What is the Difference Between Hair Restoration and a Transplant?

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  • Written By: Marco Sumayao
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2019
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The main difference between hair restoration and a transplant is the method in which hair is replaced. Procedures in which hair is encouraged to grow on its own through medication and therapy are referred to as hair restoration, and a transplant is when new hair follicles are implanted into the patient's scalp. These follicles are taken from healthy donor cells and are meant to replace the patient's lost hair follicles. Another major difference between hair restoration and a transplant is that the former is generally non-invasive, whereas transplantation is a surgical procedure. Balding individuals usually choose restoration over transplantation for the greater accessibility, lower costs and decreased risk factors.

People deciding between hair restoration and a transplant will often choose the former, especially since the procedure can be performed at home. Among the many different types of hair restoration methods, topical medication is one of the most popular. This involves applying a cream that stimulates dormant roots in the scalp to grow hair, usually through a hormonal reaction. Oral medications work in a similar fashion, using hormonal reactions to stop hair loss and promote hair growth. Both topical and oral medications can easily be purchased at most drug stores.


Other forms of hair restoration involved periodic therapy sessions. These types of hair restoration treatment can range from hormone injections to laser therapy. Unlike hair restoration medication, these forms of therapy require specialized equipment and the assistance of a trained professional. Although success rates are generally higher than over-the-counter medication, periodic hair growth therapy is significantly more expensive. For many individuals, this distinction makes the decision between hair restoration and a transplant a more difficult one.

Hair transplants, on the other hand, are much more invasive. Also known as hair plugs, these involve getting healthy donor hair follicles and implanting them directly into the scalp. These hair implants are then stimulated into growing. Since the procedure utilizes follicles that are already healthy rather than nursing damaged follicles back to health, it tends to have the higher success rate between hair restoration and a transplant.

Transplantation of new hair follicles does have its risks, however. The scalp might reject the new follicles, or scalp cells can be damaged by a careless surgeon. This is often a major consideration for people trying to decide between hair restoration and a transplant, as the significantly higher costs of surgery do not guarantee hair growth. In the case of successful transplantations, though, the results are extremely impressive.


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