Robotic Hair Transplants & Hair Restoration
110 East 55th Street, New York, NY
Contact Us: 212-826-2400
Hair Transplant

Answers to frequently asked questions about hair transplant surgery.

Hair Restoration Answers

Why Is My Hair Dry And Kinky After My Hair Transplant?

Q: I had a hair restoration procedure and the hair grew, but after one year the hair was kinky and dry. It has remained like this ever since.

From what I have read Dr Bernstein says this is uncommon but can happen. I understand there is no definitive explanation for this but I would like Dr Bernstein’s opinion on why this happens. My theory is that DHT is more prominent on the top of the head and is changing the structure of the transplanted hair. The hair is so dry and unmanageable it looks like I am wearing a wig. I await his response. — P.O., Greenwich, CT

A: Some dryness and texture changes can occur after a hair transplant and this usually self-corrects over 1-2 years during which time the transplanted hair gradually regains its original luster and texture. These changes are most likely due to the unavoidable trauma that takes place as follicles are removed from the scalp and placed into recipient sites. Excessive dryness can occur if the sebaceous glands had been stripped away from the graft. In FUT, this can be due to over dissection (i.e., grafts that are trimmed too much). In FUE, this can be due to loss or damage to the sebaceous glands in the extraction process. Persistent kinkiness may represent either damage to grafts from the procedure (improper handling, crush injury) or effects of scarring in the recipient area (usually from older procedures which used larger recipient sites) that distort the growth of follicles.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can Anyone Tell Me Why Dr. Bernstein Is Still Bald?

Q: Can anyone tell me why Dr. Bernstein is still bald? — N.H., Brooklyn, NY

When Dr. Bernstein was younger and started to lose his hair, it really didn’t bother him. After medical school, he began his career as a dermatologist and became aware of surgical hair restoration. It was then when he realized that he would not be a good candidate for a hair transplant procedure, even if he wanted one, because his donor area is very thin. In the years since, he has gotten used to being bald. But his not being a candidate made him keenly aware of who is and who is not a good candidate for surgery, and this insight has helped earn him a reputation as an honest and ethical practitioner of hair transplantation.

Hair Restoration Answers

Would A Hair Transplant In Turkey Be Performed Just By Technicians?

Q: I was thinking of having an FUE procedure done in Turkey, but I am concerned that it will be done with just technicians. Any thoughts? — E.E. ~ Mount Vernon, N.Y.

A: I do not have first-hand information on the clinics in Turkey, but there is a recent “Letter to the Editor” in Hair Transplant Forum International, the official publication of the “International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery” that you might find informative. From the article:

“In Turkey, there are 300 FUE clinics in Istanbul alone, but unfortunately at only 20 of them operations are done by doctors. We do not exactly know how many of those 300 clinics have legal permissions, but we know very well that an average of 500-1,000 FUE operations are done per day.”

If you would like to read the entire article, the reference is: A Report from Turkey – the situation in a top FUE destination. Hair Transplant Forum International July/August 2017 p 162.

Hair Restoration Answers

Do Women Have Less Shock Loss Than Men?

Q: I have heard that shock loss is somewhat common after a hair transplant. Do women experience less shock loss than men? — N.R. ~ Mineola, N.Y.

A: The risk of shock hair loss is generally greater in women than in men since women usually have a more diffuse pattern of thinning. This is because females generally have more miniaturized hair, the hair that is most subject to post-op shedding.

Hair Restoration Answers

What is Trichophytic Closure After An FUT Hair Transplant?

Q: I have read that some doctors perform something called a trichophytic closure. What is this? — M.S. ~ Thornwood, N.Y.

A: Trichophytic closure is a way to minimize the appearance of the donor scar in a hair transplant using a strip incision. The technique provides improved camouflage of a linear donor scar in Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). Normally, in FUT, the surrounding hair easily covers the scar. For some patients with very short hairstyles, the resulting donor scar may be visible. With the trichophytic closure technique, Dr. Bernstein trims one of the wound edges (upper or lower), allowing the edges to overlap each other and the hair to grow directly through the donor scar. This can improve the appearance of the donor area in patients who wear their hair very short.

The trichophytic donor closure can be used on patients who have had previous hair transplant procedures and are looking for improvement in the camouflage of their donor scar. It is particularly useful in hair transplant repair or corrective work. Trichophytic closures work best with sutured incisions. Stapled closures have their own advantages. The doctor will recommend which type is best in your case.

Hair Restoration Answers

What Is The Difference Between The ARTAS 9x And The Earlier Versions Of The Robot?

Q: What is the difference between the ARTAS 9x and the earlier versions of the robot? — T.J. ~ Washington, D.C.

A: The differences can be grouped into four broad categories:

1. Speed: The 9x is 20% faster than the 8x. This is achieved through the ARTAS robot’s ability to more quickly and accurately align with the follicles, faster movement from follicular unit to follicular unit while harvesting, and a shortened dissection cycle (less than 2 seconds). In addition, the 9x uses white LED lights instead of red, which permits an increased work flow from the ability to simultaneously incise and extractions grafts. The decreased strain on the eyes from the white lights (compared to red) makes this possible.

