If you are considering a hair transplant treatment, the natural question to ask is, how long does a hair transplant last? Is a hair transplant permanent, or will the results fade over time?
The short answer to these questions is yes, the results of a hair transplant will last for a lifetime. The procedure is widely recognized as a permanent solution to hair loss.
However, there are some instances in which this may not be the case. This article will discuss the various factors which can impact the lifespan of your new hair to help you get the most out of your hair transplant.
Types of Hair Transplant
A hair transplant treatment involves extracting hair follicles from one area of the body (known as the ‘donor site’) and transferring them to the balding areas of the scalp (known as the ‘treatment site’ or the ‘recipient area’). There are two types of hair transplant that are performed today: FUT and FUE. These procedures use different methods for transferring hair follicles from the donor site to the treatment site.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
FUT stands for Follicular Unit Transplantation. It is sometimes referred to as ‘strip surgery’ or ‘the strip method’, because it works by removing a thin piece of tissue from the donor site, such as the back of the scalp. The donor site is then stitched closed. The stitches will be removed after 10 to 14 days have passed, which will leave a very small, linear scar. This can be hidden using the surrounding hair.
Then, a powerful microscope is used to remove individual hair follicles from the strip of tissue. This process is called stereo-microscopic dissection. The extracted hair follicles are then inserted into the balding areas of the head.
Patients can expect to see the final results of the treatment after approximately 12 to 18 months have passed.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FUE stands for Follicular Unit Extraction. Unlike FUT, this procedure does not involve removing a strip of scalp tissue from the donor site. Instead, the donor site is shaved, and hair follicles are removed from it one-by-one. This is done using a motorised surgical tool or an instrument called a micropunch. A local anaesthetic is used during this process to minimise discomfort.
After the hair follicles have been harvested, they are immediately re-inserted into the balding areas of the scalp. Importantly, the hair follicles are extracted in a random fashion. As a result, thinning in the donor site is less noticeable than it is during a FUT hair transplant. Moreover, FUE hair transplants do not leave a long linear scar, as the procedure does not involve the removal of a strip of tissue from the donor site.
FUE transplants take longer to complete than FUT transplants because hair follicles are removed individually from the donor site. Normally, it takes one day to complete an FUE hair transplant procedure, though in some cases it can take 2 to 3 days.
As with a FUT hair transplant, patients can expect to see the final results from a FUE hair transplant after approximately 12 to 18 months have passed.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Hair Transplant?
You are a good candidate for either a FUE or a FUT transplant if you are over the age of 25 and you suffer from hair loss. However, if the cause of your hair loss is a scalp condition such as alopecia areata, then you are not a suitable candidate for this treatment.
Additionally, patients must have healthy hair on the sides of the scalp or the back of the head to be a good candidate for this treatment, as these hairs will be transferred to the balding areas of the head during the surgery.
Factors that Impact the Longevity Of A Hair Transplant
Regardless of whether you have opted for a FUE or a FUT hair transplant, these factors will affect the lifespan of your new hair:
1. Attention Paid to Pre-Surgical Care Instructions
After you have booked your hair transplant, your surgeon will give you instructions on how to prepare for your treatment.
For example, patients are advised to stop smoking and avoid using blood thinners, beta-blockers, anti-inflammatory medication or anti-depressants for two weeks prior to a hair transplant. Additionally, you should avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine or multivitamin tablets for one week before the surgery.
In some cases, surgeons will recommend that their patient takes minoxidil in the month prior to their hair transplant.
If patients abide by these pre-surgical care instructions, the results of the hair transplant will be more successful. However, failure to follow these instructions will impact the longevity of the results.
2. Attention Paid to Post-Surgical Care Instructions
Similarly, it is important that patients follow the post-surgical instructions that their surgeon gives them.
For example, patients should avoid direct sunlight, washing or brushing their new hair, and vigorous exercise for four days after the treatment. Swimming in either fresh or chlorinated water should be avoided for approximately 3 to 4 months. Additionally, patients should sleep on their backs with their heads elevated to roughly 45 degrees for a week after a hair transplant, and must avoid tossing and turning in the night.
It is also essential that patients avoid touching their scalp or picking at their scabs in the days that follow their hair transplant, as this can dislodge the hair follicles and lead to infection.
