Are Hair Transplants Effective on Kinky Hair?

The golden era of hair transplantation has arrived, with all key metrics pointing up. The number of clinics, the skill of surgeons, the precision of technology — everything is improving year over year in the hair restoration field. 

Most importantly, patient satisfaction has never been higher, proving that years of research and experience are paying off.

But amid all the excitement, there’s one niche within the hair transplant industry that raises questions: tightly curled or “kinky” hair and its possible limitations in grafting. Many African American men and curly-haired Caucasians have stayed away from these procedures as a result.

For years, this type of hair has presented a challenge for surgeons, but we can confidently say that the trend has turned a corner. Hair transplants are effective on kinky hair, but there are some extra considerations to make. 

Let’s talk about the factors surrounding hair transplants for this type of hair and what you need to know as you explore your options.

Why Are Hair Transplants Harder With Curly Hair?

It’s not a matter of incompetence or carelessness — there are real factors that make performing a transplant more difficult for curly and kinky hair. Here are the reasons why hair transplants have traditionally been a challenge for this segment of the population.

Harvesting

Of the many different types of hair found throughout human physiology, tightly curled strands have a few unique features. 

They tend to be more coarse and strong, making the surgeon’s job more difficult when extracting individual follicle units (which can contain up to five hairs) in the first stage of a transplant procedure.

Firmer, deeper roots mean that the harvesting phase is more demanding, with greater resistance to overcome. Whether surgeon skill or technology is the limiting factor, some hairs just can’t be taken without transection (irreversible damage) to the root.

The shape and curvature of kinky hair can also cause frustration from a surgeon’s perspective since these hairs tend to continue curving beneath the skin itself. This requires the doctor to accurately predict the path of the follicle as it buries into the skin, then extract the hair at the precise depth and angle to preserve its structure. 

Given the time pressures and technological limitations at play here, it’s not surprising to see higher transection rates among patients with curly and kinky hair. 

Harvesting kinky hair via Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) is also more challenging than the standard “strip surgery” method of Follicular Unit Transplant. 

However, even with the extraction of a hair-bearing strip of skin from the donor area, surgeons must be highly skilled as they process each follicle for safe and complete transplantation. Consider Dr. Jae Pak, M.D. for your FUE hair transplant.

Implantation

The challenges of a hair transplant for curly hair don’t stop after the units have been harvested. Many surgeons have found it challenging to implant tightly coiled hair into the target region of the scalp, whether to restructure a sound hairline or fill in gaps along the temples or crown.

This obstacle is due to the wider dimensions of coiled hair since each follicle takes up more space than the typical straight hair. Surgeons must take a different approach than usual to create the right amount of space to place the graft without disrupting the natural formation of the hair pattern.

Therefore, patients with curly hair may have had a “pluggy” appearance in decades past when methodologies and techniques were not yet mastered. While methods have improved drastically, some curly-haired patients may have fewer points of reference from contemporary procedures and the results they deliver. 

Also, consider that while grafting hair may not be more technically demanding, a greater degree of artistic ability and aesthetic understanding play a role in the process.

Recovery and Maintenance

The technical challenges of hair transplants are increased with tightly curled hair and may continue into the aftercare and recovery process in the weeks and months to follow.

This is due to the sensitive nature of newly grafted hair and the fact that post-operative protocols may not be properly defined for those with unique hair types in general. For instance, a common issue for curly-haired patients is dealing with liquid ointments and medicines that don’t absorb well into the scalp. Creams and gels are better suited for full absorption.

That’s just one example of how recovery and post-op maintenance may differ for those with curly or kinky hair. 

As we’ll discuss further, curly-haired patients must seek a clinic and surgeon who customize their aftercare program for specific hair types, rather than an all-encompassing set of instructions for every patient. Dr. Jae Pak, M.D. prioritizes artistry, technology, and patient care for real results. 

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Schedule a consultation with Dr. Jae Pak today.

