The total cost of a hair transplant will depend on a variety of factors, but the national average hair transplant cost in United States is about $13,000.00. As far as plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery prices go, it one of the most expensive procedures around, even more expensive than a tummy tuck.
Gone are the days (thank goodness) when hair restoration techniques made your scalp look like it was full of small plugs and gave you an odd, unnatural looking hairline. There was no way you could ever wear you hair cut too close to your head or you would run the risk of embarrassment. Today you can have a natural-looking head of hair and your barber or hairdresser may not even notice!
If you suffer from alopecia (hair loss), you are not alone. Millions of men and women experience hair loss as a result of hair pulling, wearing tight ponytails and braids, damaging hair with hot irons and relaxers, or just plain old genetics. Most men start to lose hair at the temples; women more commonly lose hair across the top of their heads or along the part in the hair. In fact, for most of us, the hair at the back and sides of our heads is actually resistant to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that experts believe is the main cause of hair loss.
When we think of hair loss or baldness, we typically think of men. However, hair thinning and hair loss is equally common in women, particularly around the age of menopause. And hair loss can often be a bigger struggle for women. Some people find bald men sexy! But society often judges a woman’s beauty by her thick, luxurious head of hair.
Hair transplantation can be a great solution. It’s the process of moving hairs from one part of your head to the parts of your head that are thinning or balding. Since you’re using your own hair and skin tissue, your body won’t reject the grafts. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, doctors transplanted large grafts (called “plugs”) that contained anywhere from 10 to 25 hairs. There was no way anyone looking at your scalp could miss these “plugs”. The process of micro-grafting a few decades later was a huge improvement. But today’s transplant procedures are so good (if properly done) that the chances are good that no one will ever know you had it done.
Don’t be discouraged because you think it’s too expensive. If you ever thought about restoring your natural hairline and achieving a thicker, fuller head of hair, you are in luck. Technology advancements have made wonderful improvements in hair replacement techniques and dramatically reduced the cost of hair grafts. Not too many years ago it could cost $15 per graft. Today, hair grafts are typically between $3.00 and $8.00 each.
Obviously there are several factors that will affect the cost, such as how much hair loss you have, how many grafts you may need transplanted, the type of procedure you choose, and possibly who you select to perform the transplant, but the costs for a treatment program will usually range between $4,000 and $20,000.
Hair transplantation also offers a lifelong solution, so compare these costs to the prices you pay year after year for prescription drugs like Rogaine or Propecia, hair weaves, potions that claim they’ll make your hair grow, or wigs and hairpieces (“hair replacement systems”). If, for example, you wear a high-quality hair piece, it will have to be groomed, maintained and replaced periodically. If this costs you $500 per year in upkeep, added to the cost of the hairpiece, you can expect to spend nearly $10,000 to $12,000 over a period of 15 to 20 years. This may end up being more expensive than a hair transplant!
Hair Transplantation Techniques and Costs
When you research hair transplantation, keep in mind that the three most common techniques today are Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), and Ultra-Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation. You may also see doctors still offering Mini or Micro Graft Transplantation (the old “plug” method), but this hair transplant method is becoming less common.
First of all, we need to understand that the hairs on our scalp grow in little bundles called follicular units. Each one of these little bundles could have one, two, three or four hairs each, and includes skin tissue.
Let’s explore the various costs and factors to help you consider if hair transplantation will be worth your investment!
Follicular Unit Transplantation or Grafting (FUT or FUG)
The Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) has been considered the gold standard for more than a decade and is still the most common method of hair transplantation. Under local anesthetic, the surgeon will remove a single narrow strip of skin tissue at the back or side of your scalp where healthy hair is still growing. Once complete, he/she will stitch closed the area and then, using high-powered microscopes and a tiny scalpel, will dissect this strip into individual follicular units, called “grafts”, one at a time. Several thousand grafts can come from this narrow strip of scalp. The grafts are then implanted into tiny incisions in the balding or thinning area of your scalp and the results can be excellent, creating a very natural appearance.
Obviously, FUT will leave a scar where the strip was removed. But this should heal up nicely and you should still be able to wear your hair very short without the scar being noticeable. FUT results in the highest yield of good grafts, the lowest rate of damage to the follicular unit, takes less time than other methods because more grafts can be obtained from the strip in a single session, and it is less expensive than other methods.
What factor affect cost?
Harvesting of 1,000 to 2,000 follicular units should be able to be done in a 4 to 5 hour session. For the person with average hair loss, this means you may be able to complete your hair transplant in a single day. Expect prices averaging from $3.00 to $6 per unit, or a price range of $3,000 to $12,000 for 1,000 to 2,000 grafts using Follicular Unit Transplantation.
