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How Many Hair Grafts Do I Need?

If you’re considering a hair transplant, you’ll probably want to know how many hair grafts you need to get the hairline you want. In general, the more hair you’ve lost, the more hair grafts you’ll need — but there’s more to your hair graft calculation than this.

By the end of this article, you’ll know:

  • what a hair graft is
  • how to calculate how many hair grafts you need
  • the average cost per hair graft
  • how to get an accurate hair graft quote.

What is a hair graft?

Hair grafts are tiny clusters of follicles that are extracted from one area of the head and implanted in thinning areas. They look like this:

hair grafts

Hair grafts are usually made up of groups of 2-5 follicles. They’re also known as follicular units.

In FUE surgery, hair grafts are removed with an instrument known as a micropunch. Most micropunches are less than 1mm in diameter [1].

In FUT, a strip of skin is removed from the donor area. This strip is then sliced into individual hair grafts. Find out more about the differences between FUT vs FUE.

The hair grafts are then implanted into the balding areas commonly caused by male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss.

How to calculate your hair graft requirement

There are 3 key criteria used to determine how many hair grafts you’ll need:

  • The extent of your hair loss
  • The rate of your continuing hair loss
  • Potential future hair transplants

The extent of your hair loss is analysed against the Norwood Scale. The Norwood Scale shows the 7 progressive stages of hair loss in men with male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia).

norwood scale

Your Norwood stage determines approximately how many hair grafts you need.

Hair grafts needed for each stage of hair loss

Norwood stage Area
of Scalp
Number Of Grafts
Front
Number Of Grafts
Crown
1 N/A
2 500 – 800
2a Centre 500 – 1000
3 Front and temples 1000 – 1500
3a Front and crown Front:
1000 – 1,500
Crown:
500 – 1000
4 Front and crown Front:
1,200 – 1,600
Crown:
800 – 1,100
4a Front Front:
1,700 – 2,500
5 Front and crown Front:
1,800 – 2,200
Crown:
1000 – 1,500
6+ Front and crown Front:
1,800 – 2,500
Crown:
1500 – 1700

While the Norwood Scale gives a rough indication of how many hair grafts you’ll need, you must also factor in your continuing hair loss.

If you’re still losing hair, it’s important to manage this before you opt for surgery. This can ultimately reduce the number of hair grafts you need now and in future surgeries. Solutions like Minoxidil and medication like Finasteride and Dutasteride are often prescribed to slow the rate of hair loss.

Sometimes hair loss progresses to the point where you need multiple hair transplants. In these cases, your hair transplant surgeon should aim to preserve your donor area so you can have additional procedures in future. That means your graft count may be lower initially to ensure you have enough donor hair for future transplants.

What is the safe donor area?

All prospective hair transplant patients should be aware that there is a limit to how many grafts a surgeon can safely extract. This is known as your safe donor area, and it prevents hair transplant overharvesting among other hair transplant complications.

There’s some debate about what constitutes the safe donor area. This diagram shows 4 commonly used models:

4 safe donor area models: alt's safe donor area, unger's safe donor area, cole's safe donor area, and cole's FUE safe donor area

Some research suggests that the safe donor area decreases in size as you age [2]. Studies have shown that it’s safe and effective to extract up to 6,000 grafts in certain patients with large donor areas — but not all patients will be able to have this many grafts [3].

Regardless of the donor area model used, a surgeon shouldn’t extract more than 25% of the follicles from the safe donor area in a single procedure [4]. So be wary of clinics that offer high graft quotes (in excess of 6,000 grafts), as this may constitute overharvesting.

Does the number of hair grafts differ if you have FUT or FUE surgery?

There’s very little difference between FUT and FUE in terms of the number of grafts you’re quoted. Some research suggests that the transection rate is slightly higher in FUE, so graft survival may be slightly lower [5]. But these differences are negligible, and shouldn’t impact your overall graft quote or hair transplant success.

FUE is generally more expensive than FUT, due to the longer procedure time. However, it also gives you less scarring and a faster hair transplant recovery timeline.

Hair graft calculation for women

Hair transplants for women use a different chart to measure progression of female pattern hair loss. This chart is known as the Ludwig Scale:

ludwig scale researchgate

The table below shows the average number of hair grafts needed for each stage of the Ludwig Scale:

Ludwig stage Average number of hair grafts needed
1 500-1200
2 1200-1800
3 1800+

Cost per hair graft

The average cost per hair graft in the UK is £3.25. However, some clinics reduce their price per graft and inflate the number of grafts quoted in order to appear more competitive.

As a result, it’s important to get quotes from a range of clinics. This will tell you whether you’re paying a fair price for your hair transplant, and whether a clinic is quoting for a higher number of grafts than is really necessary.

Read our hair transplant cost analysis to learn how to spot a shady clinic, and how much you should be paying for a hair transplant in 2022. If you are interested in a hair transplant with the Wimpole Clinic, see our hair transplant price list.

Find out how many hair grafts you need

The only way to find out exactly how many hair grafts you’ll need is to have a hair loss consultation at a reputable hair transplant clinic. Our experienced consultations will examine your hair and scalp to give you an accurate hair graft quote.

Consultation at the Wimpole Clinic is free, so book your consultation today and get an accurate quote for how many hair grafts you need to get a full, natural hairline.

How Many Hair Grafts Do I Need?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. 2022 ISHRS Practice Census
  2. Controversies in Hair Transplantation
  3. Clinical experience on follicular unit extraction megasession for severe androgenetic alopecia
  4. Complications in Hair Transplantation
  5. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplant: Curves Ahead
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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