The Hair Loss Solution You Are Not Considering (But Should Be)

a man with hair loss

A man with hair loss | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

It started with NFL superstar New England quarterback Tom Brady: one day he was balding and the next day he wasn’t. OK, maybe it wasn’t the next day but he seemingly has a fuller head of hair now than he did a couple of years ago. We feel confident that it has nothing to with reverse aging, or that he somehow found the fountain of youth. He had a hair transplant.

Hair transplants are becoming increasingly popular among young men, once considered taboo and stigmatized, thanks to decades of bad plugs and unsightly scars. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery revealed a 27% increase in transplants in the U.S. since 2012, with patients putting down $2.5 billion for hair-restoration surgery annually. More than 80% of the increase comes from men seeking to thicken their thinning hair.

How do hair transplants work exactly? Doctors extract hair from the back of the rim of the head, because those follicles aren’t affected by hormones linked to baldness. They use follicular unit extraction (FUE), which allows single hair follicles to be removed from the scalp and placed elsewhere. Some doctors use a NeoGraft machine, which is a hand-held surgical device to extract the follicles. The results tend to look more natural than traditional transplants, because there is no cutting or scarring of the scalp. Sedatives and local anesthesia are administered, with recovery time ranging from seven to ten days.

a bald man

A bald man | Source: iStock

Expect mild tenderness and discomfort in the days following the transplant. Once the follicles are transplanted, they should continue to grow, as if it were your normal hair. Although the procedure yields great success, the results take about a year to fully show. Also, most patients have two to four transplants over their lifetime to either address additional hair loss or thicken areas of their hair. The cost is sure to leave a hole in your bank account: The cost of hair transplant surgery will run you anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000, depending upon the amount of hair that’s to be replaced, according to WebMD.

Hair transplants is not the only option for thinning hair, if you so choose to actually do something about it. What if you’re looking for something less expensive, or are on the fence about going through a medically invasive procedure, and are also unsure about what you desire out of permanent results? There is another option out there, although not as widely known but just as effective: non-medical hair replacement.

a bald man

A bald man | Source: iStock

The Cheat Sheet spoke with one of the top New York City hair replacement specialists Gloria Wan of Gloria Wan Hair Design about this highly exclusive and affordable service, with the cost of maintenance ranging from $60 to $300 per month.

This is not your grandpa’s hair piece. Here’s what Wan had to say:

The Cheat Sheet: Why go for hair replacement?

Gloria Wan: Non-surgical hair replacement is used for many reasons, from enhancing thinning hair, disguising baldness, permanent scars from fire and accidents, Alopecia, and many other medical-related issues, which help contribute to hair loss. It’s different from toupees, and other forms of attachments such as weaves, fusions, and other names that professionals may use to sound different. The weave is an older form of attachment, but does not feel natural to the touch for men if not done skillfully. 

The Cheat Sheet: It almost sounds like an art form, as so much of hair styling is, yet different. What is the procedure for men who are interested in this?

Gloria Wan: Yes, in a way. Whenever new clients consults with me on hair replacement, I consult in complete privacy. My consultation includes a pretrial demonstration with their hair colors, hair texture, and a hair style to compliment and enhance their thinning hair. A template is normally made for the correct size of the area for proper blending. The popular terms used for hair replacements will fall into the categories of: hair pieces, hair systems, hair units, and men’s wigs (these normally are used as a full head coverage or for medical purpose). My clients age starts around the mid 20s. Most though are business and professional men from the ages of 3o to 70, a few are older. The non hair replacement client chooses to use this method because it’s non invasive, and for those who do not like the idea of having surgery.

The Cheat Sheet: After a client decides to move forward with the hair replacement, how does it work and stay in place on the head?

Gloria Wan: The method is simple and held on the client’s head by using a two-sided tape, which is applied to the base of the unit, which is then matched to the area of the scalp to be covered, or instead of a two-sided tape the choice of miniature comb clips which can be attached to the existing hair. If this applies to the individual and if there isn’t enough hair for this method then two-sided tape works best. Both methods work best for temporary daily use, all methods need the correct instructions for all applications of attachments. A widely-used method of a longer stay is semi-permanent attachment, which will remain on the client’s head for several weeks without removal. This method can be maintained for those of a more active, physical lifestyle, and still have your hair.

Most younger men will choose this method as they are by nature more active. This method is known as bonding, which is a special adhesive adherent and requires the professional servicing every several weeks depending upon your scalp’s natural oil buildup. Before application, all first time users for this method should have a 24-hour patch test for the bonding adhesive to rule out any allergy or irritations.

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