Ultra-Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation (URFUT)
Ultra Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation is very similar to FUT but this method uses higher quality, high-powered microscopes and tinier scalpels to dissect the scalp tissue into more follicular units than is possible with standard FUT. The incisions are smaller too, so you may achieve a fuller, more natural look to your hair with virtually invisible scars.
What factors affect the cost?
- URFUT is more time-consuming, tedious and demanding for the doctor.
- URFUT requires precise training for the surgeon.
- URFUT requires expensive microscopes.
Expect prices averaging from $4.50 to $8 per unit, or a price range of $4,500 to $16,000 for 1,000 to 2,000 grafts using Ultra-Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE or FUM)
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), also known as Direct Follicular Unit Micro-extraction (FUM), is a good alternative to the FUT “strip” method and has grown in popularity. Instead of removing a strip of donor scalp, the surgeon uses a round, punch-like tool to make tiny circular incisions into your scalp in the areas with good hair growth. Then he/she will carefully remove each individual follicular unit from each individual circle. As with FUT, the tiny grafts are then implanted into the balding or thinning area of your scalp.
There is no long incision needed (no strip of scalp is removed), but the punch tool does penetrate your skin, so you may still have scars, but a lot of tiny ones that look like dots which should heal up within a few weeks. There are downsides: the hair re-growth percentage is lower than FUE, and damage to the graft is more probable because the doctor cannot see the graft he is removing. Most women and patients with gray hair apparently do not make good candidates for FUE.
What factors affect the cost?
- Less hair can be harvested in one session (about 500 to 700 follicular units per 4-5 hour session). If you have severe hair loss, for example, you may need somewhere between 3,000 and 9,000 grafts.
- The entire procedure takes longer than FUT.
- You will have to undergo multiple sessions.
FUE is about twice the price of FUT, or an average of $6 to $10 per graft. So expect multiple sessions and prices averaging from $6,000 to $20,000 for 1,000 to 2,000 grafts using Follicular Unit Extraction.
Mini/Micro Graft Hair Transplantation
Similar to FUT, a strip of tissue is removed and dissected, but usually in larger grafts (containing 6 to 12 hairs). Micro grafts (containing 1 or 2 hairs) are usually placed at the hairline to look more natural and the larger grafts are placed in the center part of the scalp to add thickness. No high-powered microscopes are used, so the size of the grafts depends on the desire of the surgeon. This is essentially the same technique we used to refer to as hair “plugs”. It offers less desirable results and is not commonly done today. But some clinics continue to offer the procedure because it’s quicker and cheaper.
Expect prices to average about $3.50 per graft or from $3,500 to $7,000 for 1,000 to 2,000 grafts using Mini/ Micro Graft Hair Transplantation.
Other Factors That Affect Hair Transplant Costs
How good is the surgeon and where is he located?
Not every surgeon is a capable surgeon. Some use the older, less effective methods of hair transplantation because they are not trained or experienced in the modern FUT and FUE techniques. Hair transplantation is also an art. Ask to see photos of the work the doctor has done or talk with a former patient to be sure the doctor has a good eye for completely natural-looking and age-appropriate hair. You don’t want your hair to look fake or like rows on a toothbrush.
The amount of money you will be spending should get you the best surgeon with the most expertise. Research your options carefully and get more than one opinion before you make a decision. Once your donor hairs or follicular units are removed, you won’t get them back, so you want to be happy with your results.
There’s a lot of competition out there in the hair transplantation field. Compare, compare, compare. Some doctors will discount the price per graft if you need thousands of them. Some will charge by the “session” instead of by the graft. Be sure you understand the difference. The least expensive choice is not always the worst choice, and the most expensive is not always best.
In areas with high overhead costs, like New York City or Los Angeles, you may find higher prices than in a smaller city. You may also find some clinics offering generous travel allowances to cut down on your expenses if you don’t mind traveling.
Are your expectations reasonable?
After reading all of this, do you have a better understanding of how little hair actually grows from 1,000 grafts? Keep in mind that the number of grafts does not equal the number of hairs, and some of the grafts may not survive. Understand how many hairs you ultimately need and how many sessions it may take to get that full head of hair you’re looking for.
If you have severe hair loss, you may have only enough healthy donor hair to make an average improvement. But that may be acceptable for you. Just remember that follicles used for transplantation won’t be growing back. It is also important to realize you will naturally continue to lose hair.
Your doctor may expect you to take some vitamins, use special products on your hair, or take a hair-stimulating drug after your hair transplant. You may also have to pay for blood tests or facility fees, so make sure to ask ahead of time if there will be any unexpected costs. If you intend to travel to a great transplant surgeon, you will incur expenses for your mode of transportation, food and accommodations. Don’t forget to factor these costs into your total expense.
If you are serious about getting a hair transplant, don’t let the price be the only factor you consider. Many doctors and clinics will allow you to finance the procedure to make it more affordable. Your hair transplant procedure should last a lifetime, not just for a few years, so why not spend it with a fuller head of hair?