Ongoing Medication after Hair Transplantation Surgery – Is it necessary?
Hair transplantation surgery as everyone knows delivers fantastic results as long as the patient is deemed a suitable candidate and that the transplant is performed by a very experienced and qualified hair transplant surgeon and an experienced team of technicians.
One thing that some patients never think about when deciding to have a transplant is the potential of losing more of their existing hair over the long term. These people come in with the mentality of, “I just want to have one really decent hair transplant and to never have to worry about hair loss again!” Let me first say that in some cases this is possible. If a patient in their 60s that has been losing hair slowly for 40 years comes in with only a small to medium sized balding area in their frontal hairline or crown, they could transplant this area at a reasonable density per cm. The Surgeon can also work an extra half inch into their existing surrounding hairs to allow for the small amount of thinning that is expected to occur over the next 20 years. In this scenario, based on the patients older age, their history of very slow hair loss and the fact that the existing regions are still very thick, such a patient could get away with just the one hair transplant procedure during their entire life. The act of preserving existing hair with ongoing medication would also not be necessary in this scenario. However this does not represent the “typical” patient…
The typical patient is usually in their 30s or 40s and has lost quite a noticeable amount of hair during the previous 5 years. They generally have the common sense to understand that the chances of having less hair on top in 5-10 years from now if they do nothing to treat their hair loss, is close to a 100% certainty. Therefore medications such as finasteride ordutasteride are discussed by the Doctor during the consultation process and expressed as an important step in maintaining long term happiness after a hair transplant.
The two questions that the surgeon will ask himself when assessing a potential hair transplant patient are:
1. Will this patient be happy with their decision to have proceeded with a hair transplant when they come in for their 12 month check-up?
2. Based on their hair loss history and the treatment plan that I can recommend, will they still be satisfied with their head of hair in 5 or 10 years from now?
Let’s examine in detail what these two questions mean:
1. The level of satisfaction and happiness the patient shows at their 12 month check-up directly relates to the variables that affect outcome. This means that if they have had a large number of grafts (such as 3500 grafts instead of 2000 grafts) placed into a moderate sized area; they have thick hair diameter that is wavy; Existing hairs still remain within the thinning region to complement the transplanted hairs and treating the thin area now gives them a complete head of hair, their satisfaction level will be at a 10/10.
However if the patient had 2000 grafts placed into the same area; Their hair diameter was naturally fine, and it was already known that they really would have needed 4000 grafts to come out looking complete, they are more likely to have an overall satisfaction level of around 6/10. The patient would certainly look better than before but when comparing themselves to the before and afters of patients that have naturally thicker hair and bigger surgeries in the vicinity of 4000-5000 grafts, they would feel a little let down. So point 1 basically indicates how many hair transplant variables work in their favour.
Point 2: Whether or not the hair transplant patient will still be satisfied in 5 or 10 years from now comes down to their ongoing rate of hair loss. If for example the patient is 24 years old and already within the moderate to advanced stages of hair loss, they may be deemed suitable for surgery by the Doctor. The surgeon may determine that the patient requires 4500 grafts and that he can comfortably obtain this graft number in one session. Therefore based on this the Doctor can feel very confident that the patient will be happy with their result after 12 months have elapsed. However due to the fact a large amount of hair was already lost by the age of 24, it indicates that significantly more is due to follow in the future. At this rate of shedding how much will theylose by the time they are 30, 35 or 40 years of age? How long will it be before the remaining regions thin out and they require a second transplant?
In this scenario ongoing Hair loss treatment in the form of finasteride or dutasteride is essential to maintain long term happiness. As these medications have been proven to minimize shedding in more than 90% of users, they are a great way to delay (or possibly to prevent) the need for a second hair transplant in the future.
So in conclusion, is ongoing medication recommended after hair transplant surgery? The answer is YES in most cases. This is because the amount of hair a hair loss sufferer can experience during their lifetime is way more than the amount of permanent hair they have available within their donor region to replace through repeated hair transplants.
If you are to ever have a hair transplant you need to also ask yourself whether you want to feel happy for a short time or a long time after the procedure. If you want to remain happy for many years after investing a large amount of capital into your hair transplant, then the recommendation would be to use ongoing medication to remain looking and feeling great as much as possible.