I got to thinking about not being completely satisfied with my hair transplant and was wondering if my expectations were too high? I mean I wasn't expecting to look like Ronald Reagan or anything but is it not possible for a level 3 on the Norwood scale of hair loss to get a look similar to that of Chris Martin from Coldplay? Could this be achieved with another procedure?
What can be accomplished with hair transplant surgery is different for each patient. The phrase "illusion of density" is thrown out a lot to illustrate that though many hair transplants can look full and dense they're typically not going to be as thick as your natural hair prior to any hair loss. Thus transplanting hair as closely together without sacrificing coverage may create an optical illusion of density, but under certain lighting and at various angles, it may appear see through.
It usually takes about 50% of your original density in order to achieve an adequate illusion of density with surgical hair restoration. Those with larger areas of baldness will never be able to achieve both full coverage and enough density to portray the illusion of a full head of hair.
The patient with a higher number of grafts in itself doesn't necessarily produce the best looking result. What can be realistically accomplished depends on the area of baldness to be covered, available donor hair, hair characteristics, and placement of the grafts.
Chris Martin from Coldplay seems to have a pretty thick head of hair as far as I can tell. Assuming you want "true density" (no thinning on top) as he appears to have, it would take a great number of grafts on a Norwood 3 to accomplish true density.
Let's talk about sheer numbers for a minute apart from the other qualities that make for an optimal hair transplant result.
The average head has approximately 100,000 hair follicles, approximately 50,000 of which fill the top of the head in the Norwood 5 region. Since the average number of hairs per graft is approximately 2.2, a Norwood 5 patient would need approximately 23,000 grafts to achieve true density, a number well beyond donor availability. To achieve an adequate uniform illusion, the patient would require approximately 11,500 grafts, a number achievable by a select few. Most physicians don't spread the grafts out uniformly, but place most of the grafts strategically in the front and taper off as they go back. This allows for a thicker head of hair in the front and a natural fade into the back, much like male pattern baldness typically progresses. The goal is to usually bring the patient up a few Norwood levels.
Bill Associate Publisher/Editor