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How Many Grafts Do I Need for Full Hair Coverage?

The majority of people who experience hair loss often ask, “How many grafts do I need for a hair transplant?” and “Will I need more than one session for a hair transplant?” to learn what can be done to restore the volume of their thinning or balding hair. Yet, we observe that there are various misinterpretations about the hair transplant procedure, which often come to light during the consultation to assess the hair loss pattern and the needs of our patients, particularly with regards to the number of grafts to be harvested and transplanted. Therefore, as of Dr. Serkan Aygin Clinic, we believe that we should help our patients have a clear idea about how the extent of hair loss is measured and discuss whether the number of grafts specified online is applicable or plausible for your case as well.

It is essential to ensure that we are on the same page when we say that all hair transplant methods involve the removal of tiny punch grafts from your hair-bearing scalp skin, as patients oftentimes misunderstand the concept of hair graft surgery.

What is a Hair Graft?

A graft is a medical term used to describe a piece of healthy tissue removed from your body and transplanted to repair another damaged or weakened part in your body. In hair transplantation, hair grafts are small scalp tissues consisting of a few (1-4) hair follicles. Accordingly, you may wonder how does graft surgery work in hair transplant.

Hair transplant was developed in connection to the “theory of donor dominance” proposed by Dr. Norman Orentriech in 1952. According to this theory, ‘donor dominance’ indicated that the balding recipient site would assume the characteristics of the follicular unit grafts extracted from the healthy tissues in the donor area. In other words, the balding recipient site would begin to grow healthy hair once again after hair follicles are grafted from the donor site. The theory of donor dominance is partially refuted, as Orentriech suggested that donor follicles assume the characteristics of the donor site, but data obtained from patients show that the recipient site retains its own characteristics. However, eventually grafting made it possible to restore hair.

Now that we’ve said all of these, you don’t have to do the maths like “1 graft = how many hair” to figure out a hair transplant cost per graft estimation, as the number of hair follicle contained in hair follicles, and follicular density in one graft may vary depending on several factors explained below.

  • Race

A 2017 study conducted on hair density in different ethnicities finds that race has a significant impact on hair density, as it remarks that Caucasians have the highest hair density and African descents have the lowest.

  • Age

The average follicular density of your hair will progressively decrease with age. The average follicle density is recorded to be approximately 1135/cm2 at birth, while this number drastically decreases to 615/cm2 at the third decade of one’s life.

  • Hair Color

Hair colour is found to be a significant factor in determining follicle density. While red haired people have approximately 90,000 scalp hair follicles, black haired people have approximately 108,000 hair follicles on their head, and this number can increase up to 140,000 in brown- and blonde-haired people

  • Individual Characteristics

Obviously, no two people are the same, therefore individual differences such as the size of your scalp may affect your follicle density.

When you take all these factors determining the hair follicle density into account, you will notice that there won’t be precise answers for questions like “how many grafts needed for crown?” because depending on your follicular density, how much of your scalp would be covered with a given number of grafts could change. However, there are methods to offer an approximate estimation modelled on hair loss types observed in patients suffering from male-pattern hair loss.

Hamilton-Norwood Scale

The Hamilton-Norwood Scale is a classification system used to determine the extent of hair loss in seven stages in people experiencing androgenetic alopecia . It was introduced by Dr. James Hamilton in 1951, after having observed the male-pattern hair loss in over 300 men. Later, it was updated by O’Tar T. Norwood in the 1970s, and it’s been referred to as the Norwood Scale. It should be kept in mind that the Norwood scale gives a perspective about how many grafts could be needed for a hair restoration operation with adequate density, but the numbers given are approximate numbers that disregard your physiological differences, such as whether the number of grafts physically fit your scalp or whether you have enough grafts.

After all, the grafts to be obtained from the donor area aren’t infinite. In other words, if you wonder “how many grafts do I need for full hair coverage?”, by looking at the scale, you may calculate that approximately 4000-5000 grafts are necessary for a front to back full hair coverage, but eventually, your surgeon will tell you the real, physically feasible and necessary number.

Norwood Scale Number of Grafts Crown Area
1 0 N/A
2 500 – 800
2a 1400-2200 Centre
3 1600-2400 Front and temples
3 vertex 1800-2600 2000-3200 Front and crown
3a 2000-3000 Front and crown
4 2200-3400 3400-3800 Front and crown
4a 2400-3600 Front
5 2600-3800 3800-4500 Front and crown
5a 2800-4200 4600-5600 Front and crown
6 3000-4600 5000-6400 Front and crown
7 3200-5000 5000-6400 Front and crown

How many hair can be extracted from donor area?

There are a few important aspects online hair transplant graft calculator applications oftentimes do not tell you. The number of grafts to be extracted from your donor area is not infinite. For example, though we can say that it is possible to harvest 5000-8000 grafts from the donor area of an average patient, as grafts are extracted with 40% – 50% density, usually surgeons do not extract grafts extensively. It is simply because patients may not have or need that many grafts. Therefore, it is essential for you to consult with your surgeon to learn how many grafts you need. Similarly, depending on the number of grafts needed, particularly in extensive procedures like full hair coverage with hair transplant, you need to discuss how many grafts in one session are possible for you. It’s because different techniques of hair restoration surgery allow different numbers of grafts to be transplanted in one session.

And finally, we notice that many patients associate a higher number of grafts with better results. This isn’t necessarily true, as the essential criteria should be that transplanted follicles survive and look natural and harmonious with your overall looks. People want to know “how much does 2500 grafts cover?” with a one-fits-all approach without having consulted a professional, but it is not technically possible to reach a conclusion on your own, without taking all of these factors into consideration. Therefore, as of Dr. Serkan Aygin Clinic, we highly suggest you get in touch with us to discuss your hair loss and provide you with the maximum graft transplant plan.