Choosing to undergo a hair transplant is a big decision. However, a professionally performed hair transplant surgery is expected to last a lifetime. This is because transplanted hair follicles retain the genetic characteristics that make them resistant to hair loss, regardless of where they’re transplanted to.
Unsurprisingly though, it’s common for patients to ask how successful the procedure is, how permanent it is, and what it can realistically achieve. In fact, one of the most common questions asked by patients is, “how long does a hair transplant last?”
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to provide one, definitive answer to this. Permanence is not guaranteed for everyone who gets a hair transplant, as it can vary based on a number of individual factors. That’s why we’ve created this dedicated post, in which we’ve aimed to answer this commonly asked question and looked into the different factors that can have an effect on how long a hair transplant lasts.
Hair Transplant Surgery: A Quick Recap
Before answering the question “how long does a hair transplant last”, it’s important to first recap on exactly what this type of plastic surgery is and how it works. In short, a hair transplant is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves the transplantation of hair follicles from one part of the body — known as the donor area — to another, known as the recipient area.
There are a few different methods used for hair transplantation surgery. The most common technique however, is follicular unit extraction (FUE). This involves harvesting follicular units — also known as grafts — which can contain several hair follicles, one by one. ‘Channels’ — essentially small incisions — are then created in the bald or thinning area, ready for the implantation stage. These channels are traditionally created using a small steel blade, however, new methods have also been developed using sapphire blades. The follicular units are then implanted into the channels to create natural-looking results. The specific method that you choose will be dependent on your type of hair loss, the amount of hair in your donor area, as well as other individual factors. This is something that you will discuss with your doctor when planning your treatment.
How Long Does a Hair Transplant Last?
As previously mentioned, a hair transplant that’s carried out by a qualified professional should last a lifetime. The main reasons behind this relate to the genetic nature of hair follicles. It’s the hair follicles themselves, not the scalp, that have the genetic predispositions related to hair loss and balding. Therefore, during a hair transplant, hair follicles are taken from areas which aren’t thinning or balding, as they’re still healthy and haven’t been affected by hair loss. Once these healthy follicles have been transplanted to the bald or thinning area, they retain their resistance to hair loss. Regardless of where the healthy follicles are placed, they will retain their original characteristics. Typically, these follicles will remain healthy and therefore further hair loss usually doesn’t occur.
Following your hair transplantation surgery, don’t despair if you’re not seeing as much growth as you’d like. Typically, 10% of the transplanted hair should grow back after around three months, with full growth showing between 10-12 months after treatment. However, in some cases, it may take up to 18 months for the final results to appear.
As well as this, the phenomenon known as the ‘shedding phase’ is a common occurrence following a hair transplant surgery. Shedding usually occurs around 2-8 weeks after your transplant and often results in up to 90% of your transplanted hair falling out. The presence of shedding doesn’t mean that your transplant wasn’t a success or that it won’t last a lifetime though. This phenomenon is simply a natural, transient reaction to the surgery and hair will gradually recover and grow back in the following weeks.
Factors Affecting Permanence
While it’s clear that there are scientific and genetic reasons behind long-lasting hair transplants, it is also important to acknowledge that this may not be the case for everyone. Therefore, when considering the question of “how long does a hair transplant last”, there are certain factors to mention that can have an effect on the permanence of a hair transplant. We’ve outlined these in more detail below.
1. Choosing a High-Quality Doctor and Clinic
While hair transplantation techniques have progressed significantly in recent years, they still need to be performed by highly-trained specialists. This is one of the most important factors that can affect the permanence of a hair transplant. Undergoing surgery with an inexperienced, under-qualified doctor or technician — or at a clinic with inadequate facilities — not only has the potential to produce bad results but it can also negatively affect the longevity of your newly transplanted hair.
That’s why, at Qunomedical, we employ a strict and thorough vetting process for both clinics and doctors. Our proprietary scoring system, Qunoscore, takes 21 unique data points into account, assessing doctors and technicians based on important factors such as their qualifications, experience, accreditations, and reviews from past patients. This ensures that you’re treated by a high-quality specialist who has the ability to carry out a hair transplant surgery that’s long-lasting and permanent.
While the longevity of the transplanted hairs should remain unchanged with age, what could change is the longevity of the ‘look’ achieved from the first transplant. Even though the transplanted hair follicles may retain resistance to hair loss and thinning, any natural hair left in the transplanted area will still be susceptible to thinning over time. As well as this, the rate at which new hair is produced may also slow down as you get older, however, the transplanted hair follicles should still continue to produce new hair throughout their lifetime.
3. Post-Op Care
Following the right steps after surgery is extremely important and can play a role in the longevity of your newly transplanted hair. Post-op hair transplant care is relatively straightforward and your doctor will provide you with all of the important information and steps to follow. However, understanding the various stages of the post-op journey, and what steps to take at each stage, is really important as doing the wrong things or using the wrong products can permanently damage your newly transplanted hair.
Other Factors to Bear in Mind
While a high-quality doctor, the right post-op care, and ageing are three of the main factors that can have an effect on the permanence of a hair transplant, there are a couple of other important points to consider when planning your treatment. However, while these won’t necessarily affect how long your hair transplant lasts, they are important to think about when considering your expectations from the procedure.
1. Donor Area Density
Donor hair density is measured in follicular units per cm2. Density can range from around 50-100 FUcm2, with the average being somewhere in the middle at about 75 FUcm2. If your donor hair falls on the slightly lower end of the density scale, then it’s likely that you’ll have less follicular units available for transplantation. In these cases, it’s common to undergo a second hair transplant surgery, once the donor area has healed. This is not necessarily because the first transplant didn’t last long, rather it can be done to add more density or coverage to the bald or thinning areas. However, before being able to undergo a second transplant, you’ll need to allow time for your donor area to heal.
2. Donor Area Size
The size of the donor area varies from patient to patient. Those with a larger donor area will have more follicles available for extraction and transplantation and will therefore be able to cover a larger proportion of their bald or thinning area. For those with slightly smaller donor areas, a hair transplant might not cover the entire balding area and therefore, expectations should be adjusted when considering the realistic coverage that the procedure can achieve.
How Do I Get Started?
Ready to get started with your hair transplant journey? Still have more questions about how long a hair transplant lasts? Contact us now and one of our Patient Managers will be happy to help. Whether you’re just looking for some extra information, or are ready to book a treatment, we offer a 100% free, non-binding assessment. Your Patient Manager will work together with you, providing treatment options based on criteria that matter to you. Let’s find the right doctor together.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatments.