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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
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.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Do Propecia (Finasteride) and Rogaine (Minoxidil) Work on Front of the Scalp?

Q: Both Propecia and Minoxidil definitely can work in the front of the scalp as long as there is some hair in the area. Although their mechanisms of action are different, both Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) act to thicken miniaturized hair regardless of where it is on the scalp. In fact, there are published data (Leyden et. al., JAAD, 1999) demonstrating this improvement in a controlled clinical trial of men with frontal hair loss. — J.S., Great Falls, Virginia

A: Both Propecia and Minoxidil definitely can work in the front of the scalp as long as there is some hair in the area. Although their mechanisms of action are different, both Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) act to thicken miniaturized hair regardless of where it is on the scalp. In fact, there are published data (Leyden et. al., JAAD, 1999) demonstrating this improvement with finasteride in a controlled clinical trial of men with frontal hair loss.

The source of the confusion on this topic is the fact that the FDA limited the application of the drugs to the crown on the package inserts for both Propecia and Rogaine. The FDA did this because Upjohn (the company that introduced Rogaine) and Merck (Propecia) only tested the medications on the crown in the clinical trials. Logically, the fact that DHT causes frontal hair loss and Propecia works by blocking DHT gives a reasonable explanation for the efficacy of the drug on the front of the scalp. Also, a side effect of the use of minoxidil is facial hair, so how could it not also work on the front of the scalp? It is regrettable that some doctors and many patients think that these medications won’t work on the front of the scalp. Unfortunately, many hair restoration surgeons have done little to educate the public and dispel this myth.

To reiterate, yes, both of these medications can work on the front of the scalp to prevent hair loss and thicken a thinning hairline. However, it is important to note that neither of these medications can grow hair on a totally bald scalp or lower an existing hairline. Hair follicles must exist for the medications to work. It is also important to stress that the best results come from using both finasteride and minoxidil together.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Are Follicular Unit Grafts Distributed in a Hair Transplant?

Q: How are grafts distributed in a hair transplant? Are they distributed evenly? — B.V., Jersey City, NJ

A: Actually, we don’t make the transplanted hair evenly distributed. It is usually front weighted, so that the hair restoration will look most full when looking at the person head on.

Framing the face is the most important part of the restoration. Covering the top is the next most important region and, if the patient has enough donor supply, then hair can be added to the crown.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Propecia Or Rogaine Restore My Original Hair Density?

Q: You mentioned that the hair at my crown and other areas where I now have baldness hasn’t really fallen off but has thinned to a great extent and that taking Rogaine and Propecia might help increase their thickness. If the medications do restore the hair thickness, I’m curious why you said that I could look like how I was 1 to 2 years ago. Technically, shouldn’t I be able to regain much more of my hair (and look like how I was longer than before that) since the follicles are all still there? — H.D., Park Slope, NY

A: Although Propecia is much more effective than Rogaine, even when used together, the medications are just not that effective in reversing the miniaturization process. They may bring you back to the way you were a few years ago, but will not restore your adolescent density.

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Hair Restoration Answers

When Should Hair Transplant Be Considered For Thinning Area?

Q: At what level of thinning should the hair transplant be done? — V.K., London, UK

A: A hair transplant should be considered in an area of thinning when:

  • The area has not responded to medical therapy (finasteride 1mg a day orally and minoxidil 5% topically for one year).
  • The thinning is significant enough that it can’t be disguised with simple grooming (i.e. is a cosmetic problem even when the hair is combed well).

Other factors that are important include:

  • the age of the patient
  • the donor supply
  • whether the thinning is in the front of the scalp or in the crown
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Hair Restoration Answers

In Follicular Unit Hair Transplant, Can You Double-up Follicular Units and Still Call it FUT?

Q: Could you accept easing of the very strict definition of FUT, which you published about 15 years ago? Could you agree to use mixture of single FU and double FU under the name of FUT? — N.W., Huntington, N.Y.

A: One would never want grafts larger than the largest original follicular units or the results will not look natural. The artificially large grafts will stand out in relatively thin surroundings. If one were to try to fix this by transplanting the doubled FUs very close together (over one or more sessions) one risks running out of grafts for other areas of the scalp. In other words, you can’t fool mother nature.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can You Have a Hair Transplant to the Crown Before the Front or Top of Scalp?

