Getting a Hair Transplant Might Be Easier Than You Think

If you are suffering from male pattern baldness, chances are you would do just about anything to slow the progress. Products like Rogaine and Propecia can help, but the greatest and most noticeable benefits are seen from a hair transplant procedure.

The transplants of the 70s and 80s that left participants with strange doll-like hair are a thing of the past, with new techniques transferring only a few hairs at a time to create natural hairlines that even barbers can’t tell are manufactured.

We are talking about surgery here, so it is important to research your surgeon carefully and make smart choices about when to go under the knife. But that’s the hardest part. Otherwise, getting a hair transplant can be a lot easier than you think.

We’ll break down the most important things to know about the procedure.

Good Candidates for the Surgery

Both men and women can be good candidates for hair transplant surgery, but they need to meet two qualifications. First, the candidate must have enough healthy hair left on the scalp to be transplanted; and second, the pores on the bald or thinning areas of the scalp need to remain capable of growing hair.

When you have a consultation with a dermatologist, you will discover the answer to both these questions. Your doctor will also recommend a blood test to determine what may be causing the hair loss in the first place. Finally, a small scalp biopsy may be necessary, but it can be done right in the office and is painless.

The results of this exam will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the surgery. You might not be able to achieve a full head of hair again, but you can reasonably expect thicker locks.

The Surgery Procedure

The surgery itself usually does not require general anesthesia, only a local to numb the scalp. If you’re nervous, a mild sedative can help you relax. The whole thing takes only 4-8 hours, depending on the extent of the work required. If your case is really extensive, you may need to go back the next day.

Your dermatologist will remove healthy hairs in one of two ways. The first way is to cut a strip of skin with healthy hairs attached. The second is to remove individual hairs. The latter option provides a more natural finished look, but it takes more time. The first option does leave behind a long narrow scar, but it shouldn’t be visible unless you favor really short haircuts.

Next, the surgeon and technicians work together to prep both the removed hairs and your scalp for the transplant. You may then have 2-3 technicians working together to implant the hairs in their target areas. When the surgery is complete, your scalp is wrapped and you will receive at-home care instructions.

How to Time the Surgery

It would be fantastic if you walked out of hair transplant surgery with instant results, but alas, it doesn’t work that way. Most patients don’t see real results from the surgery for 6-9 months, and for some, it takes up to 12 months.

In fact, between 2 and 8 weeks post-surgery, the transplanted hair falls out. That is totally normal! In month 3, you may find that your hair actually looks thinner than it did in the first place. With the help of an appropriate medication regimen, you should see new growth in the transplant areas by about month 6.

It’s important to time the surgery so as to be past the recovery stage by the time any major picture events roll around. Don’t get the surgery a month before your daughter’s wedding, for example. Remember that even after the bandages come off, there will be a lengthy recovery process – and that you will likely need to take a hair growth medication continually in order to retain the results.

About Pain & Scarring

During your procedure, your doctor will manage your pain, so the most uncomfortable thing about it is sitting in a chair for up to 8 hours straight. Most docs will give patients regular breaks to get up and stretch, though. Afterward, you might experience some soreness but it shouldn’t exceed the level of pain that can be managed by OTC painkillers.

Scarring will also be minimal, especially if you had the individual hair transfer procedure. Scarring from that is basically undetectable to the untrained eye. However, with the other type of removal there will be a scar at the donor site on the back of your scalp. Doctors are careful to take this from a place that will be hidden by existing hair.

If you can manage 3 weeks of relative solitude (or loose hat wearing), the redness will have dissipated and the shaved areas will be filling back in. No one that you don’t tell about the surgery should be able to notice that it was done.

Permanent Results

The hair transplant procedure actually moves healthy follicles to thinned areas, so in theory, these follicles will continue to grow throughout your life. However, hair loss is often progressive and you can still lose hair in other areas. As time passes, you may start to think about having another surgery.

In many cases, your dermatologist will start to build a foundation of hair loss prevention activities before you have your surgery, so that the surgery, recovery, and ongoing care will be part of a continuum that keeps as much hair on your head as possible for the longest time.


In the end, the most important decision you have to make when pursuing a hair transplant is who your doctor will be. Definitely ask your top contenders to see photos of their work in all phases and even talk to former patients to get a sense of their experience. Skill levels vary a lot from doctor to doctor, as do their prices, so your ultimate satisfaction depends on making a good selection.

The procedure itself and the healing process are relatively painless, but don’t rush into it. Be prepared to spend a lot of time researching surgeons and then waiting patiently for the results to truly reveal themselves. If you can do that, getting a hair transplant may be easier than you think.