How Long Do Hair Transplants Last
How Long Do Hair Transplants Last?
“Hair transplants are permanent”, is the phrase that loves to be said again and again within the hair loss community. The belief is that you simply come in to have a procedure and you will stay happy for the rest of your life. It sounds great doesn’t it?
However, how accurate and true are these claims? Just how long do hair transplants last?
We could answer this question on whether hair transplants are permanent with either a yes or a no answer as it depends on a few factors. To better understand this we first need to run through some basic information in regards to hair loss and hair transplantation before we can answer this question.
How Long Do Hair Transplants Last – The Permanent Aspects
Hair transplantation surgery is the process of first extracting hairs from the back and sides of the scalp known as the donor region. A high percentage of these hairs within this region are said to be “permanent hairs” because they are resistant to the hair miniaturization effects of the hormone known as DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Once removed and dissected, these tiny pieces of skin holding 1, 2 or 3 hairs known as follicular units are then transplanted into the thinning region of the scalp. This is done with the aim to replace as many hairs as possible that have been lost. These permanent hairs are transplanted amongst hairs on top that are prone to hair loss. This means that while some hairs on top will stay the rest will fall.
How Long Do Hair Transplants Last – The Statistics
The patient must realise and understand that the end density achieved from a hair transplant whilst significantly better than before will never mirror the density it was when they were a teenager.
In the long term most hair transplant patients should expect some degree of density loss. We stated “most” because there are a small percentage of lucky patients that do not experience this and do stay happy for life.
It is also common knowledge that about half of all hair transplant patients will have a second hair transplant within the 10 years that follow their first. We do not have exact stats but know from transplanting thousands of patients that it does work out to about 1 in 2 or perhaps a little over half.
The Life Span of Hair Loss and Hair Transplant Surgery
Based on the above information it is evident that a majority of patients lose more hair in the longer term. So why is this? There are a few reasons:
- The surrounding non-transplanted hairs keep thinning
As stated above, transplanted hairs taken from the donor region are mostly permanent and the hair already on top is prone to hair loss. Over the long term if a person is suffering from androgenetic alopecia and has had a transplant, they should expect that any hairs prone to hair loss will continue to thin over time. Even if every transplanted hair survives for life, the surgery will not be deemed a permanent solution if thinning exists within surrounding regions.
- Refusal of patients to consider taking medication
Hair transplant Doctors will spend time educating patients about point 1 above and state that considering medication such as minoxidil or the prescription drug finasteride is a good idea to remain happy after surgery for many years to come. If the person transplants the front of their scalp while still having hair on the back, if they take a tablet which pauses the hair loss, doing this will maximise their chances of remaining happy 10 or 15 years later without the needing a second procedure.
- The true ratio of permanent hairs within donor region
As far as the donor hair at the back being permanent hair, this is true for a high percentage of them. Therefore some of the donor hairs do miniaturize in the same way as rest of the scalp that is prone to hair loss. However this percentage varies considerably from person to person. Some people may only lose 10% of their donor hair density over a 30 year period whilst others can lose as much as 40% or more. This figure represents the survival rate in the long term. Therefore if you lose 25% of your donor hair density you will also lose 25% of the hairs transplanted as they will mirror the donor. This is one reason why having transplants at an older age is an advantage. If you extract hair out from the back after 20% has already been lost, then there is a higher percentage of permanent hairs in what is planted.
- Where the donor hairs are extracted from
An FUSS patient will usually have a higher percentage of grafts survive over the long term compared to an FUE patient. The reason for this is because all grafts are extracted from the middle band of the donor. Hairs taken from the top third or bottom third of the donor are likely to miniaturize as a person ages. Therefore FUE which often takes many hairs from these sections will result in a higher percentage not surviving long term as less where taken from the middle of the donor region.
- Losing hair shaft diameter with age
A 70 year old person will notice that their hairs are not as thick as when they were in their 30s. So even if all the transplanted hairs are still growing on top, the result will not look as dense if each hair has half of the diameter that it used to.
How Long Do Hair Transplants Last – Summary
So because of the above five reasons, it is typically a minority can report that one transplant is all a hair loss sufferer requires to remain happy for an entire life. A large percentage of patients will be recommended medication and a second hair transplant may be considered at some point in the future.
It all depends on how much you have transplanted early in life when hair loss bothers you. If you are happy with your hair condition at 60 or 70 years of age then you may be happy with the status quo.