Q: Can the crown be transplanted first instead of frontal area? Why is the crown the last choice? Any reasons behind it? — H.H., Ladue, M.I.

A: The crown can be transplanted first in patients who have very good donor reserves (i.e., high density and good scalp laxity). Otherwise, after a hair restoration procedure to the crown you may not be left with enough hair to complete the front and top if those areas were to bald.

Cosmetically, the front and top are much more important to restore than the back. A careful examination by a trained hair restoration surgeon can tell how much donor hair there is available for a hair transplant.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Affect Hair Loss in Men and Women Differently?

Q: Have there been any studies showing the difference between men and women in their response to laser treatments for hair loss?

A: In the International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology (Vol. 5, Number 2; 2003), a study on low level laser therapy (LLLT) was conducted which indicated that there was a 55% increase of growth (hair count) in the temporal area as well as 64% in the vertex of the female subjects who were treated with LLLT for hair loss. The study also indicated a 74% increase in the hair counts of the male subjects in the temporal area and 120% in the vertex region. These results would initially indicate that LLLT works better in men than in women, but there were four times as many men in this study so the results might be different in a larger test group.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should Young Person Start with Hair Transplant at Crown?

Q: I am 26 years old, have had two successful hair transplants, but am still losing hair in the crown area. The doctor I have worked with told me that he does not do crown work on anyone until they are at least 40 (due to lack of donor area). I have very thick hair and the transplanted area looks as if nothing was lost. Would you do work on someone my age in their crown area if they have enough donor hair? — A.W., Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: Although I am hesitant to start with the crown when transplanting a younger person, if you have good coverage on the front and top of your scalp from the first two sessions then extending the hair transplant into your crown may be reasonable. It depends upon your remaining donor supply and an assessment of how bald you will become. I would need to examine you.

If it is likely that you will progress only to a Norwood Class 6, then transplanting your crown can be considered. If you will progress to a Class 7 then you should not since, in the long term, hair that was placed in the crown might be better used for other purposes, such as connecting the transplanted top to receding sides.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Hair Transplant Grow Slower in Crown than Front of Scalp and Will Hair Grow More Slowly After Second Transplant?

Q: I had my second hair restoration procedure nearly 5 months back. New hair in the front part of the head is growing well, but the crown is growing slow. Is this common? Also does the new hair grow more slowly after second hair transplant procedure? — B.V., Richmond, U.K.

A: Yes, it is typical for hair in the crown to grow more slowly than the front and top of the scalp and the second procedure generally grows more slowly than the first.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Rogaine Only Work on Crown?

Q: I heard that Rogaine only works on the crown and not on the front or top of the scalp. Is this true? — D.D., New Haven, Connecticut

A: Rogaine (Minoxidil) has the potential to work where ever there is miniaturized hair, either the front, top or crown (however, it will not work in areas that are completely devoid of hair).

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can a Hair Transplant Treat Hair Loss that begins in the Early 20s?

Q: I am in my early 20’s and I was told my hair loss pattern is a Norwood Class 6, on its way to becoming a Class 7. My hair is brown in color and medium to coarse and I was told I have high density in my donor area. Although I was told I could have hair transplants, do you think that I should based upon what I have told you? — D.W., Pleasantville, N.Y.

A: The main concern I would have is that when someone is already a Class 6 by their early 20’s, he may eventually be left with only a very thin see-through fringe as he ages. A high donor density now does not ensure that this will not occur – and coarse hair at 22 does not ensure that it will not become fine over time.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Why Should Hair Transplant Doctor Measure Miniaturization in Donor Area Before Transplant?

Q: Why should a doctor measure miniaturization in the donor area before recommending a hair transplant? — E.B., Key West, F.L.

A: Normally, the donor area contains hairs of very uniform diameter (called terminal hairs). In androgenetic hair loss, the action of DHT causes some of these terminal hairs to decrease in diameter and in length until they eventually disappear (a process referred to as “miniaturization”). These changes are seen initially as thinning and eventually lead to complete baldness in the involved areas.

