Hairline Restoration: Surgical, Cosmetic & Natural Methods

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 03/31/2022

Updated 09/01/2023

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.

What Is Hairline Restoration Surgery?

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. 

Hairline Restoration Surgery Effectiveness

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.

Side Effects of Hairline Restoration Surgery

Let’s talk about the risks of hairline restoration surgery. Short-term effects of restoration surgery may include:

  • Ingrown hairs

  • Cysts

  • Telogen effluvium and similar types of hair loss

  • Infection

  • Rejection

  • Bleeding

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.

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Costs of Hairline Restoration

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.

Other Ways to Restore Your Hairline

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.

Non-Surgical Hair Loss Procedures

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: 

Hair Growth Medications

There are several FDA-approved medications for the treatment of hair loss, including:

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Hairline Concealers

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:

Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Hair

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

  • Getting enough of vitamins A and D and biotin, which are crucial for hair follicle function

Hair loss treatments, delivered

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Choosing a Hairline Restoration Treatment

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.

  • The type of hair restoration surgery you choose may impact cost and effectiveness — read our blog on FUT vs FUE for more information on these hair loss treatments.

  • If you think going under the knife is the best option, the best thing we can recommend is scheduling time to talk to a healthcare professional about your hairline concerns first. 

  • 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.

5 Sources

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.

  1. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2786. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/.
  2. Asfour L, Cranwell W, Sinclair R. Male Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2023 Jan 25]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/.
  3. Zito PM, Raggio BS. Hair Transplantation. [Updated 2023 Feb 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/.
  4. Saed, S., Ibrahim, O., & Bergfeld, W. F. (2017). Hair camouflage: A comprehensive review. International journal of women's dermatology, 3(1 Suppl), S75–S80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419059/.
  5. Ho CH, Sood T, Zito PM. Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2022 Oct 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.