Are you a candidate for hair transplant?

The desire for a hair replacement, which is cosmetic surgery, cannot simply be performed at the person’s wishes even if they can afford the treatment. There are a number of factors to be considered.

Consider transplanting anything in a general sense. There must be a healthy source from which to get the material to be transplanted, a healthy recipient to which the transplant will be accepted, and finally the transplanted material must be able to take hold and establish its roots from which then it can grow.

The first consideration of the doctor performing the transplant is whether the patient’s cosmetic expectations can be achieved. Remember that hair transplantation does not result in hair growth, but is only a relocation process. So if the amount of available hair is insufficient to meet the expectations of the patient, the result will be unacceptable to doctor and patient. What this means to the patient is that during the initial interview, the desires and expectations must be clearly communicated to the doctor.

In this initial phase of discussion, it is also important to realize this is a surgical procedure and, like any surgery, should not be repeated unless absolutely necessary. A single hair transplant procedure can take months to fully realize the effects of the transplant, and again, like any surgery, the body needs time to heal both the source area and the grafted area. A phenomenon known as “shock loss” of hair is possible, resulting in additional hair loss, though this is usually a temporary hair loss. Because hair transplantation is a surgical and cosmetic procedure, there will be some emotional distress during the process even with optimal results.

What then are the criteria to be a candidate for hair transplantation?

For the purpose of clarity, candidates will be separated by gender, though some of the criteria are similar.



  • Have had genetic hair loss for a period of 5 years or more
  • Hair loss has progressed to a Norwood Class 3 or higher (The Norwood Classification is a standard visual evaluation of hair loss commonly used in the industry, ranging from a low of 1 to a high of 7)
  • Currently on prescription medication to prevent continued hair loss but realize the inevitability of permanent hair loss
  • Patterned hair loss that has stabilized
  • Loss of hair due to burning or trauma to the scalp
  • The result of other cosmetic surgery such as a face lift


  • Loss of hair due to burning or trauma to the scalp
  • The result of other cosmetic surgery such as a face lift
  • If the hair loss pattern shows itself to be similar to male patterned baldness

Note that these points are general considerations, but only a qualified physician can make a final evaluation and recommendation to whether a particular patient is a good hair transplant candidate.

Initial consultation

Once it is determined the patient is a qualified candidate, the doctor will answer questions and discuss the procedure in more detail. Because this is a cosmetic procedure, the doctor will be sure the patient understands the limitations and explains what can be expected from the procedure. Specifics such as the number of grafts needed to achieve the desired look, the amount of time required for the procedure, and the total amount of time necessary to see the desired result are also part of the discussion. Likely the last topic of discussion will be the total cost of the hair transplantation procedure.


So the patient has been determined to be a candidate and has had their initial consultation. The next step is to properly prepare for the surgery itself. Based on the discussion and examination by the doctor, a specific set of instructions will be given to the patient. However, in general, the patient will be advised to stop smoking for a minimum of two months – one month prior to the hair transplantation and one month after. Caution in the consumption of alcohol will also be advised, as well as taking certain vitamins. One of the primary issues that is involved with smoking and vitamin intake is blood flow to the hair, essential to the success of the surgery.

One recommendation that seems natural is for the doctor to recommend that the patient does not cut their hair for one month prior to the procedure. This will allow the hair to grow in fully and avoid any potential damage to the scalp area.

The day of the surgery will require the patient to wash their hair but not to use any type of hair spray, gel, or other hair products that could cause infection or complications.

Arrange for transportation after the surgery to return home and rest for a few days.

Plan on staying home for about one week after the surgery to allow time for complete and proper healing of the affected areas.