Hair loss is a problem faced by both men and women, and every thousandth inhabitant of our planet suffers from complete baldness. For many people, hair loss becomes a real tragedy because a lot depends on how we look in the modern world: our career, relationships, personal life, and self-esteem. Fortunately, nowadays, we can observe an increasing number of hair regrowth cases. However, complete hair restoration is possible only if the patient starts to solve the problem on time and approaches this issue competently. And with the return of hair, not only our look but also the quality of our life changes. Modern science and medicine offer various methods of dealing with alopecia, which can be conditionally divided into two groups - non-surgical (treatment) and surgical (transplant). In this blog, we will discuss the pros and cons of these methods and conclude which one to choose.
If you want to find out which option is better for you, treatment or transplant, then you can use this simple formula. If the hair follicle still produces at least some hair, even if it is thin and barely noticeable, then it is alive and capable of reproduction. In this case, the treatment usually gives noticeable results. If the follicle no longer produces any hair, and the scalp area has long become hair-free and smooth, then only transplantation will help to regrow your hair.
Note that the presence on the scalp of the so-called "asleep follicles" that "wake up" from the use of some "miracle remedies" is a myth and only an advertising move of unscrupulous cosmetic brands. "Sleep follicles" do not exist. The hair follicle is either alive and capable of producing hair, or has already died and cannot be reanimated.
It should also be noted that the results of treatment in men and women are clinically very different. Women respond much better than men to medical procedures, and hair restoration is possible even with a severe degree of alopecia. Treatment in men, as a rule, is aimed at inhibiting the process of hair loss, because complete restoration, for example, of the hairline in the frontotemporal lobe, is impossible without surgery.
Transplantation is the process of transplanting hair follicles from donor areas full of hair to the bald areas of the scalp. Nowadays, hair transplantation is a widespread, well-established, and highly effective hair restoration procedure when other methods no longer work.
The International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) officially recognizes two methods of hair transplant - FUE harvesting (Follicular Unit Extraction) and traditional FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation).
The seamless method FUE represents microsurgical manipulations for the extraction of follicular units, obtaining grafts from them and their implantation without incisions and sutures. Hair groups (follicles) of 1-3 hairs are individually taken from the patient's occipital region or from other parts of the body. The operation is painless and takes only one day. There are two techniques of the seamless method - manual and mechanical.
The traditional FUT method is associated with obtaining a donor material from a skin fragment taken from the back of the head, from which grafts are then formed. After the operation, a subtle threadlike scar remains on the area it has been taken from.
According to ISHRS statistics, both techniques have an approximately equal number of adherents and opponents who find pros and cons in each of them.
FUE adherents say that the operation is less traumatic, which almost does not leave a scar on the skin in the donor area. Patients recover quickly. Moreover, this method allows receiving grafts not only from the occipital area but also from other parts of the body - the chin, chest, legs. However, the seamless method cannot be used for large areas of baldness, when more than 2500 grafts need to be transplanted. And the hours-long operation (up to 8 hours) is not suitable for everyone.
The advantages of FUT are the operation time (3-4 hours, not 8-10), a technically simple way to isolate grafts from a donor skin flap, a low (less than 3%) probability of incisions, and damage to follicles, and a low cost of surgical procedures. This method has undeniable advantages in case of higher levels of baldness. Without reducing the density of hair in the occipital donor area, the FUT method allows transplanting up to 12,000 hair follicles (approximately 5,000 grafts) in 5-6 hours. Also, hair transplantation is ideal for women because it does not require shaving the occipital zone.
This can be decided by a trichologist only, who determines the most appropriate method in each individual case for every single patient. Modern technologies allow doctors not only to eliminate bald patches of almost any size, but also to thicken a beard, mustache, and even eyebrows. Moreover, the density of the hairline can be restored up to 85%.
A frequently asked question by patients is whether hair will fall out again after transplantation? One of the most common causes of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. Briefly, this means that the receptors of hair cells are highly sensitive to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (you can read the detailed information in our article - Hair loss causes in men and women).
But, as a rule, sensitivity is observed only in certain areas, from which they fall out. Donor grafts for transplantation are taken from the areas where the hair is still preserved, and, therefore, their receptors are less sensitive to DHT.
According to the statistics, the transplant lasts for several years (5-6), then the hair again becomes sensitive to the presence of DHT and begins to thin and fall out. So you have a choice, treat hair loss with appropriate medications or transplant hair every 5-6 years.
Hair transplantation is contraindicated in case of these conditions: diabetes mellitus, arterial hypotension, oncological diseases, some diseases of the scalp, specific mental disorders. Also, transplantation is not recommended for patients under 17 years of age, when the hormonal background is not stable yet, and after 70, when the recovery processes in the body slow down, and the survival of the grafts cannot be guaranteed.
Hair treatment involves the use of medications that act directly on the hair follicles. Everything that is applied to the scalp - shampoos, balms, oils, masks - are not medical, but care products. Therefore, do not believe the promises that oils or mask can stop hair loss and restore its density. Hair growth comes from the follicle, and, therefore, the therapy is needed for it.
We have an article about the top 5 methods to treat hair loss in men. You will find all the necessary information you need to stop hair loss.
Generally speaking, hair loss treatment procedures both in men and women include:
The best results could be achieved when several procedures are combined at once. One of the common mistakes is that a patient uses only one method. This can help when there is no problem with hair loss at all, but the goal is simply to improve their condition. In all other situations, as the long-term practice of experienced trichologists shows, only one method will not be enough. For example, you can achieve the best results using these 5 methods: Minoxidil, Finasteride, vitamins, mesotherapy, and ketoconazole shampoo.
In any case, only complex therapy gives a good result, and you have to be prepared for the fact that the treatment is likely to last long. You should understand that in some cases, hair loss treatment can last forever until you decide to cease it and get used to baldness.
However, the final result is worthy of such an effort and discipline in therapy. You get restored volume, beautiful and healthy hair. After all, the combination of treatments solves two problems at once: it increases the density of the hair and improves its condition.
The answer is simple: If your baldness is higher than Norwood 3, no medication can restore your hair. In this case, you need surgery, and only after it, the treatment procedures. Otherwise, you will have to transplant hair every 5-6 years.
On the other hand, if your baldness does not exceed Norwood 3, don't hesitate and start treatment immediately. Take a look at our articles about hair regrowth methods and choose the options that suit you the most.