How Does a Hair Transplant Work?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
19th October 2021

In 30 seconds…

How does a hair transplant work? Hair transplants involve extracting healthy hair follicles (or groups of follicles) from one area of the scalp and implanting them into an area where hair no longer grows.

Typically, this happens in one of two ways. Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) works by transplanting strips of scalp skin which include multiple follicles. Follicular unit extraction (FUE), meanwhile, involves transplanting individual follicles. For smaller areas affected by male pattern baldness, FUE can provide better results.

When you book a hair transplant with Manual, you’ll be guided through the whole process by experts. They’ll take you through everything you need to know – including the best options for you in the long term and any aftercare you’re likely to need.

What is a Hair Transplant?

Male pattern baldness (MPB), which causes 95% of hair loss cases in men, can be tough. But there’s good news. There are now so many options you can choose from to treat the condition. And an increasingly popular one is the hair transplant.

Hair transplants involve taking hair follicles from one area of the scalp (or sometimes another part of the body) and inserting them into the area affected by MPB. Results can be incredible – and it might not even be as expensive as you fear. 

Here, we’re taking you through all you need to know about how hair transplants work. 

How Does a Hair Transplant Work? The Basics

Hair transplants work thanks to a simple but pretty amazing scientific phenomenon. If you remove hair follicles from one area of the scalp and insert them into another, they keep growing.

There are two main ways that surgeons can make this happen. They are known as follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).

  • Follicular unit transplantation (or follicular unit strip surgery). FUT works by removing a strip of skin from a donor area that contains many hair follicles. That’s usually from the back of the head, where growth is stronger and any scarring less visible. This strip is then cut into pieces containing just one or two follicles and inserted into the balding area of the scalp.
  • Follicular unit extraction (or excision) works by removing follicles one by one and inserting them individually into the recipient area. This requires a little more skill and experience from the doctor, but it is less likely to produce evident scarring. However, it can take a little more time – and is often more expensive.

While FUE is more precise, both options can provide excellent results. And depending on your circumstances, it might be that FUT is more appropriate for you.

Do Hair Transplants Work?

This brings us to the most pressing question for men considering a hair transplant: do they work? The simple answer is yes. Hair transplants can provide you with a head of hair that you can be proud of. In one study into patient satisfaction, for example, men gave their results an average score of 8.3 out of 10.

However, hair transplants aren’t always suitable for every single patient. There are some important things to be aware of:

  • Hair transplants likely won’t stop further hair loss. MPB is a progressive condition, meaning it can get worse, even after a transplant. But medicines like Finasteride or Minoxidil – which tackle the processes that cause MPB – can help maintain the results of your procedure.
  • The success of a hair transplant depends on the severity of hair loss. Transplants require healthy follicles to be moved from one area to another. If MPB has progressed too far, you may not have healthy follicles on your scalp, and so a transplant might not be possible.

At Manual, we can help you decide if a hair transplant is right for you – or if another hair loss treatment could be a better option. Get in touch to book a consultation.

Your Hair Transplant Journey: How It Works

We’ve looked at the procedure itself. Yet, there’s a lot more to your experience of a hair transplant than just surgery. As such, it’s good to know exactly how the hair transplant process will work before you make your decision.

Here are the main steps you can expect.

1. Finding a Clinic 

Your hair transplant journey starts with finding the right clinic. With so many different options out there, in the UK and further afield, it can be tough to find the one that’s right for you. Looking for proof of quality such as the following can help you find a clinic you can trust:

  • Membership of associations, like the General Medical Council or the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery, can show that doctors are qualified and accredited.
  • Before and after pictures from previous surgeries show the results you can expect.
  • Positive testimonials from previous clients will show other men have trusted their services before.

At Manual, we can help you with this. We’ve teamed up with some of the most respected clinics around and can provide proof of quality from the outset.

2. Attending a Consultation 

Before the surgery itself, you’ll have a consultation with your surgeon. 

Transplants differ dramatically in terms of the right procedure, the number of grafts needed, the timescale, and expectations for the future. You’ll talk through all of this with your surgeon. And, while you’re there, you might want to ask them about their success rates, timelines, and any aftercare you might need.

3. The Hair Transplantation Procedure

Now you’ve agreed on the right path for you, it’s time for the procedure itself. This happens in several stages:

  • Preparation. Either on the day of the surgery or in a previous appointment, you’ll have your head shaved and your new hairline drawn onto your scalp. This will help your doctor during the procedure.
  • Extraction. You’ll likely be put under local anaesthetic during the surgery. Then, hair grafts or individual follicles will be removed from the back of your head. If you’re having FUT, doctors will then seal the grafted area with stitches.
  • Implantation. This part of the surgery takes the longest, as your follicles will be reinserted into your new hairline. It could take the rest of the day – and in rare cases, it takes a little longer.

4. Aftercare

After your hair transplant surgery, you’ll likely be able to go home immediately. But the process doesn’t finish there. You’ll probably take a bit of time off work in the first week and be prescribed painkillers and antibiotics to help your scalp heal.

Over the next six months, your clinic will support you with aftercare options, including specialist shampoos and lotions. You might also notice that the transplanted hair falls out. This is a normal side effect – but it will grow back. Usually, by the six-month mark, you’ll see new hair growth.

Find out more: What are the Side Effects of a Hair Transplant?

5. Finally, Results

Ultimately, you’ll see your results: a full new head of hair. This is what the whole journey’s been for! And with healthy growth flourishing, your clinic will likely leave you to continue your journey by yourself.

At Manual, though, we’ll pick up the reins. If you book your surgery through us, we’ll be there to advise on the best products to help you maintain your hairline – such as Finasteride and Minoxidil – well into the future.

Key Takeaways

How does a hair transplant work? Once you’ve found the right clinic, you and your doctor will decide which procedure is best. Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE) are by far the most popular options.

But the journey doesn’t stop there. You’ll be provided with effective aftercare and support in the future. 

Get in touch with us to find out whether a hair transplant is right for you. At Manual, we can help you find the right clinic and support you through the whole journey.

References

  1. Marc R. Avram, Nicole Rogers, and Shannon Watkins – Side-effects from follicular unit extraction in hair transplantation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4271303/

  2. Sanusi Umar – Body Hair Transplant by Follicular Unit Extraction: My Experience With 122 Patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5070467/

  3. https://www.bahrs.co.uk/

  4. Patrick M. Zito, Blake S. Raggio – Hair Transplantation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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