2. Accuracy: The 9x uses smaller needles that minimize wounding and donor scarring. It is especially useful for patients with fine hair or those who want to keep their hair short.

3. Functionality: The robotic arm on the 9x has a 1-inch base extender that gives the machine a longer reach and decreases the need for the patient to be repositioned. The ARTS 9x also has a smaller robotic head allowing the robot to harvest the grafts at a more acute angle. The ARTAS 9x also allows for more site making options due to the universal blade holder and the ability to program a change in the orientation of the incision in different regions of the scalp. The ARTAS 9x also uses a new harvesting halo to secure the tensioner (the grid-like device that indicates where the robot should harvest) which is faster to apply and more comfortable for the patient.

4. Use of Artificial Intelligence: The technology notifies the physician early-on if the harvesting is not precise, so that action can be taken to ensure most effective results. The ARTAS software can now detect areas with low (or no) hair density and prevent those areas from being over-harvested. This also decreases human error and saves time by automatically blocking these areas with low density. Finally, the ARTAS Hair Studio, can now create a 3-D image of the patient’s head with only one photo (as opposed to the prior requirement of 3 to 5).

Hair Restoration Answers

Why Visit a Practice That Specializes in Both FUT and FUE?

Q: Why go to a practice that specializes in both FUT and FUE? — L.P., Bayside, NY

A: This is a great question, but the answer may be counterintuitive in today’s age of specialization. The answer is that you should always go to the practice that offers both. To deliver the best care, hair restoration physicians should have expertise in both Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) techniques and should offer both in their practices. There are at least five good reasons why.

Hair Restoration Answers

After a Hair Transplant Will Scars Be Visible in the Recipient Area?

Q: I’ve read some information on your website about donor area scarring from FUT and FUE. Since I wear my hair longer in the back, I am not really concerned about that. But what about the recipient area where my hair is thin? Are any scars visible in the recipient area after a hair transplant? How long after a hair transplant will you be able to see redness, marks, or scars on the top of my scalp? — A.N., Chicago, IL

A: The marks and redness from a hair transplant should fade in about 10 days, although there is significant patient to patient variability. The tiny recipient sites that we use prevent visible scarring, pitting, or other surface irregularities as a result of the procedure.

Hair Restoration Answers

If I Have Shock Loss After a Hair Transplant, How Long Until Hair Grows Back?

Q: I had an FUE hair transplant three weeks ago and some of my existing non-transplanted hair has fallen out. I was a Norwood 3V, but now I look more like a 4 or 5 without the hair that used to help cover up my thinning area. Am I destined to look balder for the next few months? When can I expect to look like before? — T.M., New Haven, CT

A: You are describing shedding that is pretty typical following a hair transplant. The hair which is shed generally grows back together with the transplanted hair beginning at about three months. You should expect hair that is shaved for the FUE procedure to grow back right away at the normal rate of 1/2mm per day.

The shedding (also called shock hair loss) doesn’t mean permanent damage to the hair follicles. What it refers to is a physiological, or normal, response to trauma to the scalp which is caused by the hair restoration procedure. In general, only miniaturized hair (the hair that is affected by androgens and that has begun to decrease in diameter) is shed after a transplant. This hair would be lost in the near term anyway. Existing healthy hair is unlikely to shed, but if it were to shed, you could expect it to grow back as the transplanted hair grows in.

Hair Restoration Answers

Why Is It Important to Wash My Scalp After a Hair Transplant?

Q: Is it harmful if I do not rinse or wash my recipient area for 5 to 7 days after the hair transplant? — T.E., Yonkers, NY

A: The purpose of showering the day after the procedure is to remove scabs and dried blood. This will allow for quicker healing, less inflammation (redness), and a reduced incidence of infection. It will also shorten the time post-op where the procedure might be detectable. In our practice, patients are instructed to start showering and gently washing the recipient area the day after the surgery. The first day after surgery the patient will shower three times, and for the remainder of the week, showering will be twice daily. When showering, patients can clean the transplanted area with a special medicated shampoo that is gentle on grafts. The follicular unit grafts are made to fit snugly into the recipient sites and will not be dislodged in the shower, as long as the patient washes gently.

Hair Restoration Answers

Does Minoxidil Improve Graft Survival After a Hair Transplant?

Q: Does minoxidil play any role in the survival of the grafts after a Neograft/FUE procedure? — J.W., Philadelphia, PA

A: When a doctor performs a hair transplant, the hair should be taken from the permanent zone so, by definition, that hair is not affected by medication (i.e. does not need to be maintained by either minoxidil or finasteride). If the doctors using Neograft are suggesting that minoxidil increases survival, then they are probably harvesting hair outside the permanent zone. To clarify, I use the ARTAS robotic system for our FUE procedures, not Neograft, as the former is a far more accurate device for harvesting.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Have a Hair Transplant if I Have a Scar in My Donor Area? If So, Which Do You Recommend, FUT or FUE?

