This podcast episode addresses the question:” how many hair grafts do I need?”
Dr. Joffrey: Hello everybody! This is Dr. Joffrey with Chicago Hair Clinic and you are listening to our podcast. Today, I’m going to talk about a topic, I think, that will be of interest to pretty much just about anybody who’s considering having a hair restoration procedure, and that’s the question, “How much hair do I need?”
Obviously, that’s important because, frankly, most hair restoration, hair transplant procedures are charged per graft. The question is, “How many grafts do I need, Doctor?” Here is how you figure it out.
Now, these are some very general principles and I don’t want you to feel like I told you something that’s not true if you get quoted something else because I’m giving some very broad stroke principles, so you can, at least, get a handle on what you might be up against.
Let’s take the general premise that 2,000 grafts covers an area on your scalp of about a size of a compact disc, a CD. So, that’s a good place to start. Now, there’s a lot of considerations that go into this when you start playing around with those numbers.
Now, first of all, what the heck is a graft anyway? What is a hair graft? We use the word “graft” to describe each follicular unit that we take out. When we say graft, we’re not talking about individual hairs. We’re talking about what’s called a follicular unit. A follicular unit is, on the scalp, will have somewhere between one and four hairs on it. What you’re doing is taking out each graft and each graft has either one, two, three, or four hairs in it. It’s going to average out between two and three. I mean, that’s generally how it works.
Now, obviously there are some genetic factors and some people might have more single hair follicular units and some people might have more, but that’s a pretty good general rule. The CD that I said is based on that whole premise, the CD size. Now, what else matters? The number of grafts will change depending on where you need hair.
As a general rule, the further forward you move the more hair you need; the more hair grafts you need. That’s because it needs to be more dense in the areas where people are going to look at you directly, specifically, in the hairline. The hairline requires a lot of hair. If you need a complete reconstruction of your hairline, it’s going to really take quite a bit of hair. It might just take 2,000 grafts just to do that. Then if you have a good hairline and you’ve got the size of a CD that’s behind it, say, closer to the crown area, it may just take that 2,000 grafts we talked about.
Another consideration is what kind of procedure are you having and where are you having it? I say that because it’s just a reality, okay? If you have a strip procedure, that’s the gold standard in hair restoration right now. Generally speaking, if you go to a reputable hair clinic, probably about 85 percent of the hair follicles that are placed are going to live. In other words, if you have a thousand grafts placed, 850 of those grafts will probably survive. I mean, that’s in a quality hair clinic.
Now, if you use something like automated follicular unit transfer which we love using in our office, that number may be 97 to 99 percent, so you’re getting virtually all of the hair that you had taken from the donor area survive and become part of your scalp, your balding scalp. That obviously affects the number of grafts you need as well.
Manual FUE, the type of follicular unit extraction that’s done by hand has a very, very poor grafts survival rate. It might be as low as 50 percent. That’s another consideration. You might have 2,000 grafts placed over time with manual FUE and only end up with a 1,000 grafts, so you can’t use that CD to judge how much hair you need there.
Another situation that’s a little unusual that we’ve talked about in previous episodes is body hair. Body hair is different from the scalp hair because there is only one hair per follicular unit. Now, a lot of times we find that the hair from the body has a little bit of different texture to it that makes it appear thicker or it might be a little bit curly compared to the hair from the scalp. A lot of times, you can get away with using the same number of body hairs as you would as from the scalp. But, it’s not always the case.
There are a lot of factors that go into this. I think the thing that’s mostly in your control is frankly choosing a reputable office and the right procedure for you. You can predict most accurately what kind of hair or how many grafts you’re going to need if you go to somewhere that’s busy, that does a lot of good work because the grafts are going to survive and they’re going to be able to tell you with greater accuracy how much hair you’re going to need.
I think that a general rule of thumb is whether you choose our clinic or another good, reputable clinic out there, don’t get hang up … I know it’s easy to say, but don’t get hang up on price shopping because that is a recipe for disaster. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen in our office somebody who’s come in who’s had four strip procedures in the past and apparently has had 6,000 grafts placed in their scalp because it certainly doesn’t look that way. It looks like there’s maybe, if they’re lucky, a 1,000 grafts that survived. That can potentially happen.
You have to take this very seriously. It’s a lot more serious than getting your haircut and you have to treat it that way. These are permanent changes that are being made. Do your homework. You can certainly do that on our website at ChicagoHairClinic.com and look at our blog too. Otherwise, there’s certainly a lot of resources out there that you can look at on the Internet as well. Do your homework. Try not to just look at the cheapest possible procedure you can get because a lot of times, the old saying, “You get what you pay for” and it’s true in hair restoration as well.
We’d be happy to give you a quote in terms of what we think you need. We do that a lot. We have a lot of out-of-state patients. You can always give us a call at 847-995-9000. We can correspond by email and I, or one of the other doctors, will take a look at your photos under a high magnification and see what we think we can do and how many grafts it’ll take.
Anyway, that is it for this podcast episode. I hope it was helpful to you. Again, if you’d like us to help you out, come to the website. Take a look or give us a call and we’d love to talk to you in person. Thanks a lot.