Robotic Hair Transplants & Hair Restoration
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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Start Propecia Before Hair Loss Consultation?

Q: I am a 34 year old male and my dermatologist prescribed Propecia for me today. Most of my hair loss is at the hairline, but there is some loss on top as well. It’s not bad, I just want to stay ahead of it. If I get a transplant I want to get it at your clinic, but I will give the Propecia a try first. I am going to be overseas for a couple of months starting this Sunday and I was wondering about the necessity or desirability of having someone measure my hair density prior to starting the Propecia. Would you advise waiting to start the Propecia until I come back in two months and having my density examined at your clinic? — M.R., Great Falls, Virginia

A: I would start Propecia as soon as possible. What is important for a hair transplant is the density in the donor area and this is not affected by Propecia (or minoxidil). Your donor density can be measured anytime at an evaluation prior to surgery. If you want to wait to see the effects of Propecia prior to the hair transplant, you really should wait a year; since growth, if any, can take this long. If you just want to have Propecia on board for the hair restoration procedure, or to make sure you don’t have side effects, then generally a month will do. If you would like to do a photo consult through our website to get some preliminary information about how many grafts you might need, you can do that at your leisure, but start Propecia now since the longer you wait the less effective it will be at regrowing hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Could Taking Finasteride Or Minoxidil Make A Hair Transplant Possible If My Donor Area Is Thin?

Q: You said I was not a good candidate for a hair transplant because my donor area was too thin. Since finasteride and minoxidil can increase the thickness of the hair, could it make a hair transplant possible?

A: Unfortunately, the medication will not affect the donor area and, therefore, not make a person with low donor density a candidate for a hair transplant.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Strip Harvesting In Hair Transplant Make Donor Area Smaller?

Q: I have been reading about hair transplantation and I have a question concerning FUT (strip-harvesting). I understand, in this method, a strip is excised from the back of the scalp, the wound then closed. I wonder, then, is not the overall surface of the scalp reduced in this procedure? After two or three procedures, especially, (or even after one large session) will not a patient’s hairline also be shifted? That is, the front hairline would move back by the amount of scalp excised, or, more likely, the “rear hairline” (which ends at the back of the neck) must certainly be “moved upward.” At least, this is how I imagine it would be. Is my logic flawed? I’ve been trying to understand this in researching the procedure, but the point still evades me. — M.M., Great Falls, V.A.

A: The hair bearing area is much more distensible (stretchable) than the bald area and just stretches out after the procedure. As a result, the density of the hair in the donor area will decrease with each hair transplant session, but the position of the upper and lower margins of the donor area don’t move much – if at all. As a result, the major limitation of how much donor hair can be removed is the decreasing hair density, rather than a decrease in the size of the donor area.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, What Is Recommended Hair Length To Hide Scar?

Q: I never kept my hair really long, what length can I wear my hair after a hair transplant to hide that I had a procedure? — D.F., Chappaqua, N.Y.

A: Hair transplants, whether using the strip method to harvest the donor hair or by extracting individual follicular units one-by-one directly from the scalp, will leave some scarring. If the hair is long enough so that the underlying scalp is not visible, these scars will not be seen.

The quality and density of a person’s donor hair will affect this coverage and determine how short a person may keep his hair. In some cases the back and sides can be cut to a few millimeters, in others it would need to be kept longer. Since there is no scarring in the recipient area (the front and top of the scalp where the grafts are placed) the hair in these areas may be kept at any length.

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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

Is a Hair Transplant to Recreate a Dense Hairline Too Good to be True?

Q: It’s a question that greatly concerns me because I’m investigating getting a transplant sometime next year. I’m 28 and thought I started balding at 26, but photographic evidence suggests it had started somewhere around age 24. I’m roughly a Class 2 now, and thanks to finasteride, I’ve stayed almost exactly where I was at 26 with some improvement (not really cosmetically significant though). However, I am convinced I have some crown and top of the scalp thinning too, but not to a visible degree.

These people getting these miraculous jobs from Canada – it is a trick, right? They can’t honestly expect to be able to get away with what they’ve done over the course of their entire lives, can they? — L.M., Great Falls, V.A.

A: I think you have better insights into hair loss than many hair transplant surgeons. ABI was the “rare” patient who seems to be a stable Class 3. I made that judgment due to: almost no miniaturization at the border of his Class 3 recession, no crown miniaturization, and his unusual family history. He had several older family members who stayed at Class 3 their whole lives.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Before a Hair Loss Evaluation, Should I Fast or Change My Diet?