Hidden Advantages

Despite the difficulties that curly and kinky hair can present to surgeons during the hair transplant procedure, long-term results for patients in this category have a few key advantages — especially now that transplants have improved. 

Firstly, curly hair takes up more volume on the scalp once implanted effectively, creating the appearance of more densely populated hair with greater coverage than average straight hair. This helps make up for the fact that a higher transection rate is to be expected.

Curly hair may also be more resilient to further thinning and shedding in the long run since this hair type is generally less susceptible to balding in the first place. If all goes according to plan (with post-op care and maintenance), that hair is there for the long haul. 

What Has Changed? How Have Hair Transplants Improved?

We’ve outlined the pros and cons of hair transplantation for people with tightly curled or kinky hair, but times have changed. Hair transplants are better than ever by all standards, and patients with curly hair no longer have to worry about high transection rates or losing hair during the recovery phase.

Let’s see how far the hair transplant field has come and why there has never been a better time for curly-haired men and women to get the procedure they want. 

Technology Advancement

The improvement of tech in the hair restoration field is astounding, even in the past decade. Instruments used for extraction and implantation are more precise and lightweight, giving surgeons far greater control when performing these critical steps.

Even smaller aspects of the surgical process have been improved in slight yet significant ways, such as the efficacy of the solution that preserves follicles prior to implantation or the quality of medicines that accelerate healing and boost recovery.   

Techniques and Skills

Aside from the tech itself, surgeons have simply gained more direct experience working with curly and kinky hair in recent years. 

As a broader range of patients seeks out hair transplantation or cosmetic procedures in general, the average clinic sees a wider variety of hair types. It must adapt to the times to remain competitive.

Doctors have therefore sharpened their skills and broadened their awareness when working with different hair types in general. Many clinics have also emerged that specialize in certain hair types to give patients even more assurance.

Additional Treatments

While most of our focus is on hair transplants themselves, let’s not discount the impact of medicine and hair restoration treatments more broadly in working with curly hair.

The industry has improved its formulations from medicines to supplements, shampoos, and more. Alternative treatments like low-level laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma, and other methods are more widely accessible and effective.

This shows that hair transplants are just one part of the equation, and patients with curly hair should look at the complete picture when creating a hair restoration strategy.

Find the Best Clinic for Curly Hair Transplants

In recent years, the standard of quality for hair transplants has risen across the board, but patients with curly hair should still prioritize some key factors when looking for a clinic and surgeon. Here’s what matters most when deciding.

Proven Track Record

Some clinics claim they’ve worked with curly-haired patients in the past but lack the real-world experience to back it up. 

This speaks to the importance of research when browsing clinics and surgeons for your transplant. Don’t just read the text on the site — dive deep into reviews, before and after galleries, and other resources that support the clinic’s track record in this area.

Top-Tier Tech

Leading clinics feature cutting-edge tools and technology in their operating rooms and showcase their capabilities through user testimonials and descriptions online. If a clinic is behind the times with their tech, it’s likely not worth your time.

It always helps to choose a leader in the field with patented inventions and other innovative methods. This is why Jae Pak, MD Medical is widely regarded among the best hair transplant surgeons in the United States, with extensive experience working with curly hair. 

Ongoing Support

The hair restoration journey doesn’t end when the transplant process is complete. Patients with curly hair deserve extra support and guidance after the fact and must be ready to follow a long-term game plan for preservation and improvement. 

Not every clinic offers the required continued support for their patients, so be sure to make this a top priority when picking a clinic.

Restore Your Curly or Kinky Hair to Perfection

Gone are the days when curly and kinky hair could not be transplanted to full effect. With advancements in tech, medicine, and capabilities, now is the time to get your treatment plan on track with a transplant and therapies that truly work wonders. 

Sources:

How To Determine Your Hair Type | MTI College Sacramento

Surgical Hair Restoration / Understanding Hair Transplants | American Hair Loss Association

Evolution of hair transplantation | Par Journal

Find out if Hair Restoration is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!