Hair Transplants: Coverage! Losing donor hair. Why you don’t go to just ANY Clinic
Having worked as a Hair Transplant Specialist for 5 years, I field questions, myths, realities and wake up calls on a daily basis. I do so because I myself once looked in the mirror and saw hair loss and decided to get a hair transplant at a random clinic which resulted in a horrible looking, unnatural and pluggy hairline which sent me into a depression for years.
My salvation came at the hands of the Surgical Centre of Sure Hair International in 2006 who repaired my bad transplant and gave me the natural hairline I enjoy today. It was several years after my hair transplant which I began working for the company which changed my life. I spend most of my time fixing patients who have had horrible results from other clinics.
This article talks about one of the most important problems I deal with every day – individuals who tried to cheap out and get a transplant done at low cost – they get screwed over, poor growth, unnatural results, large scars…the list goes on and on. I have hundreds of guys who scoff at me when I tell them the price of a transplant and I warn them about what you are about to read and they go on and spend 3k for a hair transplant. I have had almost all of them return several years later with horrible results which limits what we can (keep reading for why) do and I have to charge them more money than what we would have originally as we have to repair the work which takes much longer.
The first message I always say and the rule of law in the online community “Do not let cost be a deciding factor when getting a hair transplant.” I know the industry and I can tell you matter of fact that you will not get a good transplant in North America for under 6000-10000 CAD. That being said, just because someone (like the Hair Mills of the world) charges a lot does not mean they are good clinics but just good at advertising and not good at doing good work.
This article talks about 1 part of a successful or horrible transplant…donor hair.
1)Most people get lied to about how much hair they have, how many hairs they need to fill up their head (I get people telling me they were told that with 1200 grafts they would get a full head of hair and they were completely bald!). I have also seen precious donor grafts lost in the 1000’s…once they are gone we can not get them back and sadly for some they are forced to hide their results underneath hair systems, wigs and hats.
See this case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXJe48y6FHs&feature=player_embedded
2)I hear all the time wild claims by clinics saying you have 15000 grafts available! OKAY (smacking head to desk)! I bought into this at one time too – however math does not lie.
Here’s what you need to know regarding how much hair you have lost and how much you have and how much you need.
The average person has about 80-110 grafts (1 graft = appx 2.6 hairs) per Cm/2. If you are Caucasian you will have likely around this. European similar. Middle eastern: slightly less (90 grafts/cm2). Asian – 80-90grafts cm/2. African American – 80-100 grafts/cm 2
If you want to know how much hair you have lost – take a measuring tape and take a length by width area of the hair loss in Centimeters and multiply it by your ethnical background. If you are Caucasian and have an area of loss 10cm2 multiply by 100 = 1000 grafts pr 2600 hairs lost. If you have 20cmX10cm area of loss = 200cm2 X 100 = 20,000 grafts lost.
You can calculate this very easily when looking in the mirror. The general rule of thumb is that you need minimum 30% of the hair you have lost to give a decent level of coverage, 50% of your original amount of hair you have lost to have the appearance of almost a full head of hair. You will not notice you have lost hair until you lost about 30-60% of your hair!
So let’s take a guy who is a Norwood 6 (completely bald in hairline and crown) with an area of loss of 10X20 X 100 grafts per cm2 = 20,000 lost grafts.
He would need about 8000 grafts to give adequate coverage in hairline and a thinning crown. Now – how many grafts can you get in one surgery?
3) I don’t care what anyone tells you – you don’t have 15000 grafts available in the donor area. What is the donor area?
If you look at any man – no matter how bald he is – he always has hair at the sides and back of the head – just above and below the ears. This is a ridge of hair known as “Donor” hair as we know that this area will never fall out on men (it may thin but slightly) – this is where we take hair during a transplant. So how much hair can you get in one surgery?
To begin – lets start with the strip method (where we take a long linear strip of hair to be transplanted)…FUE we will discuss later.
Take a measuring tape and put the measuring tape above your left ear towards and wrap it around behind your head above and in front of the right ear as far as you can where you have hair. You will see you have likely somewhere between 25cm-33cm on average. Based upon your background you can multiply this number by number of grafts per cm2. So if you are Caucasian and you measured 30cm in length at the back multiply by 100 = 3000 Grafts or 8000ish hairs.
We only remove a strip of skin approximately 1cm in with as if we go wider the scar will become very wide. If you have good laxity (loose skin) we can usually go a little wider than 1cm to get more hair.
So if you find you have an area of loss of 10cm 2 = 1000 grafts lost – you would need at least 500 hairs to give you the appearance of a full head of hair. If you have lost 20,000 grafts you would need 8000 which would mean you would need multiple surgeries to get the coverage. If we place 3000 grafts over an area which has lost 20,000 grafts, the density will be so low you will still look bald with some hair. This is why we always, in the first surgery, do a dense transplant in the hairline to give you the best cosmetic benefit – when someone looks at you.
The issue is that most people get lied to about how many grafts they need and how many are needed to give a good appearance.