These changes affect the areas that normally bald in genetic hair loss, namely the front and top of the scalp and the crown. However, miniaturization can also affect the donor or permanent regions of the scalp (where the hair is taken from during a hair transplant). If the donor area shows thinning, particularly when a person is young, then a hair transplant will not be successful because the transplanted hair would continue to thin in the new area and eventually disappear. It is important to realize that just because hair is transplanted to another area, that doesn’t make it permanent – it must have been permanent in the area of the scalp it initially came from.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Instead of Hair Transplant, Can You Treat Early Hair Loss with Once a Day Minoxidil?

Q: I have some early thinning in my crown and the doctor said I am too early for a hair transplant. I don’t want to take Propecia, but using Rogaine twice a day is a big nuisance. Can I use Rogaine once a day? — L.B., Cleveland, Ohio

A: The tissue half-life of minoxidil is 22 hours.

This means that 22 hours after it is applied, about 1/2 of the compound is still bound to the skin and exerting some effect. Because of this, once a day dosing is probably OK.

Please note that this is hypothetical and that there have been no controlled studies to confirm this.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is Graft Compression in a Hair Transplant?

Q: What exactly is compression in a hair transplant? — D.O., Short Hills, N.J.

A: Compression refers to the visible tufting of grafts due to the contraction of the grafts from the normal elasticity of skin around it, after it has been inserted into the recipient site.

Compression is most commonly seen when minigrafts are used in the hair restoration (minigrafts contain more than four hairs each).

Follicular units don’t show visible compression, since they are already naturally compact. However, if more than one follicular unit is placed into the same site, it can exhibit this phenomenon.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Hair Transplant for Thinning Hair on a Crown?

Q: Should you perform a hair transplant on a crown that is just starting to thin? — R.R. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A: A “thin” crown should first be treated with Propecia, as it may thicken the hair to a cosmetically acceptable degree without the need for surgery. If Propecia is ineffective in restoring enough hair, then surgical hair restoration can be considered.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Consider Hair Transplant if I Have Early Hair Loss in Crown and Donor Area?

Q: I’m currently 24 years old. Ever since turning 20, my hair on top began to thin little by little. I have noticeable thinning on the top part of my scalp and on my crown, but have no recession at the temples. My hairline looks amazingly young and hair on the donor areas seems quite thick. Am I in the early stages of male patterned baldness? I cannot place myself in the Norwood scale since my thinning doesn’t seem to follow the classic pattern. I just started on Propecia. Should I be considering a hair transplant? — B.R., Landover, MD

A: From the description, it sounds like you have typical Diffuse Patterned Hair Loss or Diffuse Patterned Alopecia (DPA). In this condition, the top of the scalp thins evenly, the donor area remains stable, and the hairline is preserved for a considerable period of time. Please see: Classification of Hair Loss in Men for more information.

Propecia would be the best treatment at the outset. When the hair loss becomes more significant, patients with DPA are generally good candidates for surgical hair restoration. It is important, however, that your donor area is checked for miniaturization to be sure that it is stable before a hair transplant is considered.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Follicular Hair Transplantation Makes Splash After Bernstein Introduces Procedure To American Academy of Dermatology

Cosmetic Surgery Times
Cosmetic Surgery Times - April 1997

Cosmetic Surgery Times features Dr. Bernstein’s presentation to the 55th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in their April 1997 issue.

The article describes Dr. Bernstein’s introduction of the concept of Follicular Unit Transplantation to the academy as well as the keys to making the technique successful. From the article:

“‘Hair doesn’t grow singly it grows in naturally occurring groups of from one to four hairs. In follicular transplantation, we use these naturally occurring groups as the unit of the transplant,’ he told CST.

Although the procedure is highly labor intensive, it can actually be less expensive than conventional hair replacement surgery, because it can be performed in a single, but lengthy, session.

‘It is also much more efficient and conserves donor hair much better than conventional hair transplants. Every time you make an incision in the person’s scalp you waste some hair and make the remaining hair more difficult to remove. Accessing the donor area just once or twice will increase the total amount of hair that is available for the transplant,’ Dr. Bernstein told CST.”

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