Factors Affecting Hair Transplant Cost:
1. The Type of Procedure Chosen
• FUE: FUE is a minimally invasive procedure that involves a hair transplant surgeon removing follicular units one by one from the patients’ donor site with a small punch between the sizes of 0.7 and 1mm in circumference.
Visible signs of hair loss occur once 50% of the natural density has been lost. This formula can also be applied to the donor supply (back and sides of the scalp) of a patient.
Most individuals are born with approximately 100,000 hairs on their head. This means a typical Norwood 6 patient would have approximately 25,000 hairs in their safe donor zone (area safe from the effects of DHT). The majority of individuals have about 2 hairs per graft, so if we do some simple division 25,000 hairs break down to 12,500 grafts.
Now since we know hair loss does not become visible until 50% of density has been lost, most patients would be able to transplant 6,250 grafts via Follicular Unit Excision (FUE). Now it's important to remember these numbers are not set in stone and will vary from person to person. Some may have more grafts available and some may have less.
But how does this relate to hair transplant cost? The bottom line is, FUE is more expensive and typically costs between $6 dollars and $10 a graft.
• FUSS or Strip Surgery: FUSS or Strip Surgery is performed by removing a strip of donor tissue from the back and sides of the scalp which are genetically resistant to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Strip surgery relies on the elasticity of a patient’s scalp, because every time a strip of donor tissue is removed, the patients' scalp becomes tighter and loses elasticity.
Thus, reducing the number of surgeries a patient could have without severely compromising the scalp. The term "stripped out" refers to the patients’ scalp which can no longer withstand any further donor tissue removal. The amount of hair transplant procedures an individual can have depends on the elasticity of their scalp. Some individuals can have up to four hair transplant procedures and others may only be able to have two.
Strip surgery is less expensive than FUE and can range anywhere from $2.50 to $5 per graft on average. It is also still considered more consistent than FUE in terms of growth because technicians are visibly cutting the grafts outside of the scalp whereas with FUE, they are blindly being extracted and the surgeon must rely on feel.
2. Number of Grafts
The number of grafts an individual need will vary because each person has a unique size and shaped head. Additionally, the donor hair characteristics of each individual are different. In fact, people with thick, curly coarse hair will require fewer grafts to achieve a dense appearance than an individual with fine, straight hair. However, for the sake of generalizing, most individuals require anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 grafts in the crown alone to restore density.
Therefore, to restore the hairline and mid-section of the scalp, an individual may require anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 follicular unit grafts. This means to restore the appearance of fullness in the entire scalp a person may require 7,000-8,000 grafts.
Unfortunately, not many patients have this many grafts available in their scalp donor hair supply. However, the number of grafts available can be expanded if a combination of both FUSS and FUE is employed. This approach is perfect for someone with advanced boldness and good donor hair.
Typically, a surgeon will start with FUSS and perform as many procedures as he or she can over a couple of years until there is no more donor hair available via strip. Then, the surgeon will begin performing FUE to acquire as many grafts as possible over one or more sessions. Performing both procedure types over a long period of time can restore a lot more hair than either procedure type alone.
Luckily, most patients can restore the appearance of fullness in the front 2/3rds of their scalp, leaving the crown (vertex) either bald or with light coverage. Please click on our easy to use graft calculator which is a valuable tool to help you determine how many follicular unit grafts (and hairs) you might need depending on the area of the scalp you need covered and desired density.
Why is location important? It’s simple! The cost of living affects the surgeons overhead which will determine what they are able to charge for the procedure.
For example, in San Francisco, California, the cost of living is 3 to 4x more expensive than the rest of the United States. Alternatively, the housing market in New York is nearly 50% less expensive. So, what does this mean? The wages will have to be significantly higher in California and lower in New York to offset the costs in comparison to other states.
Moreover, the cost of leasing office space will be a lot higher in California and potentially lower in New York. All of these costs factor into what surgeons can charge to be able to stay in business.
4. Travel Expenses
Generally, surgeons will provide travel vouchers for anywhere from $200-500 dollars if you are having surgery performed out of state or out of country.
Some surgeons even provide their own travel accommodations which includes food and lodging. That said, it is important to remember that the determining factor on whether or not to choose that hair restoration surgeon for your procedure should always be their proven ability to produce consistent results.
While convenience and price are important, it’s far better to travel to undergo surgery with a top hair surgeon then go to an unknown local surgeon who may or may not produce excellent results. Remember, donor hair is limited so choose wisely the first time or you’ll end up having to travel anyway for a hair transplant repair procedure with less available donor hair and far less money.
This isn’t to say that a local surgeon can’t produce excellent results. But why take the risk? Now if you’re one of the lucky ones who happen to have a proven, top hair transplant surgeon in their backyard, then there’s no need to travel.
5. The Surgeon you choose and his experience:
Does Price Equal Quality? The short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean that you should go to the cheapest surgeon/clinic either. This is why research is so important. You cannot base your decision solely on cost. There are very good surgeons who perform high-quality results for a reasonably low price, but the vast majority of hair transplant clinics who advertise extremely low prices DO NOT perform high-quality procedures. In fact, the majority of these clinics are known as “black market FUE” clinics.
These black market FUE clinics carry out the entire procedure without the presence of a surgeon or even a doctor. The entire procedure is performed by inexperienced technicians. Conversely, just because a clinic is charging high-prices doesn’t mean they are performing great surgery either.