Q: I am a 47 year old woman with thinning on the top of my scalp for three years. I think I want to go for a comprehensive evaluation for hair loss and know that the doctor may want to take blood tests to help find out the cause of my hair loss. I am not sure if I need to fast before I come in? — R.B., West University Place, TX

A: Fasting is not necessary for a comprehensive evaluation.

The comprehensive diagnosis may include hair pull tests, hair pluck, hair density measurements, anagen telogen ratios, scalp biopsies and laboratory (blood) tests but no pre-test fasting or other preparation is necessary.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Can I Tell if Hair Transplant Doctor is Trustworthy if They Charge by the Graft?

Q: I had a follicular unit hair transplant performed by another doctor that was scheduled for 2,500 grafts and I ended up paying for exactly that amount. I was supposed to be paying per graft, so it seems strange that it came out to be exactly 2,500? How do I know what I really got? — J.R., Westport, C.T.

A: This is a question that should be addressed to the doctor that operated on you.

If a doctor is charging by the graft, then you should know exactly how many grafts you are receiving. It is possible that he/she hit the number (2500) exactly on the head, but statistically that is extremely unlikely.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Second Hair Transplant Session be Different than First Session?

Q: My first hair transplant was a breeze. Will a second procedure be any different than the first? — B.B., Murray Hill, N.Y.

A: Generally in a second procedure, a patient can expect less swelling post-up although the reason for this is not known.

There will also generally be less shedding in the second hair transplant session since the weak miniaturized hair that will be shed is often lost in the first session and the previously transplanted hair is generally more resistant to shedding.

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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

Do You Use Megasessions or Very Large Graft Sessions In Your Hair Transplant Procedures?

Q: Some surgeons are doing hair transplants using 5,000 to 6,000 grafts in a single surgery. Looking at the cases in your photo gallery, it seems like your hair transplants involve many fewer grafts per surgery. Do you do such large graft numbers in a single hair restoration procedure? — H.P., Cranston, R.I.

A: The goal in surgical hair restoration should be to achieve the best results using the least amount of donor hair (the patient’s permanent reserves) and not simply to transplant the most grafts in one session. In my opinion, although large sessions are very desirable, the recent obsession with extremely large numbers of grafts in one session is misplaced. The focus should be on results.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Big is the Donor Strip in an FUT Hair Transplant?

Q: Can you give me an idea of the average width of a donor strip, i.e. the actual width taken from the back of your scalp for a hair transplant? — A.E., Fort Lee, N.J.

A: The average donor strip is 1cm wide, although this will vary depending on the patient’s scalp laxity, density, and the number of grafts desired for the hair restoration.

The length also depends on the number of grafts needed. We average 90-100 follicular unit grafts per cm2 of donor tissue (that is the density of follicular units in an average person).

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Does Densitometry Help Diagnose Hair Loss?

Q: Dr. Bernstein, I was reading about a densitometer on your website. What is it and what is it actually used for? — Z.A., Westchester, NY

A: The hair densitometer was introduced to hair restoration surgeons by Dr. Rassman in 1993. It is a small, portable, instrument that has a magnifying lens and an opening of 10mm2.

To use it, the doctor clips the hair short (~ 1-mm) and the instrument is then placed on the scalp. The doctor counts the total number of hairs in the field, looks at the number of hairs per follicular unit and assesses the diameter of the hair, looking in particular for abnormal levels of miniaturization (decreased hair shaft diameter caused by the effects of DHT).

The densitometer can increase the accuracy of the diagnosis of genetic hair loss by picking up early miniaturization.

It can also better assess a person’s donor hair supply, thus helping to determine which patients are candidates for a hair transplant.

Densitometry has helped us define the conditions of diffuse patterned and unpatterned hair loss (DPA and DUPA) and help to refine the diagnosis of hair loss in women.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is Best Hair Transplant Density and do You Measure Maximum or Overall Hair Density?

Q: Dear Dr. Bernstein, a full head of hair averages ~100 FU/cm2. To achieve the appearance of fullness with a hair transplant 50% is required. In one of your articles you say that you recommend 25 FU / cm2 to your patients. Is that the density per one session or the final one? If that is final density, then it is far below the 50%. Please explain as I am profoundly confused. — W.N., Easton, C.T.

A: If a person is to become a Norwood Class 6, the hair that we have available for us to transplant is only about 12% of what was there originally. This, of course, will vary from patient to patient depending upon one’s donor density and scalp laxity and a host of other factors.

We make the hair restoration look good by restoring 25-50% in the front, and proportionately less in the back. Logically one cannot restore 1/2 of ones original density to an entire bald scalp with only a thin strip of donor hair – there is just not enough hair, even with multiple sessions.

