I need a hair transplant?

You may not actually be aware of this but everybody loses hair; yes, everybody!

This also means that just because you are losing a bit of your hair, it does not necessarily mean you need a transplant. There are a few guidelines concerning who would or wouldn’t need (or qualify) for a transplant but, believe it or not, most don’t actually need it.

I’m fortunate to live next door to my best friend, John, and we’ve known each other since school days. His wife and mine are also very good friends and they are always nipping into each other’s kitchen for a coffee and a chat. Whilst they were talking last week, Carol told my wife, Jane, about John’s problem.

John’s worried because he’s losing hair and, naturally, he’s unhappy and worried about it. Jane then mentioned this to me and said how she thought it would be good if I had a quiet chat with him about it.

Jane and Carol went shopping last Saturday and I went around to see John and watch the football. We started talking and when I mentioned about the girls chat, John then opened up and told me that he was thinking about having a hair transplant.

I instantly asked whether he’d consulted with a surgeon because not everyone can have a hair transplant. He hesitated for a few moments and then said that he had been thinking about it for a while but though he’d looked on the Internet, he hadn’t done much more than that.

It was then that I told him about my transplant 9 months before. Once he’d gotten over the surprise, we talked more. Remember, I’d been through exactly the same experiences and thought processes that John was going through and had researched extensively at the time so was fortunate to be in the situation where I could offer advice to my mate.

The first thing he mentioned was about surgery and I told him why not everyone who is losing hair automatically qualifies for the surgery.

I explained that if you’ve just started losing hair, hair transplant surgery is not your only option.

Just because you’re balding doesn’t mean you’re a good candidate for the surgery. Any reputable surgeon will establish your criteria to see if you are the best candidate for hair transplant surgery: it isn’t an automatic procedure with a guaranteed success.

First of all, if you have male pattern baldness with adequate donor hair that can be supplied to the balding portions of your head, then this is just one of the requirements for a hair transplant. It also depends on the colour contrast between your skin and your hair: if there is a huge difference then this is not good from a transplant perspective. Also, if you’re very bald or you don’t have adequate hair for your balding areas then this is also going to make it difficult: you do need a really healthy area with donor hairs which the surgeon can then use to supply the balding areas.

In addition, your donor hair should have high-density concentrations and your scalp needs to be loose and flexible. The shafts of your hair need to be reasonably bulky and, always bear this in mind when thinking about a process such as this, you have to understand the process and be honest and realistic about the possible results.

I remember from one of my consultations that the surgeon explained that men and women who have unhealthy or thin donor supply are not good candidates because in their particular cases, the surgery can be unsuccessful or lead to poor results. Also, people with diseased hair, low hair density or those with a tight or inelastic scalp are ineligible.

He also explained that, unsurprisingly, in most cases it’s men over the age of 30 who take the decision to have hair transplants; they evaluate this thoroughly and weigh-up all their options. The first thing is trying to find a doctor they can trust. This is essential and for those that do, and remain open-minded about their hair loss situation and have realistic expectations of what their surgery can and cannot do prove to be the best patients all round.

For the majority of cases, this type of procedure is categorised as cosmetic surgery and, as such, is not covered by insurance: the cost alone can put many people off. I don’t think this is an issue for John and Carol but as with anything, it is essential you do your homework to avoid any unforeseen or unexpected costs at a later stage.

Prompt reaction to premature hair loss can often be treated with proper medication and this can often forestall hair transplant for some years. The main problem here though is that it is a fairly common occurrence of younger people panicking at the first sight of loss and then falling prey to unscrupulous physicians or salesmen who are just out to make easy money.

However, it is the responsibility of the physician to help patients understand the options and make the right choices, especially in terms of surgery. This doesn’t just apply for young patients though, the decision-making process should be slowed down for all patients to ensure they make the best decision that is right for them.

I asked John about whether he’d looked into the costs?