If you are considering hair restoration surgery, you (hopefully) are conducting careful research. For this reason, we at Tempus Hair Restoration are glad that you’ve arrived here, and are reading this article. Dr. Marco Barusco – founder and Chief Medical Officer of Tempus Hair Restoration – is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and the benefits of his experience with those seeking treatment for hair loss.
Dr. Barusco addresses misconceptions about hair transplant procedures that he frequently hears from potential patients and others during consultations or conversations. This article is based on the video – “10 Common Misconceptions About Hair Transplant Surgery” – that Dr. Barusco produced for his YouTube channel, Hair Loss Medical Advice.
“I see a lot of patients here in the office that have all of these wrong ideas and preconceived notions about hair transplant surgery that either they got from the internet or some other source,” says Dr. Barusco. “I want to make sure we clear the air.”
Dr. Barusco ranks the 10 most common misconceptions as follows:
Number 10: Hair Transplantation is a Treatment for Hair Loss
The reasoning behind this misconception is understandable. A person experiencing hair loss receives a transplant, which covers balding areas of the scalp with hair. However, the procedure itself isn’t a treatment.
“A treatment is really the medications that we will recommend for you, depending upon your situation, that will help you control your hair loss over time,” says Dr. Barusco. While a hair transplant procedure aesthetically turns back the clock, a regimen of ongoing treatment with medications – for male and female patients – is necessary to slow or prevent the progression of future loss. Such established medical treatments as minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) and finasteride (brand name Propecia) are typically prescribed for long-term stabilization.
Number Nine: One Hair Transplant Procedure is All That You Will Ever Need
“That is very, very wrong, and you should not expect it,” says Dr. Barusco. “When I counsel my patients, I always discuss the possibility or the likelihood of more transplants in the future because hair loss is progressive. What you see today on your scalp is not going to be the same in 10, 20 or 30 years.”
Referring to the first misconception covered, Dr. Barusco reiterates that the purpose of prescribing medications is to slow the progression of hair loss, thereby increasing the time between transplant procedures.
“But it’s safe to assume that if you are experiencing hair loss and facing a transplant, you’re probably going to be needing more as you get older.”
Number Eight: FUE Transplants Are Scarless Procedures
The popular follicular unit excision (FUE) procedure is performed by harvesting each individual follicular unit through microscopic circular incisions on the scalp. Although one main advantage of the FUE is that it allows the patient to have short hair at the back of the head because the donor area appears unaffected, it does produce some scarring.
“Every time you poke the skin with something, you’re going to leave a mark,” says Dr. Barusco. “So while FUE procedures nowadays are very advanced, and we use very, very small punch diameters so the incisions are really tiny – even in the best situations, if you look close, you may see some little dots along your donor zone. They may be very hard to spot, and you can certainly shave your hair a lot shorter with a FUE than you ever could with a strip [follicular unit transplantation, or FUT] because there is no linear scar. The eye catches a line much easier than it catches seeing little dots here and there. But FUE procedures are not scarless at all, and you should be aware of that.”
Number Seven: You Don’t Need Medications to Treat Your Hair Loss
During your consultation with a hair transplant surgeon, be wary if he or she doesn’t bring up the need for ongoing treatment with medication to prevent or postpone the progression of hair loss.
“There are situations that if you don’t need to treat it, I’ll tell you. But more often than not, I’m going to recommend that patients do medications or medical therapy so that you don’t lose more hair, so you don’t have to see me every year for more surgery. I’d love to see you, but I want to preserve your hair, too!”
Number Six: FUE Procedures Are Non-invasive
Every surgical procedure is invasive. However, Dr. Barusco has found that many of his potential patients have a different concept of the word. During consultation, some have mentioned that they want the FUE because – as they understand it – the FUT is much more invasive than the FUE, which they consider to be non-invasive.
“The FUE is still a surgical procedure, so patients will experience some discomfort and downtime, and will still have to go through the healing process.”
As for whether the FUE is a less invasive procedure than the FUT, Dr. Barusco was curious enough to do his own calculations – with results that may be surprising! He found that by comparing a thousand grafts harvested by the FUT method and the same number harvested by the FUE, the actual surface area of skin and scalp involved was 100 hundred times larger in an FUE procedure than on the FUT.
Number Five: The Strip Method is Outdated or Antiquated
Dr. Barusco is emphatic in busting this particular misconception. “I’ve been using the strip method for almost 25 years. Some patients are still much better candidates for strips than they are for the FUE. As a surgeon, I can tell you what I would recommend for your situation. If you prefer the other method, that’s fine – as long as I think you’re a good candidate. The FUT provides very good growth, so it is a well-established surgery – not antiquated whatsoever.”
