Everything you should know about hair transplants
Effective in: 96% of men
Avg. cost: £6,000 per treatment
Time to take effect: 9 months
A hair transplant is a type of surgery that involves moving healthy hairs from one part of a person’s body to an area where they are losing hair. This can lead to permanently thicker and healthier hair in the desired location. It is popular with men suffering from male pattern baldness (a genetic form of hair loss causing the common U-shaped balding patch).
The medical team at LloydsPharmacy conducted an audit of UK hair transplant clinics and discovered that, on average, hair growth is experienced in 96% of men taking surgery.
Hair transplants are not normally recommended as a man's first option, as they tend to be very expensive and not always effective. You can compare surgery with cheaper but effective solutions using our hair loss treatment comparison tool.
How do hair transplants work?
The concept behind a hair transplant is fairly straightforward. Small healthy hairs are removed from an area of a man’s body that is genetically resistant to balding (often from the back of the head). These hairs are then transplanted or “grafted” onto the balding area under local anaesthetic. Once implanted, they will be ready to grow again to replace the lost hair and, in theory, continue to be resistant to balding.
One surgery session will typically involve grafting 500-3,000 hair follicles. Each of these hairs have to be grafted individually to maintain a natural hairline. This means each session can take up to eight hours and can be quite painful, despite the anaesthetic. Depending on the precise technique used - there may be some scarring in the donor area of the scalp. Hair should continue to grow normally once it has been transplanted.
Do hair transplants work?
Yes, in most cases. Hair transplants can work for many types of men with male pattern baldness. However, the effectiveness of a hair transplant largely depends on:
- the quality of the transplant
- the nature of hair loss
If you are going to get a hair transplant, research the clinic and its chosen technique beforehand. Get advice from trusted medical professionals, and consult your GP throughout the process. Although some men may be tempted to save money by getting a cheap hair transplant or going overseas, this can be very risky.
A badly done transplant can lead to permanently strange and unnatural looking hair. In the worst case, it can lead to severe scarring and dangerous infections.
Is a hair transplant right for you?
Hair transplants are not normally appropriate for young men, or men with mild hair loss. This is because, for a hair transplant to work, donor hair is needed from an area of the head that is genetically resistant to balding. If hair loss is at an early stage, it will be unclear which hair is truly resistant and will survive in the long run. By implanting the wrong hairs to the wrong area, patients can be left with strange looking patches as the surrounding hair fades. Many hasty operations have left men with new and healthy hair at the front of their hairline, but with balding patches at the back of the head.
Because of this issue, most young men will require more than one hair transplant, even if the first one is successful. Celebrities such as Wayne Rooney and Calum Best are two famous examples of young men with fairly severe hair loss who have needed several operations. In the case of Wayne Rooney (only 25 when he started), he required further surgery as his hair loss continued past the initial area of transplant. This is more likely to happen if you are young and not sure of the extent of your hair loss.
How much does a hair transplant cost?
The cost of a hair transplant depends upon the technique used and the amount of hair being grafted. However, you can typically expect one treatment to start at £6,000.
Generally speaking, the cost of a hair transplant is decided by the number of hair grafts needed, and the technique that is used. So the more coverage you want, the more expensive your surgery will be.
The bottom line: You can expect the starting price for a hair transplant of 3,000 grafts, to be around £6,000. For many men, this number will creep up to £12,000 and beyond. As above, holding off until the extent of your hair loss is clear helps you avoid paying for several operations.
Hair transplant alternatives
A hair transplant can be an extremely effective treatment for hair loss, but it isn’t right for everyone. Whether it’s the risk of infection, or the sliding costs putting you off, there are several alternatives to surgery that might be right for you.
If you are a man suffering from male pattern baldness, the most effective treatment in the UK is Finasteride. This is a prescription tablet that is effective in 90% of men (and often sold as the brand “Propecia”). Finasteride/Propecia stops hair loss without invasive surgery, and can even promote regrowth of naturally healthy hair. As a point of interest, Calum Best’s last hair transplant cost him £6,000; a sum that would pay for around 15 years of treatment with Finasteride. To learn more about Propecia (Finasteride) visit our online hair loss clinic >.
Another option for men with male pattern baldness is Minoxidil, often sold as “Regaine” in the UK. This treatment comes in the form of a lotion or foam rubbed into the scalp every day. Minoxidil is not as effective as Finasteride, it is effective in only 67% of men compared to Finasteride’s 90% of men. But unlike Finasteride/Propecia, Minoxidil can be bought without a prescription, you can order it online here.
Our doctors have designed a tool to help you compare hair loss treatments.