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3 Hair Transplant Failures + Why and How Often do they happen?

sad man after his hair transplant fails

When it comes to medical operations, such as hair transplant surgeries, there is no room for failure.

But it happens.

Once in a while, you’ll hear from people around you or just read from the internet about someone who had his 3rd hair transplant because the first two were unsuccessful.

Such cases should not exist, and can actually be avoided easily by the expert physicians and responsible patients who know what they’re doing.

In this article, I’ll go over:

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll know everything to ensure the success of your hair transplant.

Let’s start by answering a question we’ve already answered, but in more detail:

Is it possible for a hair transplant to fail?

Yes, hair transplantation can fail.

And in fact, based on your perspective, every hair transplantation fails to an extent.

After every hair transplant surgery, you lose a certain amount of the grafts that were planted. So we need to define “success” and “failure”:

What makes the whole operation a failure or a success is basically graft survival rate after 6 months to a year. You can consider your hair transplantation a success if the majority of the planted grafts survived and your hair looks the way you wanted it to be; natural.

And of course, if the majority of grafts didn’t survive after the surgery, and your hair looks the same as or worse than before, it can be considered a failure.

What is the success rate of hair transplants?

From my experience, I can say that on average 95% of the hair restoration surgeries are successful, with restored hairlines and high percentages of surviving grafts.

However, this rate can be much, much lower in clinics that perform outdated treatments with inexperienced surgeon and staff.

And on the contrary, the hair transplant success rate can go up to 99% in hair transplant clinics with expert staff and high-tech equipment.

So you actually determine the risk you take when you’re choosing the clinic you’re going to have your hair restoration surgery in.

What causes a failure in hair transplantation?

As I’ve said, the success or the failure of your hair transplant will depend on the grafts that survive after a while.

And the survival rate of the planted grafts is determined by 3 main actors in all types of hair transplant:

3 main reasons behind hair transplant failures

1- Patient Eligibility

Are you eligible to get a hair transplant?

Not everyone that loses hair is eligible for hair transplantation surgeries, yet, some clinics are either unable to determine eligibility, or just ignore it to do the operation and get paid.

If you’re not the right candidate for hair transplant, the result of your hair transplant surgery will most likely not be the way you’d expect it, and there’s a high chance your planted grafts will fall out.

Here are some situations where the patient isn’t eligible to have a hair transplant surgery:

  • The balding area is too large, requires too many individual follicles,
  • The donor area is too small, limits the number of hair graft that can be harvested,
  • Patients with active scarring alopecia,
  • Younger patients with early, evolving balding (if the hair loss is not stable, a second hair transplant surgery would be needed soon after the initial surgery.)
A hair transplant patient with a large balding and limited donor areas

2- Physician and/or the Clinic

It is common for clinics to employ inexperienced physicians with sometimes no medical background to do hair transplant surgeries.

And it is also common for these inexperienced physicians to adopt out-of-date or simply wrong and harmful medical procedures.

After a surgical procedure full of unhealthy practices, it’s almost certain for you to lose many of the planted grafts and even have an unnatural hairline or visible scars.

Some failures that are caused by the hair restoration surgeons and/or the clinics are as follows:

  • No doctor involvement in the surgery: Technicians conducting the operation without supervision can’t deal with complications.
  • Trying to plant too many grafts: Which causes trauma on the scalp and increases the chance of inflammation, necrosis, tissue rejection, and future hair loss.
  • Inefficient use of tools: The graft harvesting and plantation process should be done carefully by a well-educated, experienced team with physician supervision. In some clinics, for example, the punching tools that are used to harvest grafts can be bigger than they’re supposed to be to make the process easier for the applier, which ends up leaving scars over the donor area and increases the chance of failure where it’s planted.
  • Ignoring the latest technology: New technologies for hair transplant surgeries are invented every year to increase efficiency and success rate. Most clinics, to cut on costs, ignore these technologies and keep going through with the process in outdated methods.
  • Unnatural insertion of the grafts: Physicians might insert grafts in the wrong direction, resulting in an unnatural look.
  • Too deep or too shallow insertions of the grafts: Physicians, when inserting grafts, might go too deep or too shallow. In either case, the success rate decreases significantly.
  • Bad planning of the hairline and the insertion of grafts: Physicians might not be able to consider the best post-op cosmetic possibility before and during the operation, because of their lack of experience. This can result in an unnatural-looking hairline.
  • Bad storage of grafts: You can often encounter clinics that store harvested grafts in physiological saline solutions, which is an unhealthy practice. To prevent any damage to grafts, they should be stored in proper liquids under proper conditions.
Old, improper, and cheap clinic for hair transplant in Turkey

3- You (pre & post-operation care)

In cases where the patient was eligible for a hair transplant, and the experienced physician had a successful operation, the failures are most likely caused by you, the patient.

The planted hair follicles, after a successful operation, will stay in your scalp as healthy hair follicles, as long as you don’t give them another reason to fall out.

For example, the success rate of hair transplants significantly reduces in the patients who practice heavy smoking and excessive drinking after their surgery. If you want to improve the chance of your success, you’ll need to give your body everything that it needs to make the planted grafts survive.

A proper diet full of healthy proteins, and staying away from everything that can cause hair loss should be enough to maximize the survival rate of your new grafts and promote further hair growth.

You can use our Care Assistant to learn about everything you should and shouldn’t do after a hair transplant surgery.

Hair Transplantation Personalized Pre- and Post-Care Instructions on Care Assistant

3 common ways hair transplantations can fail

So you’ve chosen a clinic without an expert staff, or you don’t know if you’re even eligible for a hair transplant.

What can you expect if you’re unlucky?

Here are 3 of the most common ways hair transplants can end up being failed:

1- Losing the planted grafts

In most failed cases, the patient loses the planted grafts after a short or long period of time.

