Hair Transplants for African American Hair

Hair transplants are feasible for many people, regardless of race. Nevertheless, African Americans may require special awareness of their unique hair growth dynamics to get the most significant outcomes. 

Many African Americans who are experiencing hair loss do not believe they are suitable candidates for a hair transplant treatment due to the unique qualities of their hair. This is a long-held misconception. In reality, the curly nature of a black hair follicle provides African American hair transplant clients with an advantage — the “curl” gives the illusion of higher density. Thus, fewer hair grafts are required to obtain apparent results. The challenge occurs with the harvesting of curly hair which can cause transection, resulting in a lower yield, if not performed by skilled clinicians. 

Let’s understand a few significant dynamics of Afro-American hair transplants. 

Causes of Hair Loss in African Americans

As with any other community, hair loss in African American people also happens due to multiple reasons. Let’s look at a few of them. 

Male Pattern Baldness

Male pattern baldness is a major cause of hair loss in all ethnicities. And it’s one of the most prevalent problems the doctors see in African American patients too. DHT, a hormone that diminishes hair follicles with age, is often the cause of male pattern baldness.

Each of us shed hair daily — folks of all ages shed between 100 and 125 strands every day. This hair usually regenerates so that any weakening will go unnoticed.

However, for people susceptible to DHT, hair follicles slowly diminish with age, and the hair that grows back is thinner. The follicle eventually dies and does not regrow.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. The body misidentifies these follicles as an invading infection and strives to eliminate them. This has the potential to cause both temporary and permanent hair loss. Alopecia is more widespread among African Americans.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia, incurable without a hair transplant, may also affect Black men. It can be caused by tugging the hair back into tight hairstyles regularly.

Because textured hair is prone to breakage, prolonged hairstyles such as braiding, twists, and weaving are popular in Black communities. Unfortunately, these styles can cause damage and hair loss by putting too much strain on the base of one’s hair.

Anemia

Anemia may also cause hair loss, according to some studies. Anemia occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. It can cause exhaustion and discomfort.

Sickle cell illness can cause anemia and afflict those of African heritage significantly. One in every 365 Black people [1] in the U.S. has sickle cell anemia.

What Makes Black Men’s Hair Restoration Unique?

There are a few unique problems associated with African American hair loss. These are some examples:

Strong Curls

While black hair is naturally curly, the tightness and structure of the curls differ based on the individual. People might even have various curl patterns on their hair simultaneously. The hair near the nape may be thick, while the hair on the crown of the head could be thinner.

The angle at which the follicle is re-inserted into the scalp while doing follicular transplants determines how curly the subsequent hair growth will be. Each follicle must be appropriately positioned to make sure that the fresh hair growth matches the adjoining area perfectly.

Highly Fragile

Textured hair is more delicate than some other hair varieties, and the roots are more vulnerable to damage. This is due to the fact that the hair shaft is quite thick in comparison to some other hair types, and the curl extends to the root. A large, curving root renders hair follicle extraction and grafting more challenging and increases the risk of injury.

Hair Transplant Methods for African American Hair

Advanced hair restoration surgery, such as follicular unit extraction, combined with the expertise of professional hair transplant surgeons, can be highly successful remedies for African American people experiencing hair loss. Unique characteristics of the follicles necessitate skill and a particular technique for donor extraction in both FUT and FUE operations. Consequently, using these procedures leads to good growth and, of course, outcomes that are as natural-looking as possible.

Some of the most common hair transplant treatments for Black people are:

Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT)

Follicular unit transplant (FUT) [2] is a surgical treatment that includes extracting a strip of scalp with healthy hair follicles from an area densely covered with hair and grafting them into the balding region.

Some hair transplant doctors feel this treatment is ideal for African American hair because of the additional complications of collecting hair follicles. They believe that this method makes it simpler to extract healthy hair follicles without causing keloid scarring, which African Americans are susceptible to.

However, this treatment leaves a prominent linear scar. This may be more difficult for Black males to conceal as they generally keep very short hair.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

In follicular unit extraction or FUE, hair follicles are picked straight from the scalp, rather than cutting a strip of the scalp from the donor location. Unlike FUT’s strip procedure, which causes a noticeable linear scar, FUE [3] has no apparent scarring, is nearly noninvasive, and has a reduced recovery period.

At MAXIM Hair Restoration, we exclusively use the most advanced technology available for the Afro-American community. 

It is easy to transect (cut) donor hair follicles during the harvesting process. If 2,000 grafts are attempted to be harvested, a procedure may only yield 1,000 to 1,500 if done using less than optimal technology and/or in inexperienced hands. This is why many African-Americans traditionally hesitated to undergo hair transplants. 

Micro-Pigmentation of the Scalp (SMP)

Scalp Micro-pigmentation [4], also known as SMP, is a nonsurgical procedure that involves the placement of microscopic, clinical tattoos on the balding scalp to replicate the appearance of shaven hair follicles. This technique is safe for males of all ethnicities, as well as women. It can be used alone or combined with surgical treatments to improve the outcome. 

As short haircuts are very common in African American groups, the micro-pigmentation technique is especially prevalent.

Excellent results can be obtained with a black hair transplant by using any of the procedures mentioned above. Your MAXIM doctor or clinician may recommend a combination of procedures, also known as Hybrid Hair Restoration. If you’re African American and wondering how to go about your hair restoration, take that critical step of scheduling a private consultation with MAXIM’s experienced staff, and we will be happy to help you.


Footnotes

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (December 16, 2020). Data & Statistics on Sickle Cell Disease. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/data.html#:~:text=SCD%20occurs%20among%20about%201,sickle%20cell%20trait%20(SCT)

2. Yetman, Daniel. (June 30, 2020). What You Need to Know About Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). https://www.healthline.com/health/fut-hair-transplant

3. Dua, Aman & Kapil. (May-August 2010). Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956961/

4. Gallagher, Grace. (May 28, 2019). Everything You Need to Know About Scalp Micropigmentation. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/scalp-micropigmentation