Men and women with hair loss are rightfully excited by the prospect of being able to restore a natural looking head of hair with surgical hair restoration. However, understanding the limitations and risks of hair transplant surgery is just as important as counting its benefits. One important but controversial topic worth discussing is hair transplant dense packing, which enables the appearance of a thicker, fuller head of hair.
Though most surgeons agree that a certain level of dense packing is appropriate in some patients, not everyone requires large quantities of hair packed in a single area. Whether or not a balding man or woman is eligible for and how much dense packing is appropriate largely depends on the patient’s current and risk of future hair loss, donor hair availability, long term hair restoration goals, and what can realistically be accomplished.
A few hair replacement clinics have made claims that they can pack up to 70, 80, and even 100 follicular unit grafts (hairs as they occur naturally in the scalp) per square centimeter (FU/cm2). And though men and women suffering from baldness are often intrigued by a physician’s ability to pack hair closely together due to dreams of recovering a full head of hair, too much dense packing might inhibit healthy hair regrowth.
Some studies suggest that higher densities may affect its ability to grow. Coalition member Dr. Ray Konior of Chicago, IL recently presented a case where at first; his patient received 3000 densely packed grafts in the frontal third of his scalp up to 100 FU/cm2 with another clinic. Considering hair density is typically around 80 FU/cm2, this patient’s hair should have been so dense that nobody could see the forest through the trees. Unfortunately, though 100 follicular units were packed tightly together, growth yield was less than optimal, leaving the appearance of thinning hair. View this patient’s photos and story here.