Can a Hair Transplant Be Carried Out More Than Once?

If you’ve had a successful hair transplant, congratulations! We know how life changing and confidence boosting a hair transplant can be. However, if you have a hair transplant when you’re very young, say in your twenties, you may notice your original balding spot spreading. This means that the area you had hair follicles transplanting into looks great, but the surrounding area may start to thin.

This may not always happen just because you were young when you had your hair transplant either. If you have unpredictable hair loss, or your hair loss has simply reached a wider area, you may notice an area of thinning hair, spreading out from the original hair transplant site.

Whatever the case, don’t worry. It’s perfectly common and natural for someone to have more than one hair transplant. After all, the first one made you feel great, so why not go for a second?

It’s All About Strong Donor Follicles

How many hair transplants you can have will of course depend greatly on the amount of ‘donor’ follicles you have. These are found round the back of the head, usually roughly level with the ears. This is known as the ‘safe donor area’ and it contains strong follicles that grow strong hairs, that are unaffected by the hormones and genetic factors that cause hair loss. Your surgeon would’ve taken hair follicles from this region during your initial hair transplant.

We all have a set, finite amount of hair follicles, both strong ones and weaker ones. If your supply of strong donor follicles is low, or the safe donor area is small, then a second hair transplant might not be worthwhile. Our expert surgeons will be able to advise you, and will only ever carry out a hair transplant if they think it will be a success.

Aside from wanting a second hair transplant because your area of scalp that is naturally losing hair has widened, you may also be considering one due to:

  • Problems with hair density in the transplanted area
  • The transplanted hair is weak and beginning to fall
  • Your hair is suffering from ‘shock loss’ that doesn’t seem to be recovering
  • You’re not happy with your new hair line or you’re developing a ‘pluggy’ look
  • Your hair transplant has gone wrong

    So let’s take a look at each of these in more detail:

Hair Density

You may choose to have a second hair transplant if your original one left you with hair that is less ‘dense’ than your natural hair. This is often a natural consequence of harvesting healthy donor follicles from a small area at the back of the head, and transplanting them into a larger area of the scalp at the front of the head, potentially up to the crown. In the case that your surgeon thinks that you may inevitably need to return for a second hair transplant, this should be explained to you at the time.

A man in his teens or early twenties usually has around 100,000 hairs on his head. Usually, men that have hair transplants have already lost around half of these hairs by the time they notice their hair thinning and decide to take action. A successful harvest of hair follicles will usually consist of around 2,500 to 4,000 hairs. Too many more, and the donor area is at risk of looking patchy. So if you think about it, 2,500 to 4,000 hairs to cover a much larger area that had many thousands more hairs, it’s going to be fairly common that men require a second hair transplant due to hair density issues.

Hair Taken from Weak Hair Follicles

We’ve seen patients coming to us seeking advice on a second hair transplant because the donor follicles from the first hair transplant were weak. Taking hair follicles from outside of the safe donor area will inevitably result in a substandard hair transplant. This is because these follicles, and their resulting hairs, are weak and susceptible to the hormonal and genetic risk factors for hair loss.

Transplanting these weaker follicles simply transfers the problem – the follicles will still be affected by hair loss risk factors, even though they’ve been moved up the scalp. The transplanted hair will follow the same pattern, and begin to thin and fall out, causing disappointment and upset.

An experienced and expert surgeon will be able to tell where the strongest donor site on the scalp is, and avoid using weaker follicles from outside of this area.

As tempting as it might be, avoid asking your surgeon to just take as many follicles as possible. This is counterintuitive. Our surgeons simply wouldn’t risk anything other than taking follicles from a strong site, but other, less honourable surgeons might.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are only so many follicles that can be successfully transplanted into each square centimetre of your scalp. The last thing you need is too many that then die off because there’s too much competition for the nutrient rich blood supply that keeps them healthy and strong. Transplanting too many follicles can also negatively affect the healthy hairs that may still be growing in the transplanted area, another risk factor that you want to avoid.

Shock Loss that Isn’t Recovering

Although a hair transplant procedure is performed as gently as possible, the newly transplanted follicles will go through something called ‘shock loss’. This is because the delicate follicles are in ‘shock’ from being removed from the scalp and put back in again. It’s perfectly normal, and seems to affect women more than men. Shock loss involves the loss of newly transplanted hairs within a couple of weeks of having a hair transplant.

You may be alarmed at seeing all those new hairs you sat so patiently to achieve, just falling out. But rest assured that after a number of months, things should settle down and new hairs will begin to grow, that will stay put.

It’s uncommon for shock loss not to sort itself out, but if you’re worried, then make an appointment to see your surgeon again.

Your Hairline and ‘Plugs’ After Hair Transplant Surgery

A common reason for having a second hair transplant is being unhappy with the hairline achieved from the first one. It might be too far back, or have an unnatural shape. The best surgeons will work with you to avoid this happening, and to make sure you’re happy with the intended result before starting. But there are some instances when this isn’t the case.

Similarly, if during your first hair transplant it wasn’t possible to treat the complete area of balding, then you may seek a subsequent hair transplant. Talk to your surgeon about how you’d like your hair line extended.

A hair transplant cannot ‘cure’ hair loss. This means that you will continue to lose your existing hair from the top, front and sides of the scalp. Hair successfully transplanted will stay in place as it’s come from genetically stronger donor follicles. Over time, this can result in visible ‘hair plugs’, where the natural hair has been lost, but the donor hair has remained. A second hair transplant can help to fix this, if you have enough donor follicles left.

Hair Transplants That Have Gone Wrong

With all the best intentions in the world, you may have found yourself in the hands of a non-expert. You may have been tempted by a cheap price, or by glossy advertising materials and a fancy clinic without much else to back them up. It happens. If your hair transplant has gone wrong, or you’re disappointed with your hair transplant, we may still be able to help.

Our expert hair surgeons and transplant teams have helped many men by carrying out corrective hair transplants.

Whatever your reason for wanting another hair transplant, they are perfectly valid. You deserve to look and feel good, so make an appointment with one of expert hair surgeons today.