Hair Transplant

The Ultimate Guide to Hair Transplant

Page updated: 25 September 2021

For many of us, hair loss is an inevitable fact of life; for others, it's a source of embarrassment—and it's normally these people who try to do something about it, often with over-the-counter medication, hair concealer sprays or just an ever-growing collection of hats...

A more effective and longer-lasting solution is to undergo a hair transplant—and with prices at our global partner clinics up to 70% less than in the UK, the US and EU, it’s now a more affordable option than ever. 

With Medical Departures, learn more about how different methods work, including FUE, FUT and DHI, and then see how much you can save when booking at one of our verified hair transplant surgeons in affordable, exciting destinations such as Turkey, Mexico or Thailand.

What Is a Hair Transplant?

A hair transplant may entail either a non-invasive technique (follicular unit extraction) or strip harvesting method (follicular unit transplant) whereby grafts are harvested from a donor region and then moved to a recipient area; i.e, the area of the scalp with insufficient hair growth. 

In the majority of cases, grafts are taken from the back or sides of the head as the follicles here are less susceptible to the hormones that cause hair loss—hence why this is normally the last area of the head to go bald as we all age. 

The exact technique and instrumentation used to extract and transfer the follicles differ depending on the type of hair transplant you opt for. This is something we look at in more detail in the following sections on FUE, FUT and DHI. 

Am I Suitable for Hair Transplant Surgery? What Else Should I Know?

  • Hair transplants are suitable for those suffering from baldness or thinning hair.

  • To qualify, patients need to have sufficient follicles or hair growth that can be used for the transplant.

  • If you are completely bald, it is unlikely a hair transplant will be achievable.

  • Both men and women may be suitable candidates.

  • Race and age are not normally determining factors of a patient’s suitability.

  • A professional will be able to confirm whether your particular condition will respond to treatment.

Other things to take into consideration before undergoing treatment:

  • Sideburn, moustache and beard transplants are also available. 

  • It takes around two or three months for new hair follicles to start developing; 100% coverage can be expected after one year or more.

  • The FUT does leave a small linear scar at the donor region; there is no scarring with the FUE or DHI methods.

  • Surgery, which is carried out under local anaesthetic, can be done in one single session (2–4 hours) or multiple sessions over two or more days; this depends on the number of grafts required. 

  • If you are still experiencing significant baldness, it is best to wait until the hair loss has stopped, otherwise, you may require “top-up” treatment as new bald patches appear.

  • Patients should look at taking a week off work, and plan to stay in their chosen destination for at least 3–5 days (minimum) to complete their treatment. 

As hair transplants fall under the definition of “cosmetic surgery,” such treatment is not available on the NHS, nor do insurance providers help out financially. For those who do decide to go private in the UK, a final bill of £7,000-10,000 (or even more) is likely. Similarly, hair transplant procedures are not covered in the US, with out-pocket costs ranging from $8,000-$14,000.

As you’ll see further down this page in the price comparison charts, visiting a hair transplant clinic in Turkey or Mexico can save you two-thirds, equating to thousands of pounds or dollars saved compared to prices back home. 

Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock.com

What Are the Different Hair Transplant Methods?

The most common hair transplant methods are:

  • FUE (follicular unit extraction) 

  • FUT (follicular unit transplant)

  • DHI (direct hair implantation)

FUE Hair Transplants

Follicular unit extraction, whereby individual follicles are extracted from a donor region before being transplanted to the balding area, is the most widely used hair transplant method at our global partner clinics. 

The session of surgery may take between two and four hours, depending on the number of grafts. If a high number of grafts are to be extracted and transferred—6,000 or more—several separate sessions may be required over two or more days. 

Sapphire FUE

Many global hair transplant centres may also offer “sapphire FUE,” a slight modification of the below-described FUE procedure. Instead of using traditional steel microblades, the blades are made from sapphire, a precious gemstone. As for the advantage? These often more expensive blades can create even smaller canal openings (or “microchannels”) across the recipient area, minimizing scab formation and expediting recovery times.

Step-by-step FUE:

  1. Initial consultation: An initial consultation allows for your surgeon to confirm your suitability for FUE, as well as determine the number of grafts needed in order to achieve your aesthetic goals (i.e. getting that full head of hair back!). This is done by using the Norwood Scale, as later described. 

    In this first meeting, you may also ask any questions about the procedure and what to expect in the weeks and months following surgery.

