DHI Hair Transplants
Over half of the male population in the UK eventually suffers hair loss from male pattern baldness once they hit their 50s. That means over 7 million men are getting bald at any given time. From the female perspective, the NHS estimates around 40% of women over the age of 70 experiencing female pattern baldness.
The good news? Technological advancements have opened up the doors to several hair restoration procedures.
One of these surgical innovations is direct hair implantation, more popularly known as DHI. This hair transplant method involves a single step, minimally invasive process of extracting hair follicles from one part of the body, usually the scalp, and implanting them onto balding areas.
In this article we will dive deep into DHI and all you need to know about it – from the origins of the procedure to costs and results.
What is DHI?
DHI, short for Direct Hair Implantation, is a patented procedure introduced in 2005 by the DHI Medical Group, a company dedicated to diagnosing, preventing, and treating hair loss. DHI was their novel alternative to a hair transplant procedure they pioneered in 2003 – the follicular unit extraction (FUE).
Although FUE innovated the way viable hair was extracted, the transplantation process still required the receiving areas to have slits and holes made. Another popular hair restoration procedure is known as FUT or follicular unit transplantation. But like FUE, this involves an invasive and tedious process.
In contrast, the direct hair implant technique is minimally invasive, straightforward, painless, and scarless, making it the most popular hair loss treatment nowadays. In fact, in 2020, there were 2,432 DHI procedures performed in London alone. That’s a massive 40% increase from the 1,460 transplants done in 2019.
Another thing that sets apart DHI from other surgical hair restoration procedures is that only specially trained surgeons can perform the DHI transplant procedure. The training includes certification with the Total Care System, DHI Medical’s hair restoration quality protocols accredited by no less than the ISO and the UK’s Care Quality Commission.
In addition, to ensure the consistency and quality of all direct hair implants performed worldwide, all doctors performing DHI are subject to continuous monitoring by the DHI Medical Group. If that wasn’t enough, each procedure performed in all DHI clinics across the globe is individually assessed by a dedicated team of DHI Medical Doctors.
In the world of hair implants, the direct hair implantation technique arguably has one of the most stringent quality control measures to date.
Procedure and Timeline
So what does the entire process look like, and how long does the usual process take?
Day One – Consultation and Treatment Planning
- Before any transplant is made, you need to book a consultation with a hair restoration specialist.
- This day is an essential part of the hair restoration process as it is when the specialist gets to evaluate your current hair condition and make a diagnosis.
- Once you are diagnosed to be eligible for a DHI procedure, your treatment plans will then be discussed, including the number of hair grafts you will need and how the specialist plans to plot your hairline.
- You may also be asked to undergo blood tests to check for any infections and establish your baseline levels.
- Take the opportunity during your consultation to ask all questions you may have regarding your hairs loss and the treatments available to you.
Week One – Pre-DHI Preparations
- The waiting time between your consultation day and your actual DHI procedure day will vary, depending on your local clinic’s current procedure list. However, for the purpose of this article, let’s assume the surgery wait time to be at least a week or two.
- The amount of preparation you need to undertake before your hair transplant largely depends on your existing medical condition(s). Examples of these pre-procedure preparations include ceasing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking at least seven days before your transplant. In addition, if you’re taking blood thinners, such as aspirin, you may also be asked to stop this at least a week before your hair restoration.
Week Two – Surgery Day(s)
- On the day of surgery, you will have another consultation with your specialist surgeon, where they will plot their proposed hairline and discuss any last-minute queries or concerns you may have.
- You will then be gowned appropriately for surgery, and your baseline recordings are measured (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, etc.).
- Once in the operating suite, the anesthesiologist will be administering a local anaesthetic which makes your procedure is painless yet ensures you are still awake and conscious enough to know what is going on around you.
- The direct hair implantation technique starts with the extraction phase, where a specially designed tool is used to harvest follicles from the donor site.