I transplant 25-35 FU/mm2 in one session, but this is the density created in the front, not overall.

Due to follicular unit graft sorting (placing the larger follicular units in the forelock area) this provides even more density than the actual numbers suggest. If someone is relatively certain to have more limited hair loss, then the numbers can be increased, but it is risky if you underestimate the degree of eventual hair loss.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does the Donor Area Decrease in Size Over Time?

Q: I am 22 and want to go for hair transplantation. I want hair restoration surgery now because I have a concern about my donor area that it might diminish if I postponed my transplantation. Could this be the case? — T.J., Westchester County, N.Y.

A: The logic is not correct. Having a hair transplant at an early age does not protect the donor supply.

If your donor area diminishes over time, then the transplanted grafts will fall out as well. Hair does not become permanent just because is moved in a hair transplant. It is never any better than the hair in the area where it came from.

The longer you wait – i.e. the older you are when a hair transplant is performed – the more information we will have about the stability of your donor area and this will allow for optimal planning of the hair restoration.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What Factors Determine Hair Transplant Graft Count?

Q: Is it possible to tell me roughly how many grafts would be left from donor area if one had a hair transplant of 2,500 grafts and had a density of around 2.0? G.H. – New York, NY

A: How much hair can be harvested in total depends upon a number of factors besides donor density. These include: scalp laxity, hair characteristics (such as hair shaft diameter, color and wave), and the actual dimensions of the permanent zone.

Every person is different, so all of these factors would need to be taken into account to determine the total number of grafts that would be available for the hair restoration.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is the Effect of Multiple Hair Transplant Procedures on the Scalp?

Q: I have had 4 hair transplants with strips taken out for a total of 2600 grafts over 15 years. The last one was 1,650 grafts. My doc says my donor site is good for a few more but I think it has been probably stretched to its max. Is it believable that the skin can be stretched to such extremes safely? – Murray Hill, N.Y.

A: The scalp is very resilient to stretching, particularly in those with a loose scalp to begin with. After removing a strip, the laxity often returns to normal or very close to it within 6 months to a year.

The problem with multiple hair transplant procedures is not only that scalp laxity may decrease, but that the donor density decreases as well. If too much hair is harvested, the donor area may eventually appear too thin. This may happen with either Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

Therefore, it is important the doctor not only assess the scalp laxity, but the residual donor density.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Many Grafts are in the Typical Donor Strip in an FUT Hair Transplant?

Q: If I had a hair transplant using Follicular Unit Transplantation, how many grafts would be in a 15cm by 1cm donor strip, on average? — J.A. Point Pleasant, N.J.

A: In a person with average donor density there are approximately 100 follicular units per square centimeter. A 15cm long strip would have slightly less than 1500 grafts due to the tapering of the strip ends.

Therefore, in a hair transplant of 1500 follicular unit grafts, one should take out a 17 cm x 1cm strip (that includes the tapered ends). This is 15cm2.

Read about the number of grafts in a hair transplant

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Dr. Bernstein Is Lead Author Of Follicular Unit Transplantation Article In ‘Dermatologic Clinics’

Follicular Unit Transplantation - Dermatologic Clinics“Dermatologic Clinics” is a hard-cover quarterly peer review publication with comprehensive, state-of-the-art information by experts in the field of dermatology. In a 2005 issue entitled “Advanced Cosmetic Surgery”, Dr. Bernstein is lead author of the article: “Follicular Unit Transplantation: 2005.”

This valuable contribution to the field of surgical hair restoration explores techniques and best practices of the surgical procedure known as Follicular Unit Transplantation that Dr. Bernstein pioneered and is now considered the state-of-the-art in hair transplant surgery.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Do You Recommend Treating Early Hair Loss?

Q: I am 27 years old and have a Class 3 degree of hair loss. Should I do a hair transplant or consider non-surgical methods of hair restoration? — Y.B., Lake Forest Illinois

A: At age 27 with early hair loss, you should consider non-surgical options first.

Propecia is the most important medication, but you need to be on it for one year at the full dose of 1mg a day to assess its benefits.

If you have done this and other parameters are OK for a hair transplant, such as adequate donor hair density and scalp laxity and you have little evidence that you will become extensively bald (i.e. no donor miniaturization and no family history of extensive baldness), then hair transplantation can be considered.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Have a Hair Transplant If I Have Fine Hair?

Q: My hair is fine. Is that a problem for a hair transplant? — N.R., Boston, MA

A: Fine hair will give a thinner look than thicker hair, but will look completely natural. Thin hair doesn’t prevent one from having surgical hair restoration, providing your donor density and scalp laxity are adequate. These would need to be measured.

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