  1. Extraction of grafts: Under local anaesthetic, a specialised extraction tool is used to harvest single follicles, normally from the back of the head; these contain between 1-4 hairs and thus need to be sorted and then stored briefly in a solution to maintain vitality before transplantation.

  2. Incisions and implantation: Next, tiny micropunches between 0.6–0.8 mm in size are made across the recipient region in order to accommodate the transplanted follicles, which are inserted into the openings with a different hand tool. Due to the minuscule size of these incisions, any scarring will not be noticeable.

  3. This step may directly follow Stage 2 (above), although in cases where a large number of grafts are required (which can be 6,000 or more), the surgeon may ask you to come back on another day.

  4. Note: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) may be used as the micropunches are being made around the recipient area of the scalp. This innovative therapy can aid with the healing process and promote hair growth.

  5. Post-operative check-up: Following surgery, you will need to go back to the clinic at least once, often the day after. Thus, it would be a good idea to book into a comfortable hotel nearby your chosen clinic or hospital, if possible. 

    Upon your return, the doctor will examine how the scalp has reacted to the surgery, check how you are feeling and prescribe more pain medication, as required. They should also be able to give you the green light for safely flying home from your chosen destination, which is normally possible a few days later. 

Advantages of the FUE technique:

  • High success rate, with an estimated survival rate of 90-95% for the transplanted follicles.

  • Leaves no visible scarring, meaning patients can wear their hair shorter than those needing to cover up a linear scar after the FUT method.

  • Generally has a quick recovery time compared to other methods.

  • After 5 or 6 months, patients can look forward to 50% hair coverage; the new hairs will continue to grow, with total coverage expected after 12–15 months. 

FUT Hair Transplants

Follicular unit transplant, also known as strip harvesting, is generally the preferred method for patients in the later stages of hair loss who still have sufficient growth towards the back of the scalp. 

The procedure involves a small strip of hair being taken from the donor region using a scalpel, then dissected into smaller groups and finally into individual grafts. After being stored briefly in a solution to maintain vitality, these grafts are inserted into tiny openings in the recipient area, much like the final stage of the FUE technique. 

Prospective patients should note that this method does leave a small linear scar; this will become less visible as the hair grows back to a certain length and thickness. 

Step-by-step FUT:

  1. Initial consultation: You’ll meet with the doctor at your chosen clinic or hospital who will confirm your suitability, discuss your aesthetic goals and also determine how many grafts are required based on the widely used Norwood Scale classification system. 

  1. Strip harvesting: Under local anaesthetic (which means the entire affected area is numb), the first step is for a strip of skin holding healthy hair follicles to be cut away. This is normally harvested from the back of the scalp, with the flaps of skin stitched closed immediately after extraction. 

  2. Dissection and transplantation: The strip is dissected into small groups of individual grafts, each holding 1-4 hairs. These are sorted, placed in a special solution to maintain vitality and then when ready, transferred to the recipient region.

    The transplantation is performed by creating micro-incisions in the recipient region with a specialised blade; the harvested grafts are then painstakingly inserted into these tiny openings, one by one. To complete the procedure, the scalp is disinfected and the incision is bandaged. 

  3. Post-operative check-up: If your surgery was carried out in one session, you’ll generally be asked back the next day for a post-op check-up. Your doctor will ask how you are feeling, examine and perhaps re-bandage the small wound, and give you advice as to how to care for your scalp in the coming days, weeks and months as the new follicles start to develop. 

Advantages of FUT:

  • Generally more suitable for those in the more advanced stages of hair loss who require more grafts than average.

  • Provides thicker hair coverage.

  • A good option for those who wear their hair long, as a certain degree of length would be needed to hide the scar tissue. 

  • Usually shorter surgery time, depending on the number of grafts. 

  • Often costs less than FUE.

DHI Hair Transplants

Direct hair implantation (DHI) is a modification of the FUE technique, whereby a specialised Choi Implanter Pen is used instead of micro-blades. Using micromotor technology, this automated device enables the surgeon to extract grafts much faster and potentially more accurate than the standard FUE technique. 

As the surgeon has more control over the types of follicles that are harvester (i.e. larger or smaller), greater hair density can often be achieved with DHI. 

Advantages of DHI:

  • No need to shave the recipient region. 

  • Can provide for thicker hair growth in the future when compared to FUE. 

  • No scarring and generally considered the least invasive option. 