- The next step is the implantation phase. This step utilises the patented DHI Implanter, which can directly implant the hair follicles into the recipient areas without the need for slits or holes. Another notable feature of the implanter is that it gives the specialist full control of each graft’s direction, depth, and angle, allowing them to create precisely positioned and natural-looking hair implants.
- The exact length of the direct hair implantation technique can be anywhere between one to three days, depending on the number of follicular grafts needed. Once the procedure is completed, the patient is usually sent home without staying in the hospital overnight.
Week Two – 24 Hours After Procedure Completion
- The day after your DHI procedure, you may notice some crusts forming around the treated areas. It’s a normal occurrence and should fall off a week after the treatment.
- It is also during this day that you will be asked to wash your donor site.
Week Two – 72 Hours After Procedure Completion
- You will be asked to gently wash the recipient/implanted site on day three following the hair implantation.
Week Four – 10 Days Post DHI Procedure
- By this time, the redness along the treated sites should have completely disappeared.
- You may also start noticing a bit of hair growth.
Month Two – Shock Phase
- About a month after the procedure, don’t be alarmed if you notice implanted hair falling off. This is known as the shock phase and is part of the normal hair growth process that usually lasts four months.
- The donor site should have regrown its hair by now.
Month Six – 50% Evolution
- Four months after the hair restoration procedure, early DHI results are evident as most areas of the implanted sites should be covered with hair.
Year One – 100% Natural Hair Line
- The extraction and implantation sites should be completely covered with hair a year into the process, achieving the ideal DHI result – a 100% natural hairline.
What does a direct hair implant treatment cost?
Like many cosmetic surgery procedures, the cost of a DHI procedure varies across the globe. A large component of this difference comes from labour- and living costs and currency devaluation.
To better illustrate this vast difference in pricing, let’s compare the UK and Turkey direct hair implantation costs. Depending on the number of grafts needed, the DHI hair transplant cost in the UK is anywhere between £5,000- £15,000, a relatively huge amount compared to the £1,500- £3,500 of a similar procedure in Turkey.
Don’t forget, however, that having your treatments overseas comes with additional indirect expenses. For example, if travelling to Turkey from London for your DHI, you need to add at least £1,300. This is a conservative estimate covering flights, insurance, accommodation, food, and other daily miscellaneous expenses for two weeks. However, if you plan on travelling with a support person, this cost is essentially doubled. You may also want to consider the number of days you take off work, which is more than likely not eligible for sick pay, owing to it being a cosmetic procedure. That would set you back at least £1,200, or the value of two weeks of average pay in the UK.
As we mentioned earlier, every DHI clinic worldwide is under strict monitoring. This means you are more than likely to get the same quality treatment regardless of where you have your DHI hair transplant in Turkey or whether you opt for a DHI hair transplant UK provider. If anything, it’s probably not a bad idea to google a few DHI hair transplant reviews to give you a better idea of what DHI clinics to consider in your shortlist. Ultimately, it all boils down to your convenience, your financial circumstances, and your personal preference.
Can the procedure be done for all hair loss types?
Medically referred to as alopecia, hair loss results from several underlying conditions. Although hair restoration treatments like DHI cannot treat all types of alopecia, they are definitely one of the preferred options in hair clinics for the permanent management of the most common types of hair loss.
Androgenic Alopecia (Pattern Baldness)
Pattern baldness is by far the most common type of hair loss, manifesting differently in each individual. These can be in the form of receding hairlines, bald spots, hair thinning, or widening of the central hair partition.
Male Pattern Blindness
- Affects around half of the men over the age of 50, with the hair loss beginning as early as their late 20s to early 30s.
- Thought to be hereditary and a result of excessive hormone production.
Female Pattern Blindness
- Very common with ageing, affecting nearly two-thirds of women as soon as they reach menopause.
- The most common hair loss affecting young women with highly textured hair.
- Baldness is due to extensive pulling or tension due to specific hairstyles.
- In men, traction alopecia may also happen in the frontal hair or the beard.
