Hair plugs or a hair transplant for natural-looking results?
Which hair replacement method is more capable of providing natural results: hair plugs or hair transplant surgery?
Hair plugs are now considered outdated and have been replaced by hair transplant surgery. Hair transplant physicians use different techniques to extract and transplant large quantities of hair follicles, or follicular units. The two most common techniques are follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
The FUSS method is most commonly used for women because the follicles can be removed without needing to shave the head. During the FUSS procedure, a small section of hair towards the back and middle of the scalp is trimmed and removed. A very delicate suture seals the wound and is barely visible while it heals.
The donor strip is then divided into thousands of individual follicular units using stereoscopic microscopes, with the units chilled to preserve their integrity. New recipient sides are created in the scalp using tiny needles, and the follicular units are inserted into the scalp tissue.
Another hair restoration option that is enjoying promising results among women is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. PRP draws a small amount of blood from the patient and centrifuges it to isolate the growth factors of the blood. The PRP is then gently injected into the areas of the scalp that are showing signs of hair thinning or hair loss. The process requires no surgery and has no downtime, but does require multiple sessions.
Be cognizant that treating female hair thinning is different to male hair thinning, and can sometimes be disappointing as not all patients respond to the treatment in the same way. So before committing to any procedure it’s vital that you determine the cause of your hair loss and seek the opinion of an experienced professional.
Nowadays, hair plugs are very rarely used. Hair transplantation techniques are far more common, with follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT) among the most popular methods. During an FUE hair transplant, the hair is shaved and individual hair follicles are removed from the back of the scalp using a specialized instrument. Small, almost imperceptible, circular scars result. The individual follicles are checked and then reinserted back into the scalp in the balding areas.
Shaving the head is not required for a FUT hair transplant. Sections of hair follicles are removed from the back of the scalp via a very delicate incision. The strips are then divided into individual follicular units and reinserted into the scalp. More downtime is required with this method, however, due to the removal of scalp tissue from the back of the head.
Both procedures have their merits and result in excellent outcomes with the right candidates, but may not be suitable for all women, depending on the cause of their hair loss. While women can experience hair loss just like men, the actual way their hair thins is quite different.
Women often experience diffuse thinning across the entire scalp, meaning hair transplantation may not produce optimal outcomes. If the hair follicles across the entire head are thin and weak, they are most likely unsuitable for transplantation. Alternative therapies that may be considered include PRP and low-level laser therapy.
In this day and age, incredible advances in hair transplant surgery have rendered hair plugs an outdated form of hair restoration. Follicular unit strip surgery and follicular unit transportation are much more common alternatives, providing very natural results by moving hair follicles from a donor site to a recipient site.
Unfortunately, however, only a very small percentage of women are good candidates for hair transplant surgery. Many hair restoration methods are effective for men suffering from male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, but much less so for women, who tend to suffer diffuse hair loss over the entirety of their heads. Nevertheless, hair transplant procedures can produce successful outcomes among women who:
- Have suffered hair loss due to traction alopecia (by pulling their hair into tight braids or cornrows, for example).
- Have undergone facial cosmetic procedures and are hoping to cover hair loss around the incision sites.
- Have a distinct pattern of baldness, similar to male pattern baldness.
- Have suffered hair loss due to trauma or scarring.
- Have alopecia marginalis, a condition similar to traction alopecia.
Even if you aren’t an ideal candidate for hair transplant surgery, there are other alternatives available. Low level laser therapy has proven to be an effective alternative for some patients. The best way to determine if there is a treatment that can help you reverse your thinning hair is to schedule a consultation with a doctor experienced in treating female baldness.