I had a hair transplant. Is my hair density going to cover my full head? I am concerned about my density! (Photo)
Doctor Answers 6
You can improve transplant results with better graft healing and thickening native hair, but your timeline is a bit tight
I think I can assist you with your question as I have been performing hair transplant surgery for over 20 years in Manhattan and Long Island. I am also the founder of TrichoStem® Hair Regeneration centers, which provides a non-surgical hair loss treatment alternative that makes use of extracellular matrix and platelet-rich plasma (PRP). I’m also a Board-certified cosmetic surgeon and an oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
Usually, when people shop for hair transplant surgery, they often look at the number of grafts that can be transplanted, and overlook the limitation of the actual number of grafts that can be harvested from the donor area. In your case, you received a relatively high number of grafts during your transplant. In fact, we can say that you had a “mega session”, as you received enough grafts for two transplants in one session. In addition to this, we also have to take into account that you have very advanced hair loss. This means that, even if all 5500 hair grafts survive, you would still have a significant lack of overall density compared to when you still had hair.
To give you a better idea about density, your peak hair count was about 100,000 hairs in your early teens. Upon first noticing the signs of hair loss, you’ve already lost about half of that number. For natural surface density, people usually have about 50-70 hairs per square centimeter, in contrast to hair transplant surgery which can only transplant about 20 hairs per square centimeter. From these factors, you can understand that a hair transplant cannot achieve natural, full density, but is effective in making someone look not as bald as they were prior to the procedure.
To understand a bit more about the phase you’re in, you have to understand that there are two things that can happen after hair transplant surgery. Usually, immediately after the surgery, the hair grafts look quite good. After a few months, it is not unusual for the grafts to undergo shock loss, which means that the hairs temporarily go into the telogen or shedding phase. In such cases, the top of hairs fall out, but the roots or the dermal papilla remains in the scalp. In addition to this, collateral shock loss may also occur on adjacent hairs. Another thing that is not unusual to see is long-term collateral loss of existing hairs due to incidental trauma of transplant surgery.
Your timeline of September to February, which is about 5 months, is a bit tight. In our practice, we usually tell our patients the expect full results after a year, and for patients who are slow growers or have more advanced hair loss, we say about 18 months. I’m not sure how satisfied you’ll be with your hair by that time, though this does not mean that you won’t see more growth as time goes on.
What we do for patients like yourself is treat them with Hair Regeneration, which is a non-surgical alternative to hair transplants we developed over the years. Hair Regeneration effectively reverses hair thinning in both men and women, and in the right candidate, can yield results that exceed two hair transplants. The treatment was initially developed with the intention of using it to improve the results of hair transplants, hair graft survival, and donor area healing.
We do have patients who come to us for this treatment during the critical time of the first 1-3 months after having a hair transplant, though I usually prefer treating them within 1-2 months to more effectively heal grafts and thicken thinning hair. We have a great deal of success with this treatment.
Ultimately, I’m not saying you should get Hair Regeneration treatment, but that it is one of your options. I suggest that you speak with your doctor about what to expect from your hair by February, so you have more realistic expectations. I think it’s important to understand that a hair transplant is not an ideal solution, but a compromise; and that the donor area, by nature, is very limited. I think communication with your doctor is very important. In the meantime, you may also look into using topical fibers to help with your February event.
I hope that was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!
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