I’m considering hair transplants, but my wife saw a talk show recently with a hair expert. In the segment, the expert said that a significant number of transplanted hairs fall out in both the short and long terms following the procedure. He said figure five years before you return to your original look.
How is loss of transplanted hair measured, and is the permanency guaranteed in some way?
Most transplants fall out within a month of being put into their new location. The new hair goes through a rest phase and some 2-5 months after the transplant was done, they start to grow and will continue to grow for the rest of your life. Hair grows at about Â½ inch per month so you can calculate the hair length from the point the hair starts to grow multiplied by the number of months the hair has been out. The hair growth is not like a horse race, where every hair starts to grow at the exact same time. The growth comes in waves, some earlier and some later. We generally expect that 100% of the hair that is transplanted, will grow. Some if it may start immeciately, some in a month, two or three, and some may not start to grow for 6 or more months. Good growth reflects a skilled surgical team who does this all of the time. Less than a skilled team may take a toll on less than 100% growth.
You asked about measurement of hair. I invented and obtained a patent for a device I called the ‘densitometer’ over 10 years ago. This invention covers almost all of the measuring devices presently used today. What it allows is the direct visualization of an area of scalp. If you cut the hair (an area about the size of a pea), you can actually measure hair densities by counting hairs in the cut pea sized area. This measurement is performed on every patient we analyze prior to a hair transplant. This measurement tells me what the total supply of hair is in that particular patient (hairs per square mm) or the overall thickness of each hair shaft in the field of view. Caucasians, have the highest densities, African hair is usually the lowest and Asian hair is somewhere in between Caucasian and African hair. But within the races, there is a wide variation of densities so there is no substitute to good measurements. After a transplant is done, the same measurement process can be performed to reassess the donor area or even the recipient area. It is, however, impractical to take such measurements in the recipient area because it would require shaving too much of the scalp (a pea sized area may not be representative of the entire recipient area). The judgment of a good honest doctor and the results that you saw on other patients may be your best guide to determine what the yield of the transplant procedure actually was.
The 5 year statement you asked about is difficult for me to answer as whoever gave this opinion may have been looking at a very advanced balding pattern and looking at the native hair in the recipient area, not the transplanted hair.
Since you are in Northern California, I would suggest you and your wife may want to come to our Open House (at our office on Wednesday, May 18th in San Jose) where you can see a surgery and meet former patients. They will share their experience with you. There is no substitute to meeting patients directly.