Number Four: I Can Always Have Another Transplant, So Let’s Go for Broke
Dr. Barusco returns to the fact that each person has only a finite amount of donor hair available for transplantation. Add to this the likelihood that you will need more than one hair transplant procedure in your lifetime. Quoting Dr. Barusco from our blog post – “Why Do Some Hair Transplants Fail?”:
“As hair transplant surgeons, we have to paint a beautiful picture, but we only have so much ink to do it. If we don’t utilize that ink in the best way we can, you’re not going to be happy and I’m not going to be happy. So that involves some compromise. While we can treat an area really well, we can’t treat the whole entire area of hair loss with the donor hair that you have. I need to explain that to you so you understand, and can make your decision.”
An ethical hair transplant surgeon will plan for your future treatments and transplants. Otherwise, the coverage you may want today could wind up costing you in the long term with a depleted donor area from which no more follicles can be harvested, and advancing bald areas that cannot be addressed.
Number Three: All Hair Transplant Doctors Are the Same
As is true for every surgeon in every specialty, hair transplant surgeons have widely varying levels of experience and skill. Even among those in the upper echelon of each, some – like Dr. Barusco – have additional credentials and positions within the medical profession. For example, Dr. Barusco is Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Central Florida College of Medicine.
“Hair transplant surgery is a very particular type of surgery. It behooves you to look for someone who has experience. That only comes with time, and everyone has to practice. But when I trained, I didn’t start doing surgery right away. I did a fellowship program, so I was working under my training doctor until I felt comfortable to go out on my own. And that’s how it’s done for every surgical training in every specialty.”
Number Two: Every Hair Transplant Procedure is Painful
While everyone experiences pain differently – with some people having higher or lower thresholds for tolerance – Dr. Barusco says that a good hair transplant surgeon will be able to provide a comfortable experience for the patient during surgery, as well as control post-surgical discomfort. Having lectured about anesthesia techniques during the 2021 International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) 29th Annual World Congress, Dr. Barusco has developed different mixtures of anesthetics to deliver the best possible effect for his patients.
“I’ve had patients talk about pain they experienced during a previous hair transplant by other surgeons. Things can happen, and I’m not going to judge anyone, but a hair transplant should be pretty pain-free. We have good anesthetics and medications to help you relax, so it should be a good experience.”
Number One: Hair Transplant Surgery is So Simple That Anybody Can Do It
“This goes back to the misconception that every surgeon is the same,” says Dr. Barusco. “It takes a long time to master all the nuances and details of a hair transplant procedure.”
Dr. Barusco tells of the interest he receives while teaching at plastic surgery conferences from surgeons who want to learn more about performing hair transplants. A subsequent visit with Dr. Barusco in his office typically leads them to reconsider.
“I inevitably hear from them, ‘I thought this was simple, but I probably won’t start doing this because there’s a lot of detail, a lot of things that can go wrong.’ And you won’t know about it until a year later, when the results show up. [Hair in the recipient site fully grows out.]
“It is not an easy procedure. In fact, it is one of the most complex procedures because there are so many variables: Taking the hair out of the scalp and putting it in its new recipient area. You need to visualize the results a year down the road, making sure you put the hairs in the right way so that you don’t traumatize the scalp too much, and that you account for variability over time. It’s a surgery that involves a lot of detail, so it’s not simple at all.”
Unfortunately, not all surgeons in other specialties reach the same conclusion. Too many have added hair transplant procedures as a lucrative revenue stream to their primary practice, relying on robotic devices and – typically – non-medical personnel to operate the device to harvest and implant hair follicles. Dr. Barusco’s insightful article – “The Truth Behind Advertising Devices Instead of Surgeons” – describes the risks of choosing such a practice for your hair replacement procedure.
Ultimately, choose your surgeon based on experience, results and integrity. Dr. Barusco’s long list of accomplishments, his notable artistic ability and his successful surgical team make Tempus Hair Restoration a renowned practice. Contact us to schedule your free virtual consultation. Dr. Barusco conducts every consultation himself, giving you the opportunity to learn your options in the comfort of your home – or any location, on any internet-enabled device.
Dr. Barusco conducts consultations in English, Spanish and Portuguese. For your greater convenience, Tempus Hair Restoration offers a two-night complimentary hotel stay to out-of-town clients who travel 100 miles or more to our Port Orange, Florida, surgical center. No matter how far the distance, we welcome the opportunity to help you on your hair restoration journey!