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What is the Hair Restoration Cost in 2015?

Hair is closely linked to our self-image, gender identity and social presentation. As a result, hair loss can trigger profound psychological distress. Luckily, medical science has worked diligently to find effective solutions for hair loss. Technological breakthroughs in this field and the availability of treatment choices have led to significant reduction of hair restoration costs.

What are the treatment options?

There is a number of readily available solutions to help you combat hair loss, depending on your gender, pattern and the extent of hair loss. And when it comes to the cost of hair transplants, this adds yet another variable, making choice a little more complex. The modern-day hair restoration arsenal includes many options, but here are the most popular:

Non-surgical treatment solutions

Currently, two effective medications are available for treatment of androgenetic alopecia, the most common type of permanent hair loss. Both medications stop the progression of hair loss and stimulate hair growth.

Propecia (finasteride) tablets are indicated for treatment of male pattern baldness. Results are visible after 3 – 6 months of continuous treatment. On discontinuation, hair loss resumes within 6 months to a year.

Propecia is available on private prescription and should be taken daily. Prices vary widely, but you can purchase a 3-month supply for under $100.

Rogaine (minoxidil) is licensed for topical treatment of androgenetic alopecia in both genders. It is the only FDA-approved medication for female pattern baldness.

Similarly to Propecia, Rogaine must be applied for at least several months in order to obtain visible results. Hair loss usually resumes a few months after stopping the treatment. The cost of a 3-month supply of Rogaine foam is roughly $50.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a painless, FDA-approved hair restoration method, suitable for both genders. Hair follicles are exposed to a low-level laser light, which stimulates cellular activity, strengthens weak hair and promotes hair retention.

The treatment is done several times a week, in 20 to 25 minute sessions, for at least 6 months. It is important to continue maintenance treatment (at least one weekly session) to sustain hair retention.

LLLT is often used in conjunction with Rogaine and Propecia. When used in combination with hair transplant procedures, it speeds up the healing process.

The treatment can be done at home using hair growth devices (prices range from under $300 to $3000, depending on the brand).

Surgical hair transplantation

Hair transplantation is the only permanent solution for men and women experiencing hair loss. When done by qualified experts, it yields excellent results.

There are several hair transplant options available. The two most commonly used are Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT Hair Transplant) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE Hair Transplant).

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)

Also known as linear strip harvesting, FUT predates the FUE. Scalp hair normally grows in tiny clusters of 1-4 hairs called follicular units (not individual strands, as previously thought).

Each unit contains nerves, blood vessels and a tiny muscle packaged in collagen, making them complete anatomic and physiologic entities. Hence, keeping them intact during the transplant process ensures their survival and growth. In FUT, hairs are transplanted as follicular units.

A small strip of hair is removed from the donor area (usually at the back of the head) and used to create grafts, which are then inserted into micro-incisions made in the hair-loss area, in a distribution pattern that mimics natural hair growth. The procedure includes hair harvesting, graft preparation, recipient site creation and graft placement.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

In FUE, individual hair grafts are harvested directly from the donor area (at the back of the scalp, chosen for its long-term stability). A circular incision is made in the skin around the follicle. It is then pulled (extracted) directly from the scalp leaving a small open hole. This process is repeated until the surgeon has harvested enough follicular units.

The 1-mm donor wounds completely heal in about a week to 10 days. The hair tissue is grafted and placed in the destination area.

The harvesting of individual follicular units directly from the scalp is what differentiates FUE from FUT, where donor hair is removed from the scalp in a thin, long strip and subsequently cut apart into individual follicular units using a stereo-microscope.

FUE is the most frequently implemented technique today. Although it is the more expensive option, it is also the most effective one. FUE requires superior surgical skills compared to other hair transplant methods.

Some of the advantages of FUE over FUT include: absence of a linear scar, minimal pain and post-surgery discomfort, rapid recovery and no limitations to physical activities after the treatment.

On the other hand, hair in FUT is harvested from a much smaller area compared to FUE, the graft quality is better and the maximum follicular yield is higher. Technological breakthroughs in instrument technology are positioning FUE as a superior method of donor hair harvesting.

FUE is the preferred option for patients wishing to avoid a linear scar, patients with little donor hair, a tendency to extreme scarring and younger patients requiring a minor treatment. Also, FUE is the method of choice for body hair transplantation and when corrective or reconstructive hair surgery is involved.

Is hair transplantation affordable?

With the advancements in the field and the larger availability of plastic surgeons specialized in hair replacement, these services have become more affordable. Also, most clinics offer various payment options.

  • Follicular unit extraction typically costs $4,000 to $15,000 for a procedure, depending on the amount of area you want to cover.
  • Follicular unit transplantation is slightly less expensive, with typical prices ranging from $4000 – $9,000.
  • Eyebrow, eyelash and facial hair transplant procedures that help restore the eyebrow and beard contours are also available for about $3500.

However, you shouldn’t base your treatment choice solely on hair restoration cost issues. Prices do matter, but so does surgical expertise. Always choose a reputable clinic with high patient frequency.

As a cosmetic procedure, hair transplantation is generally not covered by insurance. Hair restoration as part of reconstructive surgery due to severe burns, injuries and accidents can be an exception to this rule.

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Published on April 29, 2015

By Advanced Hair Restoration