Q: I have a diagonal scar in the middle of my donor area that I got during a childhood accident and I am concerned that it will limit my options for hair restoration. Will this type of scar prevent me from having either FUT or FUE? Do you recommend one or the other? — R.F., Upper West Side, NY

A: Traumatic scars in the donor area do not preclude us from performing a hair transplant. With an FUT/strip procedure, we can remove all or part of the scar when we excise the donor strip. In Robotic FUE, the ARTAS Robot can be programmed to avoid a scar during harvesting. In either procedure, we can improve the appearance of the scar by implanting follicular unit grafts directly into the scar tissue. The hairs will grow permanently in the scar, just like ones we implant in the recipient area, and the scar will become harder to detect.

It is important to note that transplanted hair will not grow in a thickened scar. If your scar is thickened, the doctor can thin it out (soften it) with injections of cortisone. They are usually repeated at 4-6 week intervals in advance of the procedure. The number of injection sessions required depends upon the thickness of the scar and your individual response to the medication.

The presence of a traumatic scar should generally not determine which type of transplant you have. That should be decided in consultation with your physician based on factors such as how much volume you need, how you intend to style your hair, how short you would like to keep it, how soon you need to return to strenuous physical activity, and other general considerations for a hair transplant.

We recently posted photos from a patient who had a robotic hair transplant with a scar in his donor area. The photos include images of his donor area (with scar) before his procedure, immediately after robotic graft harvesting and 11 days post-op. View this patient’s before after photos.

Video: How Does the ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant System Locate and Dissect Follicular Units?

Hair Restoration Answers

Is FUE or FUT Better for an MMA Fighter?

Q: I am an MMA fighter and I want to get a hair transplant. How long do I have to be out of commission and which type of procedure should I have, FUE or FUT? — J.A., Columbus, OH

A: With any type of hair transplant it takes 10 days for the transplanted grafts to be permanently fixed in place. The difference between FUE and FUT is in the limitations of activity due to the donor area. With FUE one would need to abstain from MMA for the same 10 days it takes the recipient area to heal (the grappling component of Mixed Martial Arts is the most stressful on the scalp). With FUT, however, one would need at least three months for the linear donor scar to heal before one could resume contact sports like MMA.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Can I Better Understand How I Will Look After My Hair Transplant Before The Actual Procedure?

Q: How can I better understand how I will look after my hair transplant before I actually do the procedure? — E.M. ~ Wantagh, N.Y.

A: A key part of a hair loss evaluation is for the doctor to manage the patient’s expectations for possible benefits from both medication and surgery. The way we decide how to plan a hair transplant is through a careful history and examination, demarcating the extent of the hair transplant on the patient’s actual head and photographing it. When showing other photo results to patients, it is important to not only show before and after photos of the recipient area but also of the donor area; how the back of the head looks immediately after the procedure, at post-op intervals, and at different hair lengths. Most importantly, one should point out that every patient is different so that a picture of another person does not necessarily represent what you might achieve.

Hair Restoration Answers

What Problems Can Arise from Transplanting the Crown Too Early?

Q: What is the problem with transplanting the crown too early? — P.L., Newark, NJ

A: If a person’s hair loss continues –- which is almost always the case -– the crown will expand and leave the transplanted area isolated, i.e. looking like a pony-tail. The surgeon can perform additional hair transplant procedures to re-connect the transplanted area to the fringe, but this is a large area that can require a lot of hair, and it is often impossible to determine when a person is young if the donor supply will be adequate. View the full post to see a photo of a patient who had an early hair transplant to his crown.

Hair Restoration Answers

What Is Your Opinion on Doctors Performing Only FUT or Only FUE?

Q: It seems that some doctors offer only FUT and others only FUE. What is your opinion on that? — D.E., Portland, M.E.

A: Both FUT and FUE are excellent techniques, but have different indications. To deliver the best care for our patients, hair restoration physicians should have expertise in both procedures, and they should offer both in their practices.

The main advantage of FUT is that it typically (but not always) gives the highest yield of hair. Therefore, when the patient’s primary goal is to achieve maximum fullness, FUT should be performed. There are many well described reasons for this, including the precision of stereo-microscopic dissection and the ability to efficiently harvest from a more select area of the donor zone, but these are beyond the scope of this brief commentary.

The main advantage of FUE is no linear scar. Therefore, when the patient’s primary goal is to be able to wear his hair very short, FUE should be performed. FUE is also indicated when there is an increased risk of a widened scar or when scalp laxity does not permit a strip excision. The patient may sometimes chose FUE simply to avoid the stigma of a linear donor scar.

There are situations in which both procedures are useful in the same patient. For example, FUT may first be used to maximize yield, but then, after several sessions, the scalp may become too tight to continue to perform FUT, or the donor scar may become wider than anticipated. In the former case, the physician can switch to FUE to obtain additional grafts; in the latter case FUE may be used to camouflage the scar of the FUT procedure.

It is tempting to see the world in black and white, and it is easiest to learn and train one’s staff in just one hair transplant technique — but medicine is never so simple. Developments over the past twenty years have given us two excellent hair restoration procedures. We should offer our patients both.

Read about FUE Pros and Cons

Hair Restoration Answers

Can a Hair Transplant Treat an African-American Woman with Scarring Alopecia?

