Hair Transplant Myths
At Bernstein Medical we believe that the better informed you are as a patient, the happier you will be with the outcome of your hair restoration. On this page Dr. Bernstein answers common hair transplant myths. You can find answers to more frequently asked questions about hair transplant surgery in our Hair Transplant FAQ and in our Hair Restoration Answers section. If you have specific questions about your hair loss, please schedule a physician consult or, if you are outside the New York City area, submit a photo consult.
If you are unsure about having a hair transplant, try a small procedure first to see if the procedure is for you.
Fact: Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure with a permanent result. If you decide that it is not for you after the fact, it is too late. It is best to do your research first and only go forward with hair restoration surgery after you are confident in the procedure, and the physician you have chosen. Read how to choose the right hair transplant surgeon.
A doctor can tell if you have plenty of hair for a hair transplant just by looking.
Fact: To best assess a person’s donor supply there are several factors that should be taken into account. The physician should examine the person’s scalp using a densitometer, an instrument that magnifies a section of the scalp that can take accurate measurements of hair density. The patient’s scalp laxity is another important determinant of how much hair is available for a hair transplant. This can only be assessed by actually moving the scalp with an “experienced” hand. Merely “looking” does not give the doctor enough information for him to decide if a person is a candidate for surgical hair restoration. Visit our page that describes Physician Consults at Bernstein Medical.
The larger the number of grafts transplanted in one session the better.
Fact: Although it is better to move hair in large hair transplant sessions – to minimize donor scarring and have each procedure look as natural as possible – sessions that are too large risk sub-optimal growth and may force the doctor to transplant hair into areas that are not ideal. Read our page on Graft Numbers to see approximately how many follicular unit grafts you might need for a transplant based on your hair loss pattern. It is important to have a consultation with a board certified physician to determine the cause of your hair loss, whether or not you are a candidate for surgery, and then, if you are a candidate, about how many grafts would be appropriate.
When large numbers of grafts are transplanted they do not get enough blood supply.
Fact: The blood supply of the scalp is so great and it is so collateralized (comes from different directions from blood vessels that are all interconnected) that it is able to sustain the growth of thousands of newly transplant grafts at one time. However, there are limitations. If the grafts are too large or if the sites are placed too close together the blood supply can be overwhelmed resulting in poor growth. Also, blood flow is significantly compromised by chronic sun exposure and smoking – two conditions which significantly limit the number of grafts that can safely be placed in one hair transplant session. See hair transplant results in patients with one, two, three, and even four hair transplant sessions.
It is better to have a hair transplant when you are young.
Fact: In general, there is greater chance of having a successful hair transplant and a satisfied patient when a person is older, rather than younger. When hair loss starts at an early age, the pattern is unpredictable and the hair loss has a greater chance of being extensive in the future. Also, the permanency of the donor area cannot be determined. Read more about Hair Transplant Age.
It is better to have a hair transplant when your hair loss is still early, so no one will notice.
Fact: Hair transplants grow in very gradually and take a full year to completely mature. The hair comes in so slowly that no one will notice the process. However, if the transplant is done too early (i.e. when you don’t yet need one) no one will notice the result either and the procedure will have been a waste of time and money. In addition, if a hair transplant is performed too early, it may accelerate hair loss. For a more extensive answer, see Dr. Bernstein’s post on why hair transplants are not appropriate for young patients.
Because the newer techniques are so good, most women can benefit from hair transplantation – just like men.
Fact: In spite of the great advances in surgical hair restoration, until the advent of cloning, doctors are still limited by a person’s finite donor supply. In many women who are experiencing hair loss, their donor area is thinning as well as other parts of the scalp, making hair transplantation ineffective. Read about the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss in women.
Large grafts produce more density than smaller grafts.
Fact: Density depends upon the total amount of hair transplanted to a particular area, not the size of the grafts. Larger grafts just result in an unnatural look, not greater overall density. In fact, part of our practice is the repair of old “hair plug” transplants that use large “plug” grafts. Read about how we repair old transplants and view before and after photos of some of our repair patients.
Scalp reductions conserve hair for future hair loss.
Fact: In a scalp reduction, the doctor tries to decrease the size of the bald area (usually in the crown) by literally cutting it out. However, to close the gap, the scalp must be advanced from the back and sides of the scalp. This decreases the hair density in the back and sides of the scalp and makes the scalp tighter. These two effects significantly limit the ability to remove more hair from the donor area, leaving the cosmetically more important front and top of the scalp too sparse. In addition, the scar that results from the procedure must be covered with hair, using up still more hair that would have been better placed in the front. See Patient JIH, who had four scalp reductions before coming to Bernstein Medical for repairs.
Laser hair transplants are state-of-the-art.
Fact: Although many people think that “laser hair transplants” are a state-of-the-art procedure, lasers were introduced to hair transplantation over a dozen years ago – and are not used by the most experienced hair transplant surgeons. In fact, laser hair transplants are really a misnomer, since the only part of the surgery that lasers have ever been used for is to make the recipient sites (the holes that the grafts are place into).
Even for this limited purpose, lasers are a problem. The reason is that lasers burn (destroy) tissue. In modern follicular unit transplant procedures, the delicate grafts fit into very tiny micro-slits that can be created without removing tissue. Regardless of how precise the laser beam, the procedure still makes a hole or slit by destroying tissue. Lasers will therefore always produce more injury to the skin than a small slit made with an instrument (such as surgical steel) that does not destroy tissue. As a result, the grafts placed into laser made sites will be less secure and there will be a greater chance of scarring in the donor area and poor graft growth.