Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

How to know if you’re a good candidate for a Hair Transplant

Hint: Be honest with yourself.

words by: Adam Hurly
Apr 7, 2022

Hair transplants look mighty convincing these days, thanks to recent advancements in the technology. That means more and more men are considering a transplant as a permanent solution to their hair loss—ideally alongside other hair retention advancements that ensure they won’t continue to shed hairs, either.


However, you might wonder if you’re even a good candidate for a hair transplant in the first place, and which factors will help decide this. Luckily, you’ll also have an assessment prior to any procedures to determine the likely need and success of such a transplant, wherein the doctor will honestly advise you on the below factors. And sometimes, they’ll advise against a transplant altogether. Read on for a list of things that determine if you are an ideal candidate for a hair transplant.


You’re a good hair transplant candidate if…


1. You’ve tried other hair retention methods

It’s important not to make a transplant your first line of defense; It should instead be a response to the fact that other efforts aren’t giving you the results you desire. Oftentimes, people start hair retention regimens years after the first signs, meaning there are a lot of hairs that simply cannot be restored. Ditto for a receded hairline. Once hair recedes, it cannot grow back, even with prescriptive measures. So, when many men finally start to take finasteride (which is the best defense against recession), they are doing so to lock the hairline in its current place rather than endure further recession.


Also, keep in mind that the hairs on top of your head can continue to thin and fall out well after a transplant—however, those follicles that are transplanted will not fall out (since they originated on areas of the head not prone to such loss). Thus, if you transplant a bunch of hairs into the thin patches or around your hairline, then those hairs will still be there in a dozen years, but the rest of your natural hairs may not be. That could look very awkward. So, it’s ill advised to get a transplant if you aren’t already trying the other methods for this reason.


Lastly, once you do begin those methods, you should be able to restore much of the hair you lost in the last year or two (only the thinning from the crown; again, anything receded won’t grow back). And it’s important to let all of this hair return and reclaim its real estate before you go transplanting new follicles on top of dormant, still-fertile follicles.


2. You haven’t lost too much hair up top

The average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles (each sprouting 1-4 hairs). So, let’s pretend the hairs on the top of your scalp (the ones susceptible to loss) account for half of your follicles, or 50,000.


Now, in a single hair transplant session, you can get 2,500-4,000 follicles added up top. And it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do more than two procedures total in terms of what you can take from the rear and sides of your head (that is, before it starts to look extremely sparse itself).


Thus, if you are only technically rearranging 4-8% of your follicles, to help cover a space once covered by 50,000… it’s just not going to look good. That being said, if you feel like you’ve only lost half the follicles up top (largely due to recession, let’s say), then you could still successfully fill in the thinning rear half of the crown and maintain a beautiful (albeit thinner than most) coif.


If you’ve only lost 25-33% of it up top, recession included, then you can probably enjoy incredible results, as if you never lost anything in the first place—at least to the untrained eye—and recession coverage, included. A doctor can help paint the picture of what’s realistic, of course.


3. You are realistic about the outcome

Based on the amount of hair you have lost and the amount you have to donate, you should get a clear idea of what the results will look like. You can’t expect to have Jason Momoa hair if you’re starting with Jude Law, and the entire procedure and regrowth process could end in disappointment if you think it’s going to change your life.


This tip is merely here to save you from being angry with yourself and your doctor later on. Only get a hair transplant if you are confident about how much coverage you’re going to get from the new follicles, and not because you are desperate to look 10-20 years younger.


You might simply look like a more follicular-blessed version of yourself, which is a huge victory in and of itself. The guys who recognize that, though, are the ones who likely set realistic expectations with their doctor from the outset.


4. You have prolific, healthy hair follicles (and a dense donor area)

Again, each follicle on your head can sprout 1-4 hairs. That means that people with more prolific follicles will have more success with their transplant, since they have as much as 300% more hair to “donate,” despite donating the exact same number of follicles/grafts.


Your hair’s own density (both individually and overall) will also determine how much hair you have to donate from the backs and side to the tops of your head. And only a doctor can really assess this, looking at your scalp and hairs under a microscope, to get a clear picture of your hair’s density and potential. This is one reason a pre-transplant in-person consultant is so important. However, a doctor can get a general idea about density simply by looking at you—even if it’s a digital consult. But, the amount of hairs each follicle generates can only be confirmed under careful magnification.


If you’re reading this but still have a lot of hair left, remember that scalp care is paramount to hair health. Here are some other tips to help trigger hair growth if you want to try that route before opting for an implant.


Photo via Hair Transplant Turkey