Androgenetic alopecia - perhaps better known in men as Male Pattern Baldness
- is the leading cause of hair loss worldwide.
Whilst many men accept their hereditary fate, others will try various methods to keep their hair. These approaches often form trends in how men in various countries prefer to tackle hair loss
Hair transplant surgery
In the UK, hair loss treatment
appears to be the most popular option, as it is a convenient, affordable and clinically-proven way for men to prevent further shedding and promote regrowth. In America and Asian countries, however, men are more likely to choose a hair transplant, according to research by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS).
ISHRS data reveals that in 2014 approximately 397,048 hair transplant
procedures were performed worldwide. The vast majority of these operations were carried out on men's scalps. We understand these figures only relate to ISHRS members, however, so the actual figure is likely to be higher.
Further findings from its report confirm that hair restoration surgery is most popular with men in North America, with those from the Asia Pacific region following in second place. This represents a significant uptake in the USA as in 2014 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that 'Asian countries accounted for maximum hair transplants procedures as compared to other regions globally'.
Over the next few years the ISHRS expects the surgical hair restoration market in both Europe and Latin America to expand rapidly. Although, given the new technologies such as potential stem cell hair loss treatments
currently being developed to treat men with true baldness - which current treatments cannot deal with - should these be released sooner rather than later, it could heavily impact this predicted expansion.
Hair transplant surgery has come a long way since the days of 'hair plugs' which gave the distinctly unnatural appearance of dolls' hair with small bunches of hair punched into holes in the scalp. Now, far more natural results can be achieved by skilled surgeons, or even by robots
, thanks to advances in both techniques and technology.
It is even possible to achieve minimal scarring by using the popular Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
method. This involves harvesting individual hairs - known as follicular grafts - from the donor site at the back of the head where male hair loss does not have any effect. These single grafts are then painstakingly transferred to the thinning, or 'recipient' areas by a surgeon.
The FUT - Follicular Unit Transplantation
- technique can also be used to remove donor hair, however, as this requires a strip of scalp to be removed from the donor area, scarring is more likely.
Which is best - a hair transplant or hair loss treatment?
Many men like the idea of a 'quick fix' for their hair loss and minimally invasive surgery can sound like a good idea. In some cases, where there is substantial advanced balding, it can be a great option as pharmaceutical treatments will not work if the follicles are dead. It is not thought to be a great option for men under 30
years of age - something top hair restoration specialist Dr. Bessam Farjo
has been keen to point out.
What can come as a shock to men researching getting a hair transplant, is that it recommended they follow a male hair loss treatment
course for at least six months prior to the operation. This can clear the area of shed hairs and promote maximum regrowth, making the area easier for the surgeon to work with. In turn, that can help to produce better results.
In addition to following a course comprising one or both of the only MHRA licensed and FDA approved medications before surgery, it is also important to continue this treatment on an on-going basis afterwards to preserve the results and stop hair from thinning around the new grafts. As the ISHRS information states, 'post-surgery care is significant in hair transplants'.
The report also cites the often prohibitive price of restoration procedures as well as the general 'economic slowdown' for hair transplants not being more popular. Whilst a comprehensive non-invasive hair loss treatment plan can cost in the range of £600 to £2,000 per year, a hair transplant can cost between $8 to $10 per individual hair graft in the USA and from around £6,000+ per operation in the UK. This is on top of treatment prices and more than one hair transplant may be necessary to achieve the desired results - though generally a surgeon will not perform more than three procedures on one patient, especially if their donor hair is not sufficient. TV personality, Calum Best
noted recently that his third operation to fill in his receding hairline
would be his last.
Dealing with hair loss is an incredibly personal matter and it is sensible to explore the best methods before deciding how to proceed. A hair loss specialist
can assess your pattern and level of shedding and discuss the most appropriate care for your specific situation, ensuring you have all the information needed to make an informed decision.