For the man whose follicles are failing, a hair transplant may seem like the answer to all his misery or a drastic and insurmountable decision. That is understandable. It’s an overwhelming prospect because, after all, it’s a form of surgery. Add in the added worry of not knowing what to expect, how much it will cost and whether you’re in safe hands, and it can get more stressful than losing your hair in the first place.
Many people who rush without thoroughly researching the subject may end up regretting a hair transplant. That’s why we set out below the facts behind four different hair transplant procedures. But before you – together with your surgeon – decide what is best for you, there are more factors to consider.
What to Consider Before Getting a Hair Transplant
First, control your emotions. Don’t get too excited — or anxious — about your hair transplant options, because you may not even be a viable candidate. Take it easy, gather information from reputable sources, and weigh your options.
We’re talking real surgery here, not a visit to an upgraded barbershop. You must fully understand what is involved in hair transplantation and it is vital to research multiple surgeons and understand your options. Remember that no two surgeons are alike, just as no two patients are alike. Your first ports of call for research should be industry associations. Look up IAHRS, the AHLA and The Bald Truth UK.
Don’t be tempted by a bargain, because this is an expense you don’t want a deal on. No one wants to become a “medical tourism” statistic. Entrust the care of your body and the results of a hair transplant only to a reputable, experienced, ethical professional. You wouldn’t buy a Rolex from a guy in the bar, so why invest in an operator’s surgery that tells you more about their beachside recovery than their qualifications?
Your neighbor’s brother-in-law may have a horror story about his failed hair transplant. Or your boss may tell you that his cousin is the newest superstar in hair transplant surgery. Everyone has a story. And the internet is full of untruths, scammers and alarmism. Stick to collecting your information from real experts and ignore social media influencers, flashing ads and tabloid news.
The truth is that there is no quick fix for male pattern baldness. However, a wise investment of time and money can restore not only your hair, but also your confidence and self-esteem. Here’s where to start.
The 4 Different Types of Hair Transplant Procedures
Hair transplants are not a cookie-cutting procedure. Every individual is different, from the amount and quality of existing hair you have to the way you prefer to wear it. It is only after you personally consult a hair transplant surgeon that you will have an idea about what is best for you.
FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)
The minimally invasive treatment that restored Wayne Rooney’s cane is currently the most common hair transplant procedure for British men. With Follicular Unit Extraction, individual hair follicles are harvested from the sides and back of the scalp (the ‘donor site’) and transplanted to where they are needed (the ‘recipient area’), under local anaesthetic.
Very fine blades are used to create small implantation sites in the scalp and the follicles are inserted into them. Depending on the number of follicles being transplanted, FUE takes about eight hours and costs from £5,000 to £12,000.
When done correctly, there are no visible scars, so you can wear your hair short if that’s your favorite style. It takes four to 12 months to fully develop, but the results generally last a lifetime.
FUT (follicular unit transplant)
Where FUT differs from FUE is that the surgeon harvests and transplants thousands of hair follicles at a time. Under local anaesthetic, a strip of hair is removed from the donor site, usually the back or sides of the scalp. The surgeon then divides the hair follicles into smaller groups under a microscope and transplants them into bald patches as is done in an FUE procedure.
Downtime is similar but more severe, lasting about four weeks and leaving a linear scar. Results appear over the same period – four to 12 months – and costs range from £5,000 to £8,000.
Perhaps the most logical decision factor is how short you want to wear your hair: FUE for very short hair, FUT for longer hair. Ultimately, an experienced, reputable hair transplant surgeon will advise you on what is best for you. In general, FUT procedures allow more hair to be transplanted safely in one session, which is beneficial for patients with greater loss patterns who have more real estate to cover.
ATP (Advanced Trico Pigmentation)
ATP is another minimally invasive procedure. It is an advanced pigmentation system, very innovative and effective in that it basically amounts to tattooing stubble on the scalp with a small needle. The ink lasts up to seven years and looks incredibly natural. ATP can also mimic individual eyebrow hairs.
If you have thinning hair and want to appear fuller and thicker on top, ATP is helpful in “filling in” a receding hairline. Obviously this isn’t the right treatment if you want longer styles that you can both feel and touch, but you can create the look of a fully shaved head with ATP all over the scalp.
The price depends on the area being treated and ranges from £1,000 to £3,000.
BHT (body hair transplant)
For those with very little hair on their heads, there is the option of BHT. Follicular units are extracted from areas of the body such as the beard, chest, arms and legs using the FUE technique. The beard is usually the surgeon’s first choice as the success rate is generally higher than other sites.
The thickness, length, and hair cycle of your body hair determine whether it can be transplanted onto your scalp. These hairs do not quite match those of your scalp hair and the aesthetic result may not meet your expectations. A good surgeon should discuss this with you at length before deciding to go ahead with a procedure.
Keep in mind that BHT procedures take longer and require a higher degree of skill than traditional FUE. That said, the cost of the surgery is usually the same as FUE, so expect to pay between £5,000 and £12,000 depending on the number of follicles transplanted.