Will I Be Able to Obtain a Full Head of Hair with Hair Transplant Surgery?

Many hair loss suffererers seeking hair loss help ask if they will be able to obtain a full head of hair with hair transplantation.

What a hair loss sufferer is really asking however, is “Will I be able to restore my hair the good old high school days?” This question is generally always no however, how much hair density one can achieve which will paint the illusion of hair fullness will depending on the level of hair loss one is experiencing.

Each hair transplant patient has a finite supply of donor hair/tissue that can be removed for hair transplantation during Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT - strip surgery) regardless of number of hair restoration sessions. Additional hair can also be extracted using the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) or the Follicular Isolation Technique (FIT) - however, this number is limited as well.

Because there is a limitation of how many donor hairs can be taken, clearly the hair transplant physicians must use the grafts/hairs wisely, taking into consideration factors like hair density verses hair coverage. Clearly those with lesser amounts of hair loss can use their hair grafts to dense up existing balding areas (assuming their hair loss is under control), whereas those with greater amounts of hair loss have to sacrifice one or the other, hair density or coverage. One may choose to add density to the frontal part of their scalp while neglecting the rest of their scalp, leaving the crown bald or choose full hair coverage while producing natural but thinner hair.

The phrase “illusion of density” is common when discussing hair transplantation. Because donor supply is limited, there is simply no way to restore a “full head of hair”, but with proper use of the limited donor hair, hair transplant clinics can strategically place the follicular unit grafts over the balding region to create an “illusion of density”. This means that one can achieve the appearance of a full head of hair without obtaining the proper hair density required to achieve a literal full head of hair.

How then is the illusion of density different than having a full head of hair?

Firstly, it is important to mention that only half of the original hair density is required to achieve the illusion of density. This has proven to be true especially because those who have started the hair thinning process typically don't notice until after half of the original hair density is gone. The bad news for hair loss sufferers is, most people suffering from hair loss don't realize it until they've already lost a lot of hair. The difference therefore between the illusion of hair density and a full head of hair is hair density.

But those with an illusion of hair fullness will appear thinner under harsh lighting conditions. Some lighting and direction of the light will reveal thinner hair while others will reveal a thick bushy mane of hair.

I believe the appearance or illusion of density related to lighting depends on several factors:

1. Illumination

The brightness of the light will clearly influence the appearance of hair density. The brighter the light, the greater the chance of revealing scalp and thinning hair. A quality hair transplant will stand up in all lighting conditions - in that it will look natural, however, clearly, the appearance of density will lessen as the light brightens.

2. Color:

Florescent and lighter colored lights will lessen the appearance of hair density whereas normal or colored lights increase the appearance of hair density.

3. Direction/Angling

Direction and angling of the light plays a significant role in the appearance of one's hair. This is even true for people who have experienced no hair loss. I have found specifically that direct sunlight directingly shining on my hairline makes my hair appear quite dense, whereas the sun coming from behind makes my hair look much thinner from the front. Straight overhead (around noon), I'd say my hairline looks somewhere in between these two extremes.

But why does this happen? It has to do with shadowing created by the light itself. Some directions will create a shadow right on the head itself making the hair appear much thicker than it actually is while other hairs will remove all shadow from the head exposing scalp.

One question posted on our hair restoration forum is "Which lighting exposes the truth?"

Though this has been answered in many ways, I believe they all do since in this case, truth is relative to the above lighting conditions. The only exception may be photos taken with flash photography.

The bottom line is at varying points of one's day and/or life, we will be seen in all types of lighting. I admit there have been times where I am talking to someone outside and end up noticing that the sun is behind me where I have strategically angled myself so that the sun is more flattering to my hairline. This is a similar concept as those who are into heavy weightlifting and/or body building. Certain lights and mirrors are more flattering than others, therefore, they prefer to flex in front of those mirrors, in that lighting.

As a three time hair transplant patient, I'd say that my level of satisfaction is very high and that my hair restoration goals are met.