Q: I’m a 42 year old African-American woman and I’m losing hair on the crown of my head. Would I be a good candidate for a hair transplant? — E.E., Philadelphia, P.A.

A: Hair loss in the crown of an African American female can have several different etiologies, so the first thing to do is to make the right diagnosis. The most common causes of hair loss are androgenic alopecia (AGA) and scarring alopecia, also called ‘Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia,’ or CCCA. A biopsy is often useful to differentiate these two causes of hair loss when the diagnosis is unclear. A biopsy can also identify other, but less common, causes of crown hair loss.

Patients with central centrifugal cicatricial (scarring) alopecia are generally not candidates for a hair transplant procedure since the body may reject the transplanted hair. This condition is better treated with oral and injectable anti-inflammatory medications.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Play Contact Sports Right After a FUE Procedure?

Q: Can I play a contact sport, like football, right after having a FUE procedure? — C.N., Easton, P.A.

A: I performed a study (“Graft Anchoring in Hair Transplantation,” Dermatologic Surgery 2006; 32: 198-204) to answer a simple question, one that patients ask all the time: at what point are transplanted grafts so securely anchored in the scalp that they cannot be dislodged?

In the study, it was found that after 10 days the transplanted grafts become a permanent part of the body such that no amount of scrubbing or combing can dislodge them. So, while there are generally no limitations on strenuous exercise after a FUE procedure, we recommend waiting at least 10 days before playing any contact sport, like football, as the grafts could be dislodged if vigorously rubbed.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Many Hair Transplants Will I Need?

Q: How Many Hair Transplants Will I Need? — E.E., New York, N.Y.

A: The first session of a hair transplant should be designed as a stand-alone procedure with the following three goals:

  1. Establishing a permanent frame to the face by creating, or reinforcing, the frontal hairline.
  2. Providing coverage to the thinning, or bald, areas of the scalp with the hair transplant extending at least to the vertex transition point.
  3. Adding sufficient density so that the result will look natural.

Achieving all of these goals will allow the first procedure to stand on its own.

Because of this, many people feel one hair transplant is sufficient.

Reasons for Second Hair Transplant

While the first session of a hair transplant is designed to stand on its own, there are several reasons why one would want a second hair transplant, such as increasing the density in a previously transplanted area; refining the hairline created in the first transplant; focusing on increased crown coverage, when appropriate; or addressing further hair loss that’s occurred after the first transplant.

Hair Restoration Answers

Is FUE Scarless Surgery?

Q: I heard FUE is a scarless surgery. Is this true using any of the current FUE methods (ARTAS® robot, Neograft, manual FUE)? — V.S., Weston, C.T.

A: All hair transplant procedures, follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE), leave scars. FUT produces a linear scar at the back of the scalp that may be visible if you keep your hair short. FUE, on the other hand, leaves small dot scars at the back of the scalp that are not visible if you keep your hair short. These tiny scars will happen regardless of which FUE method is used, i.e., ARTAS robot, SAFE system, Neograft, or manual FUE. Some physicians who use the Neograft method advertise that there is no scarring involved when using the Neograft; however, this is not true: however, this is not true: there is some scarring associated with all FUE methods that increases with the total number of grafts harvested.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can A Hair Transplant Completely Replace My Lost Hair?

Q: I have a significant amount of hair loss. Can a hair transplant make me look exactly the way I did before I lost my hair? — V.S., Fairfield, C.T.

A: In most cases, the answer is no. All surgical hair restoration procedures move hair – they cannot create new hair. Specifically, surgical hair transplantation takes existing hair from the donor area (located in the back and on the sides of the scalp) and moves (transplants) them to the part of the scalp that has lost hair. It is usually the case that there is not enough hair in one’s donor area to replace all lost hair. That said, in persons with extensive hair loss, the restoration can often produce a dramatic improvement in one’s appearance.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can A Hair Transplant Damage Existing Hair Follicles In A Thinning Area?

Q: My hair is thinning, but I’ve been told I have too much existing hair to warrant a hair transplant. I heard that transplanting new hair into my thinned areas will lead to a loss of existing hair follicles. I was told to delay a hair transplant procedure until my density has further decreased. Is this true? — M.S., Maple Glen, P.A.

A: It is possible that you simply don’t need a hair transplant at this time one. If you have early thinning, it may be best treated with medication, or not at all. As you age, we will have a better idea of your thinning pattern and, at that time, a hair transplant may be more appropriate.

A hair transplant does not cause loss of hair follicles in the recipient area. The procedure may cause a temporary “shock” loss of the hair. Shock hair loss is a physiologic response to the trauma to the scalp which is caused by a hair transplant. Hair that is healthy is going to come back after some period of time – generally 6 months. Hair that may be near the end of its lifespan may not return. When a hair transplant is performed at the proper time, in the proper candidate, shock hair loss should just be an incidental issue.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Long Do Stitches Stay in After a Hair Transplant?

Q: I’ve heard that healing after a hair transplant requires stitches. How long will they stay in? — S.R., Cresskill, N.J.

