Do Hair Transplants Really Grow? – How Hair Transplantation Works and Results From Transplantation

Many people ask if hair transplantation actually works, and the answer is yes. Hair restoration or transplantation works by the theory of donor dominance. When hairs are removed from an area of relatively greater density, with better hair caliber, they retain these genetic characteristics even after being moved to areas of low or no density.

Most patients that suffer from male or female pattern hair loss do very well with hair transplant surgery. That being said, persons with inflammatory causes of hair loss, such as alopecia areata, or cicatricial (scarring alopecia) may not do as well. In these cases, the donor grafts may grow initially in the short run but have been seen to fall out in the long run. Patients who undergo hair surgery for these two conditions (alopecia areata or cicatricial) should understand the possibility of poor or no growth.

Immediately after hair transplant surgery, hair enters a resting phase due to the shock of being moved from one place to the other. The hairs usually shed over 2-6 weeks after surgery, and gradually grow in starting around 3-6 months after surgery. Most patients can expect their full results by 12-18 months after their procedure.

The newly transplanted hairs can grow as long as they are genetically programmed to grow, which for the majority of the hairs in the back of the head, is a lifetime. Each growth cycle generally lasts for 3-7 years, after which time it is replaced by another hair that grows similarly long. However, a minority of the hairs can miniaturize, just like the hairs on the top of the head. These hairs may not grow as well or for as long. For the most part, there are no limits to growth and the vast majority of patients who undergo hair transplant surgery will be able to enjoy the results for a lifetime.

Following surgery no maintenance is required once the hairs enter an active growing (anagen) phase. Some patients may see non-transplanted hairs in the surrounding areas continue to thin however. For this reason, most hair surgeons recommend using medical therapy such as topical minoxidil or oral finasteride, in conjunction with hair surgery, to retain their existing hairs. We explain that without adjunctive medical therapy, patients may ultimately require additional surgery later on.

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