Today, we want everything, bigger, better and faster. This includes everything from the cars we drive, to the people we admire. It seems that modern society has an insatiable desire for things that are larger than life. In fact, this type of thinking bleeds into other facets of life and surgical hair restoration is no different.
In this article, we will be discussing how many hair transplants a person can have over their lifetime.
Basic Donor Supply Math for FUE
FUE is a minimally invasive procedure that involves a hair transplant surgeon removing follicular units one by one from the patient's donor site with a small punch between the sizes of 0.7 and 1mm in circumference. It is common knowledge that visible hair loss occurs once 50% of the natural density has been lost.
This formula can also be applied to the donor supply (back and sides of the scalp) of a patient. Most individuals are born with approximately 100,000 hairs on their head. This means a typical Norwood 6 patient would have approximately 25,000 hairs in their safe donor zone (area safe from the effects of DHT).
The majority of individuals have about 2 hairs per graft, so if we do some simple division 25,000 hairs break down to 12,500 grafts. Now since we know hair loss does not become visible until 50% of density has been lost, most patients would be able to transplant 6,250 grafts via Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
Now it's important to remember these numbers are not set in stone and will vary from person to person, some may have more grafts available and some may have less.
How About FUSS or strip?
FUSS or strip surgery is performed by removing a strip of donor tissue from the back and sides of the scalp which are genetically resistant to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Strip surgery relies on the elasticity of a patients scalp, because every time a strip of donor tissue is removed, the patient's scalp becomes tighter and loses elasticity.
Thus, reducing the number of surgeries a patient could have without severely compromising the scalp. The term "stripped out" refers to the patient's scalp which can no longer withstand any further donor tissue removal.
The number of surgeries an individual can have depends on the elasticity of their scalp. Some individuals can have up to four hair transplant procedures and others may only be able to have two.
So How Many Hair Transplants Can You Have?
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer, because there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss). Some individuals never lose any hair besides their hairline, while others only lose hair in their crown (vertex) and some go completely bald.
Obviously, the number of hair transplant procedures one can have depends on these aforementioned factors. However, the one thing we are certain of is that combining both FUE and FUSS will ultimately lead to the maximum amount of hair and surgeries one can have.
Combining both surgical techniques provides more hair and allows patients to have more surgeries. However, patients should always stay mindful that their donor supply is a finite resource and should be treated as such. The problems of today will not be the problems of tomorrow.
Therefore, patients should build a long-term strategy with a qualified hair restoration surgeon to ensure their results will stand the test of time.