"Deciding to undergo a hair transplant is a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly," says hair loss expert Spencer Stevenson, himself a veteran of twelve hair transplants, both good and bad. "I had my first one over twenty years ago when I was just 21, and it was done badly. Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about hair transplants, often the hard way.
"Firstly, there is no such thing as too much research. A man considering a hair transplant is often vulnerable to making speedy, emotional decisions. Instead, consider your options slowly and carefully and remember you can never ask too many questions."
1. "Why should I use this surgeon?"
"Choosing the right surgeon for the job is your most important decision," says Spencer. "Start by finding some reputable options through the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons. You could look for somebody in your area and meet face to face with the surgeon and their patients. Ask them to show you before and after photos.
"Or if you can afford it and have the time, consider going further afield to the US or Canada, where you’ll find some of the world’s leading hair transplant clinics (try the American Hair Loss Association).
"Belgium also has some very good hair clinics."
2. "Will anything improve my hair transplant?"
"Yes," says Spencer, who recommends starting medical hair restoration treatment for at least a year before a hair transplant. "Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) and Finasteride (brand name Propecia) are both FDA approved and you should get on one well before your hair transplant."
Minoxidil is a topical, over-the-counter treatment for hair loss that you can buy in Boots or online. Finasteride is an oral, prescription-only hair loss medication available from GPs.
"However, you may have to pay a private GP because some NHS ones won’t prescribe it because they don’t see hair loss as a medical priority," says Spencer. "But it’s worth it, as they slow down hair loss and provide more hair for your transplant. He says there are countless supplements on the market to combat hair loss, such as Vitabiotics Hairfollic Man (£18.95 for 30 tablets).
3. "Which hair transplant procedure is best for me?"
"There are three main types," says Spencer. "FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) and ATP (Advanced Trico Pigmentation).
"FUE is the most popular and involves using fine blades to harvest hair follicles from a “donor area” where hair still remains, so usually the back and sides. The hair follicles are then inserted into bald areas. Because hair follicles are moved individually, it takes longer than FUT, but it doesn’t leave a scar so it suits very short hairstyles, and it’s minimally invasive with little downtime.
If the procedure is done correctly, it will last a lifetime
Dr Bessam Farjo
"With FUT, a strip of hair is removed, your surgeon then divides it up into individual or small groups of hair follicles, which are then re-inserted into the bald area. It’s quicker and cheaper than FUE so you get more bang for your buck, but it leaves a scar and there’s some healing.
"ATP is a form of tattooing on the illusion of stubble with a special ink that lasts up to seven years, and it’s best suited to men with short or shaved hairstyles."
4. "How much does a hair transplant cost?"
It all depends on the hair transplant surgeon and clinic you use, and how much treatment you need (ie, how much hair you need transferring or tattooing). But as a rough guide FUE hair transplant (which moves individuals hairs) costs between £5,000 and £12,000, FUT costs between £5,000 and £8,000 and ATP costs between £1,000 and £3,000.
5. "Will I need time off work after my hair transplant surgery?"
"This depends," says hair transplant surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo from the Farjo Hair Institute. "For some people, little or no time off is needed, although you may need to rest for a day or two afterwards. It depends on the treatment you have, whether you have enough hair to cover any scars and whether you’re comfortable with anyone knowing (the area may be red for a few days). If so, it’s probably best to have your surgery at the start of a week’s holiday."
And don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results of your hair transplant surgery right away. "Visible hair growth after a transplant takes around four months due to the hair growth cycle, another four months to fully appear and by the one year mark you’ll be able to see the full effect," says Spencer.
6. "Will I need another hair transplant procedure in the future?"
"Transplanted hair behaves in a similar way to the hair from where it was taken," says Dr Farjo. "And as the hair in the donor area tends to be genetically different to the balding area, it shouldn’t fall out in a similar pattern. If the procedure is done correctly, it will last a lifetime. However, as you get older you may experience hair thinning in the donor area (usually the back and sides) and if this happens, the transplanted hair will follow the same pattern."
"In theory, the transplanted hair will continue to grow in a similar way to your donor hair," says Spencer. "However, this may also fall out so you might decide you need another hair transplant in the future."
For more information on Spencer Stevenson, visit www.spexhair.com