  • Potentially a quicker recovery time and faster hair regrowth over the following months. 

Which Hair Transplant Method Is the Right for Me?

If you are not sure which hair transplant method is right for you, we can set up a free telemedicine consultation with a surgeon in places like Turkey, Mexico or Thailand. The specialist will be able to give you advice depending on:

  • Your stage of hair loss

  • Your aesthetic goals

  • Your budget

  • Their personal area of expertise

To give you an idea now...

  • FUE may be best for you if you are in the early stages of hair loss and seeking a minimally invasive option, with no scarring, high success rates and natural-looking results when the hair is worn short or medium length. 

  • FUT is generally advised for patients in the later stages of hair loss (according to the Norwood Scale); with this kind of strip harvesting, only one session of surgery may be possible, while other methods may involve several long sessions, possibly over a number of days.

  • Direct hair transplantation is a more specialist technique, and not all hair transplant clinics offer it. DHI is recommended by many surgeons around the world as it allows for thicker hair density, shorter recovery times and leaves no visible scarring.

Hair Transplant Recovery Times 

In terms of the short-term recovery time for all three types of hair transplants, take note of the following:

  • You should be able to fly home after approximately three days following surgery and be back to work shortly after.

  • For those only needing to drive home, such as back across the US-Mexico border, this may be possible the next day, following your post-op consultation.

  • Bandages can be self-removed after 2–5 days (without touching the grafts). 

  • By day 6 or 7 you should be able to gently hand wash your hair. 

  • Any non-dissolvable stitches can be removed by a local GP after 10–14 days. 

  • You should take care of your head over the next two weeks, avoiding sports and direct exposure to sunlight. 

Learn more about how long it takes for your new hair to grow further down this page. 

Credit: Tanya Lovus/Shutterstock.com

How Many Grafts Would I Need?

The Norwood Scale is used by our global hair transplant clinics and hospitals to determine the number of grafts you require to get that full head of hair back. 

Once the number of grafts has been determined, a price estimate can also then be quoted, along with advice as to which transplant method would be best for you. 

The infographic below shows the 10 stages of hair loss, from IIa (“slight hair loss or recession of the hairline”) through to VII (“severe hair loss where only a small band of hair around the sides remains”).  

According to each stage of the Norwood Scale, see the approximate number of grafts required to achieve full scalp coverage:

Norwood
Stage
IIa III IIIa III Vertex IV
Grafts 500-800 1,000-1,400 1,500-2,400 1,700-
2,500
1,700-
2,500
Norwood
Stage
IVa V Va VI VII
Grafts 1,700-
2,500
2,800-
3,700
2,500-3,200 3,300-4,500 4,500+ 

Transplanting Hair to Other Body Parts

Medical Departures’ partner clinics and hospitals around the world also offer hair transplants to other areas, normally on parts of the head/face where there is balding or thinning, including:

  • Sideburn transplants

  • Moustache and goatee transplants

  • Beard transplants

  • Eyebrow transplants

How Long Does it Take for My Hair to Grow after a Transplant?

When it comes to waiting for new hair growth to develop following surgery, patience really is key. 

In fact, following surgery, the new follicles will actually shed from the scalp rather than grow; this is perfectly normal and part of the healing process. 

After approximately three months, most patients will start to see some positive signs, with 10% hair coverage estimated at this mark. 

Approximately 50% coverage can be expected after around half a year, and the new follicles will continue to develop across the recipient area for a total of 1315 months or longer. 

See the below table to get an idea as to the expected hair regrowth timeline for FUE, FUT and DHI procedures:

Credit: Medical Departures, LLC

How Much Do FUE, FUT, DHI Hair Transplants Cost Abroad?

Our clients typically save between 50% and 70% when undergoing treatment abroad. 

Obviously, these cost-savings can be maximised when undergoing surgery in an easy-to-reach location: for example, patients in the UK would be advised to fly to Turkey’s Istanbul—dubbed the “hair transplant capital of the world”—thanks to the inexpensive flights available, while Americans should consider heading south of the border into Mexico, either via car or air. 

The cost of hair transplants abroad will depend on the number of grafts required, the type of technique used, as well as the international reputation of the clinic and surgeon. 

