Punch Transplanting for Hair Loss

In punch transplanting, a plug containing hair follicles is removed from a part of the scalp where hair is more dense and transplanted to the treatment area. Hair transplantation has a high success rate as long as there is enough donor hair. This procedure does not have any long-term or major side effects.

Why choose punch transplanting for hair loss

The procedure is recommended for:

  • Men with male-pattern baldness.
  • Some women with female-pattern (genetic) hair loss.
  • A person who has lost some but not all hair as a result of burns or other scalp injuries. 

The procedure is not recommended for:

  • Women with a diffuse, or widespread, pattern of hair loss.
  • Patients lacking sufficient donor sites.
  • People who form keloid scars.

What you should know about punch transplanting for hair loss

Punch transplanting has been around since the early 1980s. Early techniques culled plugs of 15 to 35 hairs, leaving large wounds on the scalp and giving transplanted areas an unnatural cornrow appearance. Some of the culled follicles often were severed in the process. Many of today’s hair restoration patients seek corrections of these early plug transplants.

Standard punch transplanting has evolved greatly since then, with doctors now using more precise methods to cull Follicular Units, resulting in more successful transplants as well as less scarring.

Candidates must have healthy hair growth at the sides and back of the scalp to serve as donor sites. Hair color, condition and texture also are considerations.

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Wide scarring.
  • Follicle grafts won't "take."
  • Unnatural look, especially if grafted hair lies next to a patch that continues to thin out; additional surgery may be required in this situation.

Estimated cost

The average cost for punch transplanting therapy can range from a few thousand to several thousand dollars depending on the severity of the condition and desired results. Since most medical insurance companies consider punch transplanting therapy a cosmetic procedure, it is usually not covered, except in special cases.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS doctor will review the patient’s medical history. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. Patients should:

  • Avoid smoking two weeks before surgery.
  • Prepare to have someone drive home since most procedures are outpatient.
  • Prepare to take it easy for a day or two following surgery, with assistance if necessary.
  • Be aware that local anesthesia and, in some cases, sedation will be administered.

What to expect after the procedure

Following treatment, patients should expect:

  • The success and amount of hair coverage on a treated area depends on how many hair follicles remain healthy after being transplanted.
  • Often hair will fall out of a transplanted follicle, but a new hair will eventually grow to take its place.
  • They will probably need several surgeries to get the hair coverage they want.
  • Healing between surgeries usually takes several months.