The extent to which these instructions are followed will affect the longevity of your hair transplant.
3. The Experience and Expertise of Your Surgeon
A high level of skill and expertise is required to execute a successful hair transplant, and a certified and experienced practitioner will always deliver the best and longest-lasting results.
4. The Size and Thickness of the Donor Site
A large donor site will always produce the best results because it allows for a large number of hair follicles to be transferred to the treatment sites. Similarly, patients with thick and full hair in the donor site will achieve better and longer-lasting results than patients who are experiencing thinning in the donor areas.
5. Taking Post-Surgical Medication
In some cases, your surgeon will recommend that you take medication (such as minoxidil or finasteride) after your hair transplant to prolong the results of the treatment. Following your surgeon’s advice, in this case, will increase the lifespan of your new hair.
6. Taking Supplements
To help your body recover from a hair transplant procedure, it is important to consume a lot of vitamins and nutrients. Taking supplements which contain vitamins A, B, C and E can encourage your new hair to grow and will increase its lifespan. Eating foods which contain these vitamins will also stimulate the growth of your new hair and improve the results of the treatment.
7. A Family History of Hair Loss
If you have a family history of hair loss, it is possible that you will experience further balding after your hair transplant. Although the transplanted hairs will remain in place, other areas of the scalp may shed hair or experience thinning. In these cases, a second hair transplant is required so that the new balding areas can be treated.
Is a Hair Transplant Permanent?
On the one hand, the answer to this question is yes, a hair transplant will last for a lifetime. The procedure is designed to produce permanent results.
The reason for this is that patients who suffer from hair loss (such as male or female pattern baldness) typically lose hairs from the top of their heads. The hair on the sides and the back of the scalp, meanwhile, remains in place. This is because the hairs in these areas of the head are not subject to the body’s hair loss processes, and they will continue to grow for life (though they can experience thinning).
A hair transplant works by removing these healthy hairs from the sides and the back of the scalp and relocating them to the balding areas of the head. As these relocated hairs are not susceptible to hair loss, they will remain in their new place for life. Consequently, the results of this procedure are (usually) permanent.
On the other hand, however, it is important to note that the permanence of a hair transplant depends on the care that a patient takes of their hair. The lifespan of your new hair is not guaranteed: you must follow the pre- and post-surgical instructions that your surgeon gives you to ensure that the new hair follicles take root and that the new hair grows healthily.
Will I Need a Second Hair Transplant?
As the results of a hair transplant are designed to be permanent, it is not common for patients to require a second hair transplant.
The transplanted hairs will remain in place and continue to grow for the rest of a patient’s life. However, in some cases, other areas of the scalp – which were not treated by the transplant – begin to experience balding after the surgery. This can create bald spots or patches around or nearby the area that was treated during your transplant. In these cases, a second hair transplant is required to treat the new balding areas.
To prevent further balding after a hair transplant, your surgeon may recommend that you take hair loss medication, such as Procepia (finasteride) or Rogaine (minoxidil).
What is ‘Shock Loss’ after a Hair Transplant?
Hair transplant surgery involves removing hair follicles from your skin and re-inserting them into the balding regions of your scalp. Inevitably, the skin of your scalp undergoes trauma during this procedure. In some rare cases, the body responds to this trauma by shedding healthy hair, and this side-effect is called ‘shock loss’.
Typically, shock loss occurs in the first 1 to 5 days after the treatment. During this time, the transplanted hair follicles are shed by the body. Whilst this loss of hair can be alarming at the time, patients should not worry. Although the hair has fallen out, the transplanted hair follicles remain in place, and they will begin to produce new hair.
Consequently, your hair will completely regrow within one month. However, if you are very concerned about the shock loss, there are specialist lotions and products available which can accelerate the rate at which your hair grows back.
It is important to note that, whilst it is rare for patients to experience ‘shock loss’, it is common for patients to experience some shedding after approximately 3 weeks have passed since their hair transplant. This is completely normal and expected, and, as with shock loss, the transplanted hair follicles will produce new hair.
Ultimately, if the correct steps are taken to ensure that the relocated hair follicles are able to take root in their new location, a hair transplant will cure baldness for a lifetime. If you would like to discuss this in further detail with one of our friendly specialists, you can book a consultation via email or over the phone.