A: In a follicular unit hair transplant, the surgeon removes a thin strip of scalp from the patient’s donor area that supplies the follicular unit grafts for the hair transplant. After the strip is removed we use either sutures (stitches) or staples to close the wound. We now close most wounds in the donor area with staples, rather than sutures, because we have found that staples cause less injury to the remaining hair follicles compared to sutures; therefore, more hair will be available for future hair restoration sessions. See Why We Changed from Sutures to Staples in FUT Hair Transplants.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Experienced Are Bernstein Medical Hair Restoration Technicians?

Q: I know Dr. Bernstein is one of the leading hair restoration surgeons in the country but what about his medical assistants? How experienced are the hair restoration technicians that help him during surgery? — E.N., Redding, C.T.

A: My medical assistants and technicians are full time employees, and many of them have worked closely with me for many years; in fact, many of them have been with me since the inception of FUT, the procedure I pioneered way back in 1995. I do not hire, nor have I ever hired, per diem technicians.

All my hair restoration technicians are highly skilled and experienced in stereo-microscopic dissection and follicular unit graft placement. Even with Robotic FUE, being highly skilled and experienced in stereo-microscopic dissection is important since every graft that the robot harvests is examined, counted, and, when necessary, trimmed to ensure they are of the highest quality before being implanted into the scalp.

Because of the intense in-house training of our staff, we have received national accreditation from the “Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care” (AAAHC/Accreditation Association) for maintaining rigorous standards in patient care.

Read more about how we train our surgical staff.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can A Hair Transplant Restore Hair Loss After Radiation Treatment?

Q: I received radiation therapy to my scalp two years ago to treat a brain tumor. I lost my hair during treatment and it has not grown back. The doctors said that this treatment might result in permanent hair loss. Is a hair transplant a viable option after radiation treatment? — K.G., Darien, C.T.

A: Unlike chemotherapy which generally causes a reversible shedding of hair (called anagen effluvium), radiation therapy can cause both reversible shedding and the permanent loss of hair follicles (scarring alopecia).  Hair can be successfully transplanted into these scarred areas – but there must be enough donor hair to do so. If the radiotherapy was localized, a hair transplant procedure is often quite effective – although several procedures may be required to achieve adequate coverage of the irradiated areas.

Hair Restoration Answers

If I Was Told That I Am Not A Good Candidate For An FUT Procedure Can I Have FUE?

Q: At one time, I was told my donor area was not sufficient for an FUT hair transplant procedure. Does this also mean I’m not qualified for a FUE procedure either? — K.K., Houston, T.X.

A: Great question. You are not giving me quite enough information to answer your question specifically, so I will answer in more general terms. If your donor hair supply was not good enough to do FUT (i.e. you have too little donor hair and too much bald area to cover) then most likely you will not be a candidate for FUE either, since both procedures require, and use up, donor hair. That said, if don’t need that much donor hair, but the nature of your donor area is such that a linear FUT scar might be visible then FUE might be useful.

An example would be the case in which a person has limited hair loss in the front of his scalp, has relatively low donor density, and wants to keep his hair on the short sides. In this case, FUT would not be appropriate as you might see the line scar, but we might be able to harvest enough hair through FUE to make the procedure cosmetically worthwhile. Remember, with low density neither procedure will yield that much hair to be used in the recipient area.

Another example is an Asian whose hair emerges perpendicular from the scalp so that a line incision is difficult to hide, i.e. the hair will not lie naturally over it. A third example is where the patient’s scalp is very tight. In this case, the donor density might be adequate, but it would just be hard to access it using a strip FUT procedure. In this case, FUE would also be appropriate.

From these situations, one can see that the decision to perform FUE vs FUT, or even a hair transplant at all, can be quite nuanced and requires a careful evaluation by a hair restoration surgeon with expertise in both procedures.

Hair Restoration Answers

Is a Hair Transplant Possible Using Someone Else’s Hair?

Q: Can you do a hair transplant using someone else’s hair? — K.K., Garden City, N.Y.

A: Unfortunately, this is not possible because your body would reject the hair transplant without the use of immunosuppressive drugs. The problem with immune suppressants is that they will lower your natural immune response, increasing your susceptibility to infections and even cancer, and you’ll have to take them for the rest of your life.

A transplant using someone else’s hair is also not desirable for aesthetic reasons. There’s the style of the hair, its texture, thickness, color, etc. Trying to find the perfect donor whose hair would complement and flatter your particular features and blend in with your remaining hair would be a significant, if not impossible, challenge. It would be possible, however, to transplant the hair from one identical twin to another, but most likely if one went bald, so would the other.

Hair Restoration Answers

Do You Transplant Hair Evenly if I Part My Hair on the Left?

Q: For patients who intend to keep their hair parted on the left side, do you follow any rule of making the left side more dense then the right or is it distributed evenly? — M.S., Simi Valley, C.A.

A: On a first hair transplant procedure, I generally place the sites/grafts symmetrically, even if a patient combs his hair to one side. The reason is that the person may change his styling after the procedure and I like to have the first hair transplant symmetrical for maximum flexibility. An exception would be a person with limited donor reserves. In this case, weighting on the part side is appropriate in the first procedure. Once the first hair transplant grows in and the person decides how he wants to wear his hair long-term a second transplant can be weighted to accommodate this. Weighting can be done in one, or both, of two ways: 1) by placing the sites closer together on the part side or 2) by placing slightly larger follicular units on the part side.

