A receding hairline can take decades to complete its follicular evisceration of the scalp. For men, the process can begin at any time after puberty. By the time most men hit the age of 40, their hairline is in retreat. For those of us who aren’t so lucky, it happens much faster. Some men have experienced significant hair loss over a short, brutal course of just two years while still in their 20s. The main cause of male pattern baldness is genetics. Some men choose to own it by shaving the head completely and growing out a beard. Others, however, set sights on more scientific solutions by opting for a hair transplant. If one of these others happens to be you, please feel free to read on for more information on possibly getting a hair transplant for a receding hairline.
Hair Transplant Process and Cost
A hair transplant involves moving hair from a part of your body where it’s still growing and placing it in a balding area. The first successful procedure took place in New York City, in the early 1950s. Back then, men walked out of the clinic with hair that looked like a doll’s—not exactly what they might have been going for, but for them, it was better than the alternative. Today the procedure is far more advanced; indeed, in most cases, the patient can achieve a thick, full head of great-looking hair in just over 12 months.
There are two main methods used for hair transplants: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). FUT was developed in 1994 to combat cicatricial alopecia, which is a medical term that covers a wide range of disorders that cause follicle destruction, including pattern baldness. FUE is a little older. It was first practiced in 1988 by Japanese doctor Masumi Inaba, who used a 1MM needle to extract hair follicles.
FUT (sometimes referred to as FUSS—Follicular Unit Strip Surgery) is accomplished by removing a small portion of the scalp from the back of the head. The doctor will inject the area with a numbing agent before he/she begins. The size of the strip is normally 6 to 10 inches long. Once it’s removed, your wound is immediately sewn shut, and hair in the surrounding area conceals the stitches. The strip is then divided into hundreds of small grafts that get attached to the balding area of the scalp.
For the FUE option, the doctor will shave the back of your head, then remove each follicle for transplant one strand at a time, leaving behind empty—and temporary—dots that are covered up by existing hair in the area.
Each visit for a transplant procedure takes from 4 to 8 hours. For hairlines that have just begun to recede, patients may count on the time is shorter. As for cost, hair transplants normally run from $4,000 to $15,000, depending on how much hair needs to be moved, and how many visits are required. The procedure is not covered by most insurance plans.
It’s very normal to experience pain after the surgery, especially during the first week. Some doctors will recommend paracetamol while steering you away from blood-thinning medications like ibuprofen and aspirin. In rarer cases, the treated area may become infected. This is called folliculitis and is easily corrected with antibiotics. The antibiotics will rarely be oral but in cream or gel form. Oral medication won’t typically be recommended unless the infection is severe, or recurring. In any case, your doctor will likely advise a 5 day hiatus from work to allow for proper healing. He or she may also consider prescribing minoxidil to increase hair growth, though the effects of this drug rarely rise above the ambiguous.
About one month after the procedure, you’ll notice that the transplanted hair has begun to fall out. Again, this is perfectly normal, and actually signifies the beginning of new hair growth. Over the next 9 months, this new hair growth will become significant. You will really see the changes taking place. For most hair transplant patients, a full recovery with final results takes about 13 months.
If you’ve noticed your hairline beginning to recede and don’t much care for the idea of giving in to fate, there’s no cause for despair. Today’s hair transplant procedures are safe, affordable, and completely effective. Science continues to discover new, exciting methods to counter the follicular aging process. Through transplantation, we can dodge the cruelties—or at least one—of time.