To kick-start our series, we will discuss the most influential factor in determining the success of the surgery: candidacy. Most people, dive head first (pun intended) into the procedure ignoring this leading step thinking since hair transplant belongs to cosmetics it consequently means it is for everyone. However, that is not the case. Hair transplantation is not for every smooth headed man or woman. It is essential to understand who is a good candidate for hair transplantation and who isn’t. The limitations occur for the safety of patients and to prevent future disappointments from unsuccessful results.
So, who is a good candidate for hair transplantation in Turkey?
The following factors are what mostly determines the eligibility of patients
1- Cause of hair loss
3- Quality of donor hair
4- Medical conditions
How do these factors affect the results?
Cause of hair loss
If the cause of hair loss is from scarring or trauma, the patient makes for a good candidate for hair transplant. This is because injuries from scarring or burns, if deep enough, can remove follicular units or entirely damage them. In cases like this, merely transplanting viable follicular units from another region to areas of hair loss will suffice. So, if a patient is suffering from hair loss due to scarring or burns, they make for a good candidate for hair transplantation.
Androgenic alopecia is the primary cause of hair loss in both men and women. It is also the cause of the notorious balding pattern in men. In androgenic alopecia, as the name suggests, hair loss due to androgens (male hormones). Follicular units, in some cases, can be sensitive to male hormones, this hypersensitivity causes the follicular units to shrink and gradually close over time. Surprisingly, however, androgen hypersensitivity in follicular units is mosaic throughout the scalp. The mosaicism explains the general male pattern hair loss.
Hairs in the back of the scalp are genetically built to be resistant to androgens, whereas hairs close to the hairline are not. Therefore, if a patient is suffering from androgenic alopecia, they make for a good candidate for hair transplantation. The transplanted hair will be dislocated from area resistant to androgens and relocated to areas of hair loss. This way, the strands are guaranteed to continue generating hair, as they cannot lose their androgen resistant properties.
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs when the hair is continuously experiencing a pulling force. The pulling can be a result of hairstyles, or anxiety induced habits. If patients put an end to these habits soon enough, they can naturally reverse the damage. However, if the practices continue beyond a certain threshold point, the damage will be permanent. In which case, the only solution to undo the damage is hair transplantation.
So, because viable follicular units can substitute the damaged hairs, patients suffering from permanent traction alopecia make for suitable candidates for hair transplantation.
Alopecia areata is hair loss that occurs due to an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system fights its cells without exception. This persistent attack does not discriminate between follicular units and causes total hair loss in the scalp. Therefore, if a patient is suffering hair loss due to Alopecia areata, they do not make for a good candidate for hair transplantation.
First of, they most likely will not have sufficient hair, secondly, even if they do the transplanted hairs will most likely fall off as well. Unless the underlying cause for hair loss is treated, hair transplantation is a failed attempt.
Sufficient donor hair destiny
The results of hair transplantation depend to a certain extent on the quality of donor regions. Donor regions are regions from where hairs are extracted and relocated to other areas. If patients do not have enough donor regions, they sadly, are not good candidates for hair transplantation.
Disorders that can be an obstacle are full androgenic alopecia, alopecia universalis, and alopecia totalis. The listed conditions result in a total hair loss with no donor regions to supply for bald areas.
Age is not a restriction to the surgery. However, the older the patient, the better the final results will be. This is because hair loss is a gradual process that takes time to stabilize. Receiving a hair transplant before the patter has steadied might not yield successful hair results. Sure, the transplanted hair will remain, but hair loss will spread to other areas pushing the patient for yet another hair transplantation. This is why we advise patients to wait until their hair loss has stabilized which is often after 23 years of age.
Medical conditions (Exclusive to Turkey)
As a generalization, there are only three categories of medical conditions that can prevent a patient from hair transplant surgery.
The first category belongs to the group of blood-borne infections. Bloodborne infections refer to contagious diseases that spread through blood to blood contact or body fluid to blood contact. Medically speaking, blood-borne diseases do not have any direct effect on the results. Therefore, a patient suffering from them may be eligible for transplantation elsewhere. However, in Turkey, they, unfortunately, do not make good candidates for hair transplantation. These disorders include but are not limited to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and HIV.
The second category is related to metabolic syndromes and homeostatic imbalances. This category refers to diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Metabolic syndromes can alter the healing rate of wounds and jeopardize the health of the patient. Hence, patients suffering from these diseases are not good candidates for hair transplantation.
Other disorders do not have a general category. Therefore, patients should discuss their case with their surgeon or doctor.
If the cause of hair loss in a patient stems from either androgenic alopecia, trauma (scarring or burns), or traction alopecia; the patients is a good candidate for hair transplantation. However, the donor hair should be of high quality, and the hair loss should have stabilized into a particular pattern. If you find out you are indeed a good candidate for the surgery, it might be time to move on to the next phase of the process: learning how to choose the right clinic and surgeon for hair transplant.