Hair Transplant Surgery and Graft Counts

When considering hair transplant surgery, patients often receive quotes for ever higher numbers of grafts. This can be extremely confusing for the patient, and many surgeons are concerned that these numbers can be misleading. The advances in the science of hair transplant surgery have enabled physicians to harvest and then transplant larger numbers of grafts than just a decade prior. It is not uncommon to read of “mega-sessions” consisting of 2000 to 7000 grafts.

About Hair Transplant Surgery

The procedure of performing a hair transplant surgery is a very delicate and precise one. Each step of the process requires cooperation between the surgeon and his team of nurses and technicians. Each follicular unit, or graft, must be handled delicately to ensure their survival. The process is time-consuming and intricate. A large number of grafts may take between 10 to 14 hours to transplant.

Each follicular unit consists of either one, two, or sometimes three hairs. It is rare that a follicular unit contains more than three. The human scalp is composed of 80 to 85% two and three hair units, and 15 to 20% single hair units. Inflated hair graft counts are often accomplished by splitting the two and three hair grafts into single units. While this may increase the graft count, it is important to understand that this does not increase the number of hairs. It can also damage the graft, causing it to die off, and it will also decrease the density of the transplanted hair, resulting in a sparse and thin result. At times, a skilled surgeon may use more single grafts as part of the overall design of the transplant.

What is a Reasonable Graft Count?

Most doctors will agree that a graft count of 2500 to 3000 is a fair and safe amount to harvest. When harvesting donor hair, a thin strip of skin is cut away. Using a larger strip for a larger number of grafts can result in a larger scar and poor healing. Grafts can be damaged by the process of cutting the follicular unit, causing graft failure and decreased density. Counts above 3500 could very likely mean that a wide strip of donor hair is being removed or that grafts are split.

When consulting with a hair transplant clinic or surgeon, don’t be impressed by quotes of high graft numbers. The surgeon should be able to use mathematical formulas to justify your need for that number of grafts. The quotes you receive should be very similar when dealing with a reputable surgeon.

Tips for the Best Results

Every one of us has a limited amount of suitable donor hair, so wasting any is not an option. Be sure that you speak to the doctor that is performing your surgery and ask how he arrived at the graft count he is quoting you. Getting a high quality transplant with the appropriate number of grafts to produce natural looking results is your end goal. Don’t be swayed by high graft counts.