If you’re experiencing permanent hair loss, whether due to male or female pattern baldness or another reason, then you’re probably looking for a treatment option that will permanently restore your hair. While there are many hair loss treatments out there, such as medication, most of them require ongoing treatment for results. The only permanent hair loss treatment is hair restoration surgery, AKA a hair transplant.
A hair transplant isn’t something you decide to get on a whim. It involves careful consideration and thought. One thing to consider before deciding to move forward is the cost of hair restoration surgery. What can you expect to pay and is it worth the cost?
How Much Do Hair Transplants Cost?
The cost of a hair transplant can vary widely depending on the patient, the surgeon, and the number of grafts a person needs to have transplanted. The average price of hair restoration surgery is $7,500. Some procedures cost considerably less, around $4,000, while others cost a lot more, around $15,000.
Since there is so much variation in the price of a hair transplant, it’s critical that you schedule a consultation with a hair restoration specialist before booking the surgery. A surgeon who specializes in hair transplants can give you an idea of whether or not you’re a good candidate for the surgery and can let you know which procedure they recommend.
They can also give you an idea of how extensive the surgery will be and what you can expect in terms of recovery. If you need to take a lot of time off from work and don’t have paid medical leave, that can also affect the overall price you’ll pay for a hair transplant.
Pricing of Different Hair Restoration Techniques
A surgeon is likely to use one of two restoration techniques during a hair transplant: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) or follicular unit extraction (FUE). There are pros and cons to each method and the one that’s right for one patient might not be right for another.
During FUT, the surgeon harvests or removes the donor hair follicles from the side or back of the scalp in one long strip. To remove the strip of the scalp, the surgeon makes an incision. The procedure does leave a long, thin scar, but it’s usually easy to conceal under longer hairstyles.
During FUE, the surgeon harvests the hair follicle groups one by one, either by hand or using a special robotic punch tool. FUE doesn’t leave a long scar like FUT. Instead, there are tiny pinpricks all over the harvested area, which are barely visible once fully healed.
FUE is often ideal for people who only want to restore a small amount of hair. It’s also recommended for candidates who don’t have a lot of donor hair in a single area and those who want to wear their hair very short. Since FUE often takes longer than FUT, it can have a higher price tag, as it demands more of the surgeon’s time.
On the other hand, FUT is often used when a patient wants a lot of coverage or has extensive hair loss. Since more follicles might need harvesting and transplanting during FUT, it might end up costing more than FUE.
Although hair restoration on the scalp is the most common type of hair transplant, some patients want to restore hair in other areas of the body, too. Body or facial hair restoration surgery can be in addition to a hair transplant or performed on its own.
Like hair restoration on the scalp, the cost of hair restoration elsewhere on the body is determined by the technique the surgeon uses, the size of the treated area, and the number of donor hair follicles needed. Two popular non-scalp hair restoration surgeries are beard hair transplants and eyebrow transplants.
Other Factors That Influence Hair Transplant Cost
Beyond the technique used, multiple other factors can influence the price tag of a hair transplant. Those factors include:
- The extent of the patient’s hair loss: How much hair you’ve lost and how much you want to have restored will affect the price of your surgery. The more hair follicles you’ve lost, the more follicles the surgeon will need to harvest, which means a longer and potentially more complicated surgery.
- The location of the surgery: The price of hair restoration can vary considerably based on where you choose to have the procedure. A surgeon in Florida will likely have different fees and rates than a surgeon in New York City. Surgeons based in countries outside of the U.S. often charge less than U.S.-based specialists but may not have the same level of skill.
- The surgeon’s qualifications and skill: A surgeon who has specialized training in hair restoration can charge more than someone who hasn’t specialized in the procedure. Also, a surgeon who comes highly recommended and has a proven record of success might be more expensive than someone without a good reputation.
- Anesthesia options: A surgeon will typically use a local anesthetic to numb the scalp during a hair transplant. The option of sedation is also available and will affect the cost of the procedure.
- Additional treatments you need: If you want to have additional hair restoration treatments, such as laser light therapy, along with your surgery, you can expect a higher price tag. The same is true if you decide to combine hair restoration surgery with forehead reduction surgery.
