Dealing with hair loss or thinning?
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Let’s talk bro code for a minute. Even the most socially awkward of your friends know that a receding hairline is a sensitive subject they shouldn’t mention.
If we live long enough, all of us will eventually lose the battle against hair loss — hair thins as you get older and there’s not a lot you can do to stop it at 90.
With apologies to the WWII vets out there (you guys are too legendary for hair), we’re going to focus this conversation on the fellas in their 20s, 30s and 40s failing to hold the line in a much more personal way.
It’s hard to stop a receding hairline — but what if you could just re-sod it like that dry patch on the lawn?
Hairline restoration is a complicated and invasive procedure, and it can be expensive. But it might also be worth it, depending on your needs, the damage and how much you’re willing to put your body through for a good-looking head of hair.
Below, we’ve laid out the ways you can transplant, cover-up, treat and otherwise deal with hair loss, starting with surgical procedures.
Surgical hair restoration surgery, or hair transplantation surgery, is a surgical procedure in which a doctor enhances or restores your hairline by grafting hair follicles from elsewhere on your body to your head.
Male pattern hair loss symptoms are well-known: a bald spot on the crown, thinning at the temples and a receding hairline pushing back farther and farther — until it disappears forever. The way this surgery fixes these symptoms is by taking what are essentially heartier hairs from your body and using them to replace the now-dead follicles on your scalp.
Originally, scalp reduction surgery was the best way to do this — they’d essentially cut a section of your scalp off and stretch the skin as if they were giving your forehead a tummy tuck. It wasn’t a great method, to say the least.
Today there are two hair transplant techniques commonly used for frontal hairline restoration or restoring an entire hairline: follicular unit extraction (also called FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (known as FUT).
FUT is considered more efficient and faster than FUE. With FUT, the surgeon removes a strip of donor skin with donor hair follicles from your body, separates each individual follicle and then grafts each follicle where they’re needed. It’s a bit messier surgically, but faster than other options.
With FUE procedures like neograft hair transplants or the ARTAS robotic system, those individual follicles are extracted one at a time from the donor location and grafted directly, without the middle step of follicle separation.
FUE takes longer, but it reduces the scope of injury at the donor site, which may mean a lower risk of infection and a faster healing process. Furthermore, this also reduces the amount of scarring at the donor site and makes for less pain after surgery. And because the procedure takes one hair at a time, it means that individual hairs can be taken from smaller and more inconspicuous sites for the transplant, rather than large segments that would be left with noticeable scar patterns.
Both hairline restoration styles are considered effective, assuming everything was done correctly. That means that transplanting hair follicles is a safe and effective way to return hair growth and hair function to an area where pattern hair loss has taken place.
That said, hairline restoration is still an invasive, surgical procedure with a higher likelihood of complications than medication — that’s always going to be the case when you’re removing flesh. However, infections and rejections are not common outcomes.
But there are still side effects to consider.
Let’s talk about the risks of hairline restoration surgery. Short-term effects of restoration surgery may include:
Telogen effluvium and similar types of hair loss
Certain conditions and diseases like autoimmune diseases can increase the risks of side effects or complications of hair restoration.
Your healthcare provider will also look for signs of disease, inflammation, dry scalp and redness that might indicate a hairline transplant might not be effective.
But the truth is that the main concern you face when undergoing this surgery is that your expectations are probably not going to align with what you get for a result.
Your hair is never going to look exactly the way it did before you lost it, and it will have imperfections due to the surgery and the difference in hair textures from your head to your body.
And sometimes, the transplant doesn’t even work at all, leading to wasted follicles, scars and medical bills with nothing to show for them.
Of course, what most people worry about in the case of an elective procedure is the cost.
It’s hard to pin down an exact hairline restoration cost because:
All procedures differ in complexity and scope
The more hair you’ve lost, the more you’ll need to replace
Where you live can determine access and cost of experts
An individual surgeon’s reputation and experience matters
What we can say is that the range may start with a couple thousand dollars and head well into the tens of thousands — anecdotal evidence shows procedures can cost $25,000 or more in some circumstances.
If you’re looking for alternatives to hair restoration surgery, there are plenty of effective and safe (and much less costly) approaches that you should consider. You can talk to a healthcare provider about what might help you.
If you don’t want to go under the knife, there are still treatments and procedures that can help the appearance (and even the regrowth) of your hair.
The most popular today are:
Laser hair growth treatments to encourage new hair growth
Scalp micropigmentation to mask bald spots and thinning hair
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatments to encourage blood flow and healthy function along the scalp
Microneedling to encourage scalp blood flow and hair growth
There are several FDA-approved medications for the treatment of hair loss, including:
The medication finasteride, which comes in both topical and oral formats, and blocks a hormone called DHT, which leads to male pattern baldness
Topical minoxidil foam and minoxidil solution, which promote hair growth by increasing blood flow to the follicles. Studies of minoxidil for receding hairlines showincreased hair thickness and volume for many patients when used as directed.
A combined format like our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray, which offers the benefits of both medications
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34-year-old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid-twenties.”
Not interested in medical, surgical or other hairline treatments? Just want a little cover-up to cover that bald spot on the back of the head or fill in some thinning hair?
There are non-surgical hair replacement and concealing options for you too, including:
Your hair is part of your body. Your whole body health affects your hair. With us so far?
What we’re getting at is that you need to take care of yourself. Making changes to your lifestyle will create the best conditions for growing hair.
For your best head of hair, you should make sure that you are:
Cutting down on stress
Getting enough sleep and exercise
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
If you feel overwhelmed by the number of options, risks and considerations for replacing your hair, you’re not alone. Hair grafts, transplanted hair and the risks that come with them can be kind of scary.
Hair restoration surgery is certainly effective, but for many people, there are alternatives out there that probably make more sense — diet and lifestyle changes, certain medications, proper hair care and more.
If you want to handle your thinning hair with a hair transplant procedure, do it the smart way. Ask questions, get informed and then make your choice. Here’s what to remember as you start that search:
Hair transplants may seem like a one-and-done solution to male pattern baldness, but there’s really a lot involved with the process.
The process, risks and out-of-pocket costs may not be worth the benefits.
They’ll help sort out what type of alopecia (AKA hair loss) you have and discuss which treatment options would be best for your individual needs.
Restoring your hairline to its glory days may never be possible even with the best of surgeries, but if you’re unhappy with the way your hair looks, there are options to change its appearance. Talk to a healthcare professional for more information today.
Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.