Hair Restorations in general
- The direct hair implantation technique is not only beneficial for people experiencing scalp hair loss. DHI can also be applied to other body parts, such as beard and eyebrow restorations.
Contraindications, Risks, and Considerations
Some conditions are not suitable for direct hair implants. These include hair loss due to chemotherapy or baldness due to an autoimmune disorder. Hair replacement may also not be a viable option if you don’t have enough donor follicle sites or are prone to forming keloid scars.
In general, DHI treatments are generally safe. A possible complication that could occur during the procedure is a negative reaction to the anaesthetic administered. However, this is very rare, and the complications are almost always immediately manageable. There may also be a less than 1% chance of infection, bleeding, or inflammation may also happen. But, again, because DHI is minimally invasive and no incisions are involved, these are extremely rare.
Some expected side effects of direct hair implantation include shock hair loss, where you may temporarily lose hair at the implant site two months after surgery. However, this shouldn’t worry you as it always almost recovers in the subsequent months.
In addition to carefully considering the direct hair implantation disadvantages, ensure you have done consultations with the appropriate specialists and adequate research before finally deciding on undergoing the procedure. Do a background check of the clinic and the specialist surgeon who will be conducting your procedure. Consider the costs, the procedure timeline, the recovery phase, and how all of these would work out with your current lifestyle.
DHI Compared to Other Procedures
The direct hair implantation technique is not the only treatment option for hair loss. In fact, it is preceded by other hair implantation techniques and is succeeded by alternative hair regeneration therapies.
DHI Versus FUT
FUT stands for follicular unit transplantation, and it is also sometimes called the “strip method” of hair transplants. The procedure involves removing a thin strip of tissue from the back of the scalp, where follicles are then extracted before being re-inserted into the hair loss area.
FUT is significantly quicker than DHI, with a typical procedure lasting between 4-8 hours. The cost is also cheaper, ranging from £4500- £9000.
One downside of the FUT is that it leaves a permanent scar. In addition, there may be the potential for some post-procedure swelling and discomfort where the strip was harvested from. On the upside, FUT is highly recommended for patients who have significant balding around the crown region to achieve better coverage and more fullness.
DHI Versus FUE
FUE is an updated, less invasive version of the FUT. Instead of harvesting an entire strip of scalp, hair follicles are extracted in groups of 1-4 using a specialised instrument. This step is similar to DHI. The difference comes in the implantation phase; as in FUE, micro-incisions create holes that serve as receptacles for the grafts. In DHI, these grafts are directly implanted without incisions, using a patented device.
Cost-wise, FUE is more affordable, with charges ranging from £2,000 to £7,000. FUE also is a tad quicker than DHI, requiring only a single day to complete even for the larger number of grafts.
Due to the slits created, FUE will result in a bit of scarring, which heals over time. There is also the potential risk for bleeding because of these cuts. Both of these are not a problem with DHI. The advantage of FUE over DHI is that FUE is the ideal method for covering larger hair loss areas, whereas DHI is ideal for localised or smaller patches of hair loss.
DHI Versus PRP
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a naturally occurring substance and a relatively new hair regeneration treatment. The main difference between DHI and PRP is that the latter is a non-surgical approach. The process is done by extracting a small amount of blood from the patient, isolating and activating platelet-rich plasma through a sophisticated laboratory procedure. The activated PRP is then injected into the damaged area to stimulate hair growth.
PRP is a significantly cheaper option at only around £425 per session, with an average of three sessions required to complete the cycle. PRP sessions are also quicker, lasting only just over an hour for each session.
The big difference between the two treatments is that PRP stimulates dormant hair follicles – it’s a prevents baldness rather than treating it. This means bald spots with no chance of hair regrowth is only amenable to DHI and cannot be treated with PRP. On the plus side, patients suffering from hair thinning are usually best suited for PRP rather than DHI. PRP is also widely used in combination with DHI to boost hair quality and volume, both for the donor and recipient site.