To get a rough idea of hair transplant prices abroad, take a look at the below tables providing global average estimates on the FUE method /per number of grafts:

Number of Grafts

Global Price (USD)

Global Price (EUR)

Global Price (GBP)

500 - 800

 $580 - 930  €500 - 800  £400 - 700

900 - 1200

 $1,000 - 1,400  €900 - 1,200  £780 - 1,000

1300 - 1800

 $1,500 - 2,100  €1,300 - 1,800  £1,100 - 1,500

1900 - 2500

$ 2,200 - 2,900  €1,900 - 2,500  £1,600 - 2,100

2600 - 3500

 $3,000 - 4,000  €2,600 - 3,500  £2,200 - 3,000

3600 - 4500

 $4,200 - 5,200  €3,600 - 4,500  £3,100 - 3,800 

4600 - 5000+

 $5,300 - 5,800  €4,600 - 5,000  £4,000 - 4,300

Please note that these prices are estimates calculated at the time of writing. 

How Do the Costs Abroad Compare to Prices in the UK? 

For another price comparison, take a look at average prices estimates for the FUE method at our partner clinics compared prices for the same treatment in the UK. Prices are given in pounds, with euro and dollar equivalents:

Number of Grafts

Average price in the UK

(GBP)

Average price in Turkey

(GBP)

500 - 800

 £1,200 - 2,100  £400 - 700 

900 - 1200

 £2,350 - 3,000  £780 - 1,000

1300 - 1800

 £3,300 - 4,500  £1,100 - 1,500

1900 - 2500

 £4,800 - 6,300  £1,600 - 2,100

2600 - 3500

 £6,000 - 9,000   £2,200 - 3,000

3600 - 4500

 £9,300 - 11,200  £3,100 - 3,800

4600 - 5000+

 £12,000 - 12,900  £4,000 - 4,300

Where Are the Best Global Clinics for Hair Transplants?

Medical Departures has partnered with hair transplants clinics all over the world; the top three global destinations for this treatment in terms of quality, value for money and convenience are:

  • Turkey
  • Mexico
  • Thailand

Below you can find our top-rated clinics in each of these destinations:

Best Hair Transplant Clinics in Turkey

>> See full Turkey list

Best Hair Transplant Clinics in Mexico 

>> See full Mexico list

Best Hair Transplant Clinics in Thailand 

>> See full Thailand list

Other Destinations

If you’re looking for alternative destinations for your hair transplant, check out these hair transplant destination guides:

Click through to see updated prices, surgeon profiles, reviews, before and after photos and more. 

And remember, when booking with Medical Departures, you’ll get the lowest rates online thanks to our Best Price Guarantee

See the below hair transplant before and after photos provided by our global partners:

Hair transplant: before & after. Credit: Transes Hair Transplant Center

Hair transplant before-and-after. Credit: Istanbul Aesthetic Center

Hair Transplants in Turkey: Overview

Medical Departures has partnered with some of the top specialists in Turkey, mostly in the dazzling Eurasian city of Istanbul. 

As well as world-class treatment and low prices, Turkey can be reached in just four hours from the UK with budget airlines, making this a particularly convenient destination for hair transplants. 

You should be able to enjoy your time in Turkey either before or after your procedure; just make sure you stick to low-key activities, such as sightseeing (with a hat!) rather than anything too vigorous. 

We also offer a growing number of clinics in Antalya and Izmir, two impressive coastal cities situated on the Turkish Riviera in the south. 

Find out more about undergoing hair transplant surgery in Turkey here

Hair Transplants in Mexico: Overview

For North Americans, Mexico is the most convenient location, with hair transplant clinics and hospitals located in a number of border towns and cities such as Tijuana and Mexicali. 

Mexico has fast become one of the world’s go-to medical tourist destinations thanks to the quality of its facilities, expertise and competitive prices.

Other fly-to destinations in the country include Mexico City, the capital, Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. 

Learn more about undergoing hair transplant surgery in Mexico here

Hair Transplants in Thailand: Overview

Medical tourism is a major industry in Thailand, with a number of world-class hair transplant clinics located in Bangkok and Phuket. 

Surgeons here are qualified with board certification and memberships of international professional organizations, such as the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons.

Read more about undergoing hair transplant surgery in Thailand here

How Do I Book with Medical Departures?

Take a look through our broad range of verified partner facilities around the world offering safe and effective hair transplant surgery to international patients. 

To book your hair transplant abroad, follow the simple steps on our site to secure the best prices online, with no upfront charges. 

You can also get in touch with the Medical Departures Customer Care Team who can provide you with a free, personalized quote. 

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