy During Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant: A Prospective Randomised Study in Forty Patients
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