- Travel expenses: If there isn’t a qualified hair restoration surgeon in your local area, you might need to travel for your procedure. Travel expenses vary and can include the cost of a plane ticket, accommodations, and food.
- Recovery time and expenses: Although it’s not a fee you’ll pay for the surgery itself, it can be a good idea to calculate how much it’ll cost you to recover from hair restoration surgery. Some factors to consider include lost wages if you don’t have paid leave and the cost of hiring someone to look after your children or pets.
If you can’t afford to pay for hair restoration in full, upfront, don’t worry. There are multiple ways for you to finance the surgery and break down the price into more affordable monthly payments.
One option is to apply for healthcare financing, through a company like Prosper. Healthcare financing companies can let you know right away if you’re approved for a loan. The loans don’t require collateral and usually have a lower interest rate than a credit card or personal loan.
When considering healthcare financing, have a good idea of how much you’ll need to borrow. You can get an estimate from your surgeon during your consultation.
It might be a good idea to borrow slightly more than the estimated cost, so you have money to cover any travel expenses or recovery-related expenses. If the surgery ends up costing more than expected, it’s nice to have a cushion. You can always repay the loan early if you borrow more than you end up needing.
If healthcare financing doesn’t appeal to you, you have a few other options for paying for your surgery. Depending on your credit history, you might be able to get a personal loan from your bank. Personal loans tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and let you repay over a fixed term, such as 60 months.
Alternatively, you can use a credit card to pay for your surgery. Just make sure to choose a card with a high borrowing limit, as you don’t want to go over the limit. It might be a good idea to open a card with a 0% introductory interest rate before your hair transplant, so you can make payments on the loan without having to pay interest.
If you don’t want to borrow money to pay for your hair transplant, you might consider taking on a side hustle, such as driving for Uber or working for TaskRabbit, to save up for the surgery.
Why Aren’t Hair Transplants Covered By Insurance?
You have a health insurance plan that you pay a monthly premium for. Why doesn’t it cover the cost of cosmetic treatments such as a hair transplant?
While there are exceptions to every rule, generally, health insurance only provides coverage for procedures that are deemed “medically necessary.” Surgery or other treatment would need to improve or restore a patient’s health to be covered by insurance.
For the most part, hair restoration is performed for purely cosmetic reasons. You might choose to have the surgery to improve your appearance or to feel more confident about how you look.
If there is a chance that you need hair restoration for medical reasons, you’d need to make the case with your insurance company before scheduling the procedure. They would need to review the details before making a decision. Often, insurance will only agree to pay for a surgical procedure if nothing else has worked.
Is It Worth The Cost?
You might worry that you’ll be perceived as vain or superficial if you spend thousands on hair restoration. But the reality is that plenty of people spend lots of money improving their appearance, whether they decide to use makeup, get injectables, or seek out plastic surgery.
You might also worry that the high upfront cost of the surgery isn’t worth it. While hair restoration can have a big price tag, it does offer a permanent fix to the problem.
If you decide to treat hair loss with over-the-counter options or medications, you’ll need to keep paying for those. Over time, the cost of non-surgical treatments can add up to be the same or even more than the cost of a hair transplant.
If you’re still on the fence about whether a hair transplant is worth it or not, it can be helpful to talk to people who have gone through the procedure. Learning about others’ experiences and whether they recommend it or not can help you decide for yourself.
Several factors affect the cost of a hair transplant, including the surgeon’s skill, the technique used, the location of the office, and the type of anesthesia you want.
When it comes to a hair transplant, the adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. A surgeon who charges fees that seem too good to be true might not have the skill or experience needed to do a good job. There are also safety concerns that come up when the surgery is too cheap.
Financing options are available to help you pay for a hair transplant, such as healthcare financing.
Other methods of treating hair loss include using topical medication, such as minoxidil, laser treatments, and oral medications. Non-surgical treatments are usually temporary and require ongoing treatment to be effective.
Insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost of hair restoration or any other surgery performed for cosmetic reasons. If you can demonstrate that the surgery is medically necessary, you might convince your insurance provider to cover it.
Usually, it’s not ideal to schedule hair restoration surgery at the first sign of hair loss. You might want to wait until the hair loss has advanced somewhat so your surgeon can get a clear idea of the hair loss pattern. Scheduling the surgery too early can mean that you need multiple procedures.