If the physician doesn’t approach the patient’s condition with a holistic approach and performs a poor operation on the planting area, planted follicles will be lost after a while.

Why can this happen?

  • Treating patients with early, evolving balding (Wrong patient selection)
  • Trying to plant too many grafts (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
  • Too deep or too shallow insertions of the grafts (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
  • Unhealthy habits such as excessive smoking and active drinking (Poor post-operation care)
Long-term Hair Transplant Failure

2- Unnatural hairlines that look odd

The whole point of going through with a hair transplant surgery is to restore your natural looks, maybe even improve it.

Nobody wants a full head of hair with a twist of an unnatural-looking hairline.

Poor planning and poor practices can result in hairlines that look bad.

Why can this happen?

  • Bad planning of the hairline (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
  • Unnatural insertion of the grafts (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
Unnatural Hairline after Hair Transplant

3- Visible scars in the donor area

In a hair transplant, the front section of your head shouldn’t be the only part you care about.

The back of your head, generally, is also a subject of the operation, grafts that will be planted on the front of your head are harvested from here.

An inefficient harvesting process can result in permanent scars in this area.

Why can this happen?

  • Overharvesting donor hair due to large balding area (Wrong Patient Selection)
  • Ignoring the skin tissue of the patient (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
  • Inefficient use of harvesting tools (Inexperienced Physician and Clinic)
  • Use of the FUT Technique
    (Which results in linear scar marks)
Overharvested Donor Area

Going for success: how do I make sure my hair transplantation doesn’t fail?

Now that we’ve seen all the reasons for hair loss and the results, let’s discover how you can maximize your hair transplant success rate.

Of course, it all starts with the big choice:

Triple-check the experience and expertise of your clinic

Don’t hold back.

Make sure your clinic is experienced in hair and skin disorders, especially hair transplantations.

Ask for social proof, consult past patients, check the legitimacy of the clinic online. Ask questions, learn how the process works.

If anything makes you doubt the clinic, and they can’t address these doubts, look for another clinic.

And make sure your physician knows what they’re doing.

Speaking of the physician:

Work with a Dermatologist

Not all hair transplant surgeons can be called “hair transplant doctors.”

Let me explain:

Dermatologists specialize in skin and hair disorders, and they’re the ones who should be doing hair transplantation surgeries for a successful outcome.

As a dermatologist, I can assure you that there is always room for doubt if the physician you’re working with isn’t a dermatologist. It’s likely that they won’t be able to understand the reasons behind

Here’s why a dermatologist is your best option for hair transplant surgeries.

Be ready to change a few habits

As I’ve said, if your hair transplant surgery went great, you’ll be the one that determines the success of the hair transplantation.

You need to give your body everything it needs to help it keep the transplanted hair follicles.

These include:

  • Avoiding harmful habits such as excessive smoking and drinking,
  • Eating balanced meals with plenty of raw vegetables and fresh herbs,
  • Start regular exercising, even if it’s light.

Why UnitedCare?

We’ve started our own dermatology clinic as two dermatologists who wanted to provide patients with a better way to restore their natural look.

In contrast to other clinics, cheap or expensive, we approach each patient with a holistic approach only applicable by dermatologists, to understand the reasons for their hair loss, how we can help them with hair transplantation, and what they should do following the hair restoration procedure to improve their success rates.

Affordable hair transplant costs, a holistic approach, experienced dermatologists on-site…

Read more about how we take hair transplantation to the next level at UnitedCare, or contact us for a free consultation:

Maximize the success rate of your Hair Transplantation.

Restore your natural look with a Dermatologist:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why would a hair transplant fail?

Hair transplantation can fail due to 3 main reasons: selection of ineligible patients, indifference or ignorance of the physicians and/or the clinics, or the patient’s lack of self-care before and after the surgery.

What is the failure rate of hair transplants?

Although there is no clear data surrounding the success of hair transplants, the rate of failure for hair transplantation surgeries is most likely under 5% and even less if the physician is experienced and knowledgeable.

What happens if a hair transplant fails?

A hair transplant failure means that most of the grafts planted didn’t survive and fell out. In this case, hair loss still remains visible and another hair transplantation would be required.

Do Hair Transplants last forever?

The transplanted hair follicles are usually much more long-lasting than your regular hair since they keep their DHT resistance property in the newly transplanted area. So yes, a successful hair transplant is a permanent solution that lasts forever if the operation and the follow-up are done right.

Does stress affect transplanted hair?

Stress is a factor that highly contributes to hair loss in the first place; so it would be natural to assume that high levels of ongoing stress especially right after hair transplant surgeries would affect the success of your hair transplant.

What age is good to get a hair transplant?

Anything above 25 years or older is perfect for getting a hair transplant if your alopecia has settled; meaning it isn’t aggressively progressing at the moment. For patients younger than 25 or who have aggressive alopecia, medications and remedies are suggested since hormone levels are not settled yet at that age.

Do hair transplants look natural?

If the hair transplant procedure is executed by an experienced surgeon, it will definitely look natural and even experts couldn’t understand the existence of transplantation. However, it also depends on the method used. If you’re going for the DHI, a modified version of the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) technique that’s much more advanced and precise, you may end up with natural results but the maximum number of transplanted grafts is limited to 3000-3500 in a session. Going for FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), however, might decrease the natural appearance of the end result since it leaves wide scars on the donor area.

Are body hair transplants successful?

For hair transplant procedures that use body hair instead of hair from the scalp, the success rate might go lower than normal, simply because the donor grafts are not the exact match of your scalp hair.

Utkan Kızıltaç, MD

Chief Physician and Dermatologist Hair Transplant Surgeon of UnitedCare, a dermatology clinic helping patients become the best version of themselves.

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