If you are considering a hair transplant, you will probably want to know the hair transplant success rate. Compared to other hair loss solutions like minoxidil and finasteride, hair transplants do promise successful, long-term results.
A better understanding of the way this surgery works will give you an idea of why that’s the case. Still, there are numerous factors that can impact the overall hair transplant success rate.
How Do Hair Transplants Work?
The idea for hair transplants came from “donor area stability.” In male androgenetic alopecia, hair loss occurs on the top of the head, crown, and hairline. However, in a lot of these cases, the hair on the sides and the back stays put. That is what forms the donor area, the region from which hair is taken and redistributed to the bald spots.
Because of some variations in the Androgen Receptor (AR) gene, hair follicles in some regions of the scalp are more sensitive to the presence of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (a byproduct of testosterone, converted through the 5-alpha reductase enzyme).
The presence of DHT, even at normal levels, can cause shrinking and eventual shedding (permanent) of hair follicles. So far, there is no cure for androgenetic alopecia. However, there are different treatments for it, one of which is hair transplants.
Realizing that hair in the donor region isn’t affected by DHT (it isn’t understood why exactly), surgeons extracted hair follicles from there and implanted them into the recipient areas. After implantation, these hair follicles grow just like they would in the donor region, and they’re not affected by DHT. This is what ensures the success of hair transplants.
There have been two popular surgical techniques for the redistribution of hair from one region of the head to another. These are as follows:
FUT – A strip of skin is cut out from the back of the scalp in FUT (which is then stitched back up). From this skin, individual hair follicles are extracted and implanted into the balding areas. As a result of prominent scarring, this surgery isn’t so popular anymore.
FUE – Using punch tools, in FUE, the surgeon directly extracts individual hair follicles from the back and sides of the scalp. It does not leave visible scars because it doesn’t require stitches.
What Is the Hair Transplant Success Rate?
Normally, the hair transplant success percentage is 95. In other words, 95% of the transplanted hair grafts will survive and grow. However, this is normally the case when follicles are taken from the back and side of the scalp.
Hair transplant success rate can vary. For instance, in patients who have an autoimmune disease, skin burns, or scarring, it’s possible that 50-80% of the hair grafts survive (there are variations depending on the individual case). And if a person is getting body hair to scalp transplant, the success rate can be anywhere between 0-10%.
However, as mentioned before, there are certain factors that impact the overall success of the surgery. It can depend on the:
- Overall donor hair density
- Size of the balding area
- Medical history of the patient
- Operation technique and hair graft handling/storage
Factors That Contribute To A Failed Hair Transplant
The following factors can contribute to the failure of a hair transplant surgery:
When it comes to any surgery, your surgeon needs to be licensed and experienced. Inexperienced surgeons will not only give you poor results but also end up causing permanent damage to your hair.
It’s easy enough to tell a patient that they can achieve high hair density, but an experienced surgeon knows that it’s not always possible for every patient. Two things can happen if the surgeon tries to do the impossible:
Scalp necrosis – skin tissue on the scalp dies because of very close transplantation of hair grafts. Damage to the scalp is permanent, and the skin must be excised.
Overharvestation – this can happen along with scalp necrosis. Because the surgeon is trying to achieve high density, they’ll end up extracting too many grafts from the donor area. Since the follicle that’s removed won’t give growth to new follicles, the skin there is left bare.
It isn’t a problem as long as follicles are evenly extracted, but when too many are taken out from one place, you’ll end up with permanent bald spots. Inexperienced surgeons can end up doing so regardless of the patient’s request for high density. That’s because they don’t realize “how much is too much”, which in this case is follicles in the donor area.
Unnatural results – that’s another with inexperienced surgeons. Hair transplant isn’t simply taking the follicles and placing them in incisions. The depth of the incisions and the placement angle of the follicles impact the final results.
The angle at which hair grows differs in different regions of the scalp, and the thickness of the skin also varies, so the incisions are shallower in some places and deeper in others. Inexperienced surgeons may not take these factors into account, giving unnatural-looking results.
Therefore, you must find yourself a good surgeon who understands these things. This way, you won’t have to end up paying more in the future for revision surgeries. Always do your research and choose a surgeon you feel confident in.
Lack of communication between the patient and surgeon is another reason for the failure of this surgery. Patients need to clearly communicate their goals and expectations to the surgeon before the surgery takes place so that the treatment plan is made accordingly.
And it’s also the responsibility of the surgeon to provide all the necessary information about the surgery while making it clear what can and cannot be achieved. This way, the patient won’t end up dissatisfied, thinking that their surgery has failed.
Also, when the process is not explained fully by experienced professionals, patients are not able to follow the post-operative instructions or understand the results. This will impact the healing process and the overall success of the procedure.
Negligence In Post Operative Care
Aftercare plays a decisive role in the hair transplant success rate. If the grafts are not well taken care of, they won’t survive. This means that months after you start noticing hair growth, the density won’t be as high. Doing the following during the recovery process (soon after the surgery) can result in failure of the transplant:
- Drinking alcohol
- Engaging in strenuous physical activities
- Wearing caps
- Scratching head
- Bumping head
- Lying flat
- Not taking your medicines
These are just a few things that are a part of the aftercare. Hair transplant surgeons provide details descriptions of these that you need to follow. For many people, taking a break from their routine activities can be difficult, but it’s only temporary. Not following the post-op instructions can not only result in failure but also permanent damage.
The problem with such clinics is that there’s no-one overlooking the quality of treatments that they are offering. Registered clinics have to follow certain health codes and uphold quality standards because they’re regulated and inspected. These things don’t apply to unregistered clinics.
So, by going for these, you are putting your health at risk. Lack of hygiene in such clinics, for one, can cause infections. And you can expect the hair transplant success rate to be quite low too.
If the clinic’s in London, it should be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and if it’s in Turkey, it should be registered with the Ministry of Health. It’s always a good idea to check the reviews left online by people on different hair transplant forums.
Because hair transplants offer permanent results, many people opt for that surgery. It’s also because the success rate of this surgery is very high. The process involves taking healthy hair from the donor areas of the scalp and transplanting them into the balding regions. Because the transplanted hair isn’t affected by the presence of male sex hormones, it doesn’t fall away. This is one of the biggest reasons for the high hair transplant success rate.
However, the results can be affected by factors such as the experience of the surgeon, communication between the patient and the surgeon, scalp health of the patient, and the clinic in which the surgery is taking place. It’s important to do your due diligence to get the results that you’re looking for.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.