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Hair Transplantation for Early Hair Thinning: Things to Think About

Hair Transplantation for Early Hair Thinning:

It comes as a surprise to some patients who come to see me that they are not candidates for hair transplant surgery. Some patients are too young, some have hair loss diseases for which a transplant won't ever 'work,' some have too little hair (or are destined to be too bald to make a transplant a good idea).  Finally, some individuals have too much hair.

It's this last issue that I'd like to discuss today - transplanting in areas of hair loss which are undergoing thinning but not yet significantly thin. Is it a good idea to transplant hairs in this area to prevent it from ever looking thin?

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Is some cases the answer is yes, in other cases - no.  Even with the most delicate and meticulous surgery, exisiting hairs on the scalp can be damaged if the density is too high. There is a critical density below which a cosmetic improvement can be achieved.

Consider the young man (photo on the right) who came to see me for advice on getting a hair transplant. Is he a good candidate for hair transplant surgery? 

Not ideal.  A hair transplant in this man is unlikely to significantly improve density. This man would be much better off considering medical treatment with minoxidil and/or finasteride before considering hair restoration. Othe treatments could also be considered, including low light laser therapy. If these (and other) medical treatments didn't help, we could certainly discuss a hair transplant. 

At slightly reduced densities, it's possible to achieve a great cosmetic change. New hairs can be placed "between" the existing hairs in order to build a new density - without damaging any of the existing hairs.

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I'm a big believer in transplanting in the early stages of hair loss in order to prevent the appearance of hair loss. But there is a fine line between when this is a good idea, and when it's not likely to provide the patient any benefit.


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Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299



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