For some, hair restoration surgery was a great solution for dealing with their hair loss problems, however, it isn't the only option nor the best one. It's no secret that surgical hair restoration can do irreversible damage, however, it's important that you know all the risks involved.
There are two types of hair restoration procedures—follicular unit transplant (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). A FUT procedure involves harvesting individual hair follicles from a strip of scalp tissue removed from the back of the head. The surgeon closes the wound with stitches and transplants the harvested follicles to the affected areas. During an FUE procedure, your surgeon will use a device to collect individual hair follicles from the scalp and use them in the affected area.
What Your Surgeons Won't Tell You
Hair restoration surgeons aren't always forthcoming about the FUT or FUE procedure. In fact, here's a look at our list of 10 things hair restoration surgeons won't tell you.
1. Insurance Won’t Cover It
Unlike non-surgical hair replacement systems, hair restoration procedures are expensive. On average, the cost of the surgery is anywhere between $4,000 to $15,000. There are several factors woven into the price such as location and your surgeon's skill level.
Regardless of your reason, most health insurance companies won't cover the cost of the surgery. The reason is that hair restorations procedures are electives - and most insurance companies do not think they're medically necessary. Therefore, you may have to pay thousands of dollars for multiple visits to your surgeon.
2. No Certification Required
The American Board of Medical Specialties doesn't recognize hair restoration surgery as a medical specialty. To become a hair restoration "surgeon," a person's training requires them to either work as an apprentice of someone who performs hair restoration or learn the information and skills on their own. There is no standard curriculum, oversight, or review of their quality of work.
3. Curly Hair Is Challenging
While a follicular unit extraction procedure is less invasive, it may not be the best choice for those with coarse, curly hair. The machine used to extract follicular unit grafts makes straight punctures into the scalp. Because hair is curly both inside and outside of the scalp, extracting follicles for curly hair without damaging the root becomes more challenging.
4. Hair Loss
Despite the success of surgical hair restoration procedures, a possible side effect is shock loss. This occurs when the transplanted hair dies and falls out without the possibility of hair regrowth. As a result, you must go under additional procedures.
5. It’s Harder for Women
For hair loss surgery, only 2-5% qualify. Many women suffer from diffuse hair loss which causes hair loss all over the head. This includes the sides and back which are stable donor sites. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT will bind to hair follicles and shrink them. Eventually, some follicles will die while others stop healthy hair growth. Because of DHT, if the hair were removed and transplanted from these unstable sites, it would fall out.
Scarring occurs in both FUT and FUE procedures. The scar from a FUT procedure is usually a thin linear scar easier to hide, but it may be visible on those who wear shorter styles. Scarring from an FUE procedure manifests as thousands of visible dots in the donor site. If a patient shaves their head following surgery, those scars will be visible.
7. Complications For Younger Recipients
Many young men star to lose hair in their 20s. Because they have not undergone the full extent of their hair loss, a hair restoration procedure may cause issues long term. After the surgeon transplants the hair, it is permanent. As a man continues to lose his hair in surrounding areas, he may end up with patches of hair interspersed with bare skin.
8. Risk Of Infection
While the risk of infection from hair restoration procedures is minimal, it can be very serious if an infection occurs. In the donor site, an infection can cause severe scarring and hair loss on a healthy area of the scalp. If infection occurs at the repaired hairline, it may become disfigured and require corrective surgery.
When several follicular unit grafts are inserted into the recipient site, cysts that are only 2 or 3 mm in diameter may form underneath the skin. This is due to the follicle grafts being placed too deeply into the skin. They generally disappear by themselves, but you should consult your doctor if you notice any cysts forming.
Numbness following surgery is common. It can last a few weeks to a few months, or it may be permanent if the surgeon cut the nerve during the procedure.
Non-surgical hair replacement options require no surgical procedures or recovery time. They allow you to change your hairstyle as you please and match it with your natural hair color, length and texture. Along with a healthy lifestyle and treatments meant to combat hair loss, non-surgical hair replacement is the better option for you.