If a person decides to comb his hair back, then forward weighting is used. For greater details on this, please see some of my publications where I address the aesthetics of hair transplantation:

Bernstein RM, Rassman WR: The Aesthetics of Follicular Transplantation. Dermatol Surg 1997; 23: 785-99.

Bernstein RM, Rassman WR: Follicular Transplantation: Patient Evaluation and Surgical Planning. Dermatol Surg 1997; 23: 771-84.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Long After Facelift Can I Have Hair Transplant?

Q: I am having a facelift next month and also want to have a hair transplant soon after. How long should I wait between procedures? — S.H., Boston, M.A.

A: Although it would be possible to do a hair transplant as soon as a week after a face or brow lift, ideally one should wait at least three months between procedures for the following reasons: 1) there will be less tension in the donor area and, therefore, it will be possible to harvest more grafts, 2) if there is any shedding from the facelift it will make the planning of the hair transplant more difficult, 3) it will leave the option of adding hair, in or around, any problematic surgical scars, and 4) will provide the ability to add hair to any area of thinning that might result from the facelift.

Hair Restoration Answers

Does Surgeon Determine Angle of Hair In Hair Transplant?

Q: I notice that some patients end up with hair that seems to stand straight up while others have hair that flows to one side or the other. Does the angle at which you place the follicles in the scalp ultimately determine how the hair will lie? Is there some artistic talent needed when placing these follicles so that patients end up with hair that lies flat or sticks straight up? What determines this? Do we have control over it? — H.B., Fort Lauderdale, F.L.

A: Great question. You are correct, the angle of the recipient sites largely determines the hair direction. Hair should be planted the way it grows (i.e., in a forward and horizontal direction at the frontal hairline.) It is extremely important that it is transplanted that way to look natural. The body will alter the angle a bit as it heals, usually elevating it slightly and re-creating any prior wave (yes, waves are determined by the scalp, rather than by the hair follicles per se). In a properly performed hair transplant, a straight-up appearance should be due to grooming, it should not have been a result of the actual procedure. Hair should never be transplanted perpendicular to the scalp. I discussed these important concepts way back in my 1997 paper “The Aesthetics of Follicular Transplantation“.

Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant Is There Shock Hair Loss In Donor Area?

Q: I have seen through forums that a hair transplant gives severe shock loss in the donor zone (especially behind ears) after the surgery. Doctors say it is temporary and can last about six months or more. Frankly, do you believe in this? Will the donor shocked hair recover? — M.D., Darien, C.T.

A: It depends if you are speaking about follicular unit hair transplantation using strip harvesting (FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). With FUT, it is extremely uncommon to have any shock hair loss in the donor area. This could occur if the hair transplant procedure was done improperly, i.e. the donor area was closed too tightly. In this case, some hair loss may be permanent. This is one of the reasons that very large hair transplant sessions are unwise. Shock hair loss in FUE is more common, but is generally not significant and should eventually recover completely.

That said, some shock hair loss in the recipient area is quite common with either hair restoration procedure (FUT or FUE). This is particularly the case if there is a lot of existing miniaturized hair (hair that is starting to thin) in the transplanted area.

Hair Restoration Answers

Will I Need Multiple FUE Hair Transplants Over Time?

Q: I’ve noticed from the chatter on blogs, that it is not uncommon for men to go through multiple FUE procedures over 10+ year time-frame. It seems to be that after the initial FUE procedure to address moderate hair loss, the patient continues their natural balding to where they must undergo another FUE procedure in order to get back to their desired look. I’m almost 33 and while I take Propecia, my hair loss has been very gradual since I was about 26. I still have what many would consider a full head of hair, although very thin and with noticeable loss at my temples and crown. I’d always thought that a hair transplant would be a “1 and done” procedure, and now I’m concerned that if I do an FUE procedure now to replace what’s been already lost, I’ll just have to revisit a subsequent FUE down the line. Are ongoing FUEs simply part of the hair maintenance that a patient needs to accept about hair restoration process? — A.A., New Hyde Park, N.Y.

A: Your concerns are correct and would apply to any hair transplant procedure; FUT or FUE. That is why it is best not to begin hair restoration surgery too early.

Hair Restoration Answers

Why Recommend FUT Not FUE If I Have No Linear Scar?

Q: If I have no linear scar and I can exercise right away, why would you ever recommend FUT instead of FUE? — H.T., Dover, M.A.

A: I advise FUT because the grafts are of better quality (less transaction and more support tissue surrounding the follicle) and because more hair can be obtained from the mid-portion of the permanent zone –- which is where the hair is the best quality and most permanent. For the majority of patients a linear scar buried in the donor hair is not an issue. Each patient has to weigh the pros and cons of each procedure when making a decision.

Hair Restoration Answers

Why FUT Hair Transplant For One Person, FUE For Another?

Q: A while ago I saw you and you recommended FUT hair transplantation, but my friend came in and you recommended FUE. How come? — C.T., Hackensack, N.J.

A: I think that both procedures are excellent, which is why I do them both. My recommendations are determined by the individual patient. His or her age, desire to wear hair cut very short, athletic activities, donor density and miniaturization, extent of hair loss, and potential future balding are all important aspects in the decision process.

Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, is Recovery Faster with FUT or FUE?

Q: Is the recovery time a lot longer with FUT compared to FUE? — C.W., Chicago, I.L.

A: Cosmetically, the recovery for FUT is actually shorter, since the back and sides do not need to be shaved and the longer hair can completely cover the donor incision immediately after the Follicular Unit Transplant procedure. In large Follicular Unit Extraction procedures, the entire back and sides of the scalp need to be clipped very close to the scalp. It can take up to 2 or 3 weeks for the hair to grow long enough to completely camouflage the harvested area. Once the healing is complete and any redness has subsided, the hair can be cut shorter.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Long Are FUT and FUE Hair Transplants Visible After Procedure?

Q: How long are FUT and FUE visible after the procedures? — S.V., Weston, C.T.

A: The recipient area in both procedures is visible for up to 10 days. The donor area in FUT is generally not visible immediately after the procedure. In FUE, the donor area must be shaved, so that will be visible for up to two weeks (the time it takes for the hair to grow in).

Read about what to expect after an FUT hair transplant
Read about what to expect after an FUE hair transplant

Hair Restoration Answers

If There is Some Bleeding at the Graft Site, Will it Affect Growth?

Q: I am currently 8 days post op. I started to massage my hair in the shower to get rid of the scabs. When I was done I looked in the mirror and saw two of my transplanted hairs were slightly bleeding but still intact. What does that mean? Did I lose the grafts? — B.G., Stamford, C.T.

A: If they bleed, but were not dislodged (i.e. did not come out), they should grow fine. Just be gentle for the next week. Generally, when follicular unit transplantation is performed with tiny sites (19-21 gauge needles) the grafts are permanent at 10 days. Since I did not perform your procedure and am not familiar with the technique your doctor actually used, I would give it the extra few days.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can Pulling Out Transplanted Hair Effect Growth After Hair Transplant?

Q: At about six days post op, I started to notice hairs on the tips of my fingers as I rubbed off my scabs. Additionally, if I tugged on the hairs lightly, they would immediately come out without any resistance. I did notice the small bulb at the end of the hair. My question is: is it not recommended to remove these hairs that have separated from the follicle? Should I just allow them to fall out on their own, or does it matter at all? Can pulling hairs out at 10 days post op effect growth differently than individuals who allow the hairs to fall out naturally? — T.T., Boston, M.A.

A: At 10 days it should usually not make a difference, but I would still just let the hair fall out naturally when you shampoo. If there are any crusts (scabs) on the hair they are cosmetically bothersome, they can be gently scrubbed off in the shower at 10 days when very tiny recipient sites are used and you should wait slightly longer if larger sites were used. Since I don’t know the technique or site size used in your procedure, I would wait a full two weeks to be certain the grafts are permanent.

Hair Restoration Answers

Will Multiple Hair Transplant Procedures Improve Hair Density?

Q: I was told that I have low hair density in the donor area. Would multiple hair transplant procedures improve the results of my hair restoration? — J.G., Hoboken, NJ

A: Yes, but subsequent procedures would be smaller and there is a point of diminishing returns where additional procedures would yield so little hair that they would not be practical. There is a finite donor supply and once this is tapped, no more hair transplants are possible, regardless when one uses FUT or FUE.

Hair Restoration Answers

Risk of Visible Scar Long-term, FUT or FUE?

Q: What are the chances of the donor scarring being visible long-term in FUT compared to FUE? — M.M., Altherton, C.A.

A: Both FUT and FUE produce donor scarring; FUT, in the form of a line and FUE in the shape of small, round dots. With FUT hair transplantation, the line is placed in the mid-portion of the permanent zone, whereas in FUE the dots are scattered all over the donor area.

If a patient becomes extensively bald (i.e. the donor fringe becomes very narrow), the line of FUT will generally still remain hidden, whereas the dots of FUE will be seen above the fringe of hair. In the less likely scenario of the donor hair actually thinning significantly, both the line (of FUT) and the dots (of FUE) may become visible.

Hair Restoration Answers

Rare Complication Of A Hair Transplant: Necrosis In The Recipient Area

Q: What is the most common cause of necrosis (death of tissue) in the recipient area? — A.Q., Los Altos Hills, C.A.

A: Recipient site necrosis is one of the worst complications of a hair transplant and results in skin ulceration and scarring. Usually it is caused by a combination of a few or many factors. Each by itself should not present a risk. Read on for the list of risk factors.

Hair Restoration Answers

Which Is The Better Hair Transplant Technique, FUT or FUE?

Q: I am so confused reading about FUT and FUE on all the blogs. Can you please tell me which is better, FUT or FUE? — M.T., East Brunswick, NJ

A: FUT (via strip) will give the best cosmetic results (more volume) since the grafts are of better quality (when using microscopic dissection, there is less transection and more surrounding tissue to protect the grafts) and better graft selection (the grafts can all be harvested from the mid-portion of the permanent zone).

In contrast, in FUE you need approximately 5 times the area. Because of this large donor area requirement, some of the hair must be harvested from fringe areas and thus the hair will be less stable genetically.

Hair Restoration Answers

Do You Perform Hair Transplants With Body Or Leg Hair?

Q: Dr. Bernstein, can you please comment on leg and body hair transplants? — J.R., Ridgewood, NJ

A: I’ve tried the technique in the past but have been dissatisfied with the results. Scalp hair, unlike the rest of the body, has multiple hairs rising out of each follicle. With leg and body hair, you have only one hair per follicle, not follicular units of multiple hairs. Leg hair is also very fine. It might thicken up a little bit after it is transplanted, but not enough to be clinically useful. In men you want full thickness hair, so fine hair can make it look like it is miniaturizing, as it does when you’re losing it.

Hair Restoration Answers

Preventing Shock Hair Loss After Hair Transplant

Q: Can shock loss be eliminated by using special surgical techniques? — R.P., Short Hills, NJ

A: Although there have been no scientific studies proving this, shock hair loss can most likely be minimized by keeping the recipient sites parallel to the hair follicles, by not creating a transplanted density too great in areas of existing hair, and by using minimal epinephrine (adrenaline) in the anesthetic. We implement all of these techniques. Finasteride may also decrease shock hair loss, or at least help any (miniaturized) hair that is lost to re-grow. That said, some shock hair loss from a hair transplant is unavoidable regardless of the technique as it is a normal physiologic response to stress.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Long Between Hair Transplant Procedures?

Q: If I wanted a second procedure what is the typical time that I should wait after the first hair transplant? — P.L, Queens, NY

A: It takes about a year to see the full results of a hair transplant, so it is generally best to wait at least this time before considering a second -– since you may not need one.

Hair Restoration Answers

When To Assess One’s Donor Supply?

Q: I am 24 years old and just starting to thin. I was told by another doctor that it was too early to have a hair transplant, but the hair on the back and sides of my scalp seems really thick. Shouldn’t I have a hair transplant now, just in case I am not a candidate in the future? — A.S., Cherry Hill, NJ

A: The most important criteria in determining who will be a candidate for a hair transplant is the presence of sufficient permanent donor hair. When hair loss is early, it is often hard for the doctor to determine this, since early on the donor area can appear very stable. It is not until the front and/or top of the scalp has significant thinning that the donor area may also show thinning. Therefore, it is only at this time that the stability of the donor area can adequately be assessed.

Hair Restoration Answers

What Does Hair Transplant Procedure Do To Existing Hair?

Q: What does the hair transplantation process do to your existing hair? — R.V., London, UK

A: When we perform hair transplant surgery, we transplant into an area that is either bald or has some existing hair. The hair that is existing is undergoing a process called miniaturization. What this means is that the hairs are continuing to decrease in size – both in diameter and in length. When we perform a hair transplant, we don’t transplant around the existing miniaturized hair on your scalp, we transplant through it. And the reason why we do that is because the miniaturized hair, the fine hair that is being affected by DHT, is eventually going to disappear, so you don’t want there to be any gaps.

Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Tell If I Will Be A Candidate For A Hair Transplant?

Q: Can I tell before I start to bald if I will be a candidate for a hair transplant? — T.E., New York, NY

A: Usually not. The main reason one is either a candidate or not is the stability (permanency) of the hair in the back and sides of ones scalp – the donor area. Since the top of the scalp usually thins first, if the top has not started to thin, the donor area will always appear to be OK. It is only when you have significant thinning on the front or top of your scalp can we actually begin to assess the stability of the donor area with any degree of accuracy.

Hair Restoration Answers

Why Does Vice President Joe Biden’s Hair Transplant Look Unnatural?

Q: There is a famous hair transplant out there, Vice President, Joe Biden. How come it looks so unnatural? — W.S., Los Angeles, CA

A: With Joe Biden’s hair transplant a number of errors were made. Some were unavoidable due to the older technology and some were just poor planning. He had a hair transplant consisting mainly of large plugs because that was the way hair transplants were performed many years ago. But many of those plugs have now been fixed.

The persistent (but avoidable) problem is that Vice President Biden has a low, broad hairline. But when you see a low broad hairline one expects to see the rest of head to be covered with hair. But he didn’t have enough donor hair to accomplish this. With better planning, the hairline would have been more receded at the temples, producing a more natural, balanced look.

Hair Restoration Answers

When Are Surgical Staples Removed After Hair Transplant?

Q: I hear you leave staples in sometimes up to three weeks after a hair transplant. Why do you leave staples in that long? – M.C., Boca Raton, FL

A: My reason for leaving some staples in longer is that the tensile strength of the wound continues to increase (significantly) during the first three week period after surgery — actually, it will continue to gain strength for up to one year post-op. To give the wound the best chance to heal, on average, I take out alternating staples at 10 days and the remaining staples at 20 days.

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Updated: 2017-12-18 | Published: 2013-06-06




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