Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplant (What’s the Difference?)

Man's hair before and after hair loss treatment.

A friend of mine who’s been dealing with some hairline issues lately approached me with a question I’ve never had to consider before. Hair plugs or hair transplant? Which procedure should he use to solve the issue of his receding hairline?

Being at a complete loss as to how to answer this but not wanting to disappoint him, I looked into the question on the net. These are some of the interesting bits of information I found.

There is no difference between hair plugs and hair transplants. Hair plugs are a form of hair transplant. Hair plugs involve transplanting a round thatch of hair and skin onto the designated area on the scalp. It has become an outmoded procedure in recent times due to improvements in hair transplant technology.

Given this piece of information, you may wonder to yourself if it’s still viable to get a hair plug? What caused the procedure to become outmoded? Are there times when it’s still necessary to get hair plugs?

What are some of the cutting edge procedures in hair transplant technology and what are the costs-material or otherwise- of these procedures? By examining these questions, these are some of the answers I got.

Is It Still Possible, If At All, To Get A Hair Plug?

Yes and no. Yes, because it still is very much a necessary procedure for various reasons including need and other peculiarities of individual cases where they can only receive a hair transplant via hair plugs. Though, as aforementioned, hair plugs have been largely supplanted by more cutting-edge transplant procedures, it’s still a procedure that largely works.

Though it lacks the pinpoint clinical precision of some of the more recent developments within its sphere of medical technology, hair plugs can still be looked on with favor. They are relatively long-lasting and provide a high yield of hair growth through their grouping of hair follicles on the same thatch of skin.

Moreover, there is no legal injunction or regulatory mechanism for that matter that advises against the use of hair plugs as a medical hair transplant procedure. It’s simply that the procedure has fallen out of vogue, both because of the decrease in patient demand in light of other, better transplant procedures and doctors’ professional desire to keep up with the latest medical developments.

What Caused The Hair Plugs To Become Outmoded As A Hair Transplant Procedure?

Trichologist examining her patient's hair who's suffering from hair loss.

Unchallenged for almost half a century as the primary medical hair transplant procedure, around the turn of the twenty-first-century hair plugs experienced a sudden and precipitous drop in requests. This was largely due to the confluence of a number of factors, among which include, patient dissatisfaction, the advent of laser technology, improvements in precision lens technology, and rapid specialization of hair transplantation surgery.

  • Patient dissatisfaction- Because hair plugs necessitate the removal of large sections of skin, this became a cause of concern for most patients. In it’s early years, due to hair transplant technology lacking the sophistication needed to remove hair follicles from the dermis in a more precise, patients mostly put up with this. As the years passed and improvements in other specialized medical fields, patients became more reluctant to part with large chunks of their skin and called for reform.
  • Laser technology– One of the unintended consequences of the developmental arms race of the Cold War was improvements in laser technology. In the medical field, this revolutionized the specialized operations of several medical fields, including hair transplant technology. Laser technology as adapted to this specialized medical field enabled doctors to more accurately remove hair up to a fine, microscopic degree the targeted hair follicles for hair transplantation.  It also optimized the hair growth component of the procedure by picking only those follicles on the skin that can be more easily stimulated for hair growth.
  • Precision lenses– With improvements in hairline technology also came improvement in precision lens. This allows doctors to get a high degree of detail on the targeted areas on the skin. Whether it’s to remove or transplant skin and hair follicles, the virtual microscopic images given by precision has vastly helped doctors’ and their ability to more precisely conduct hair transplant procedures.
  • Rapid Specialization of hair transplantation– What began as an obscure, cosmetic and seemingly unimportant procedure became-through rapid specialization- one of the of most requested and profitable surgical procedures by the early 2000s. This was largely enabled by the two aforementioned medical technological improvements. One it’s consequences was the gradual fading out of any procedures deemed to be inefficient or in any way not up to standards. In light of this, hair plugs gradually faded from prominence as a viable hair transplant procedure.

Are There Times When It’s Necessary To Get Hair Plugs?

Doctor marking his patient's head who suffers from hair loss.

There are certain cases that necessitate using hair plugs, chief among them most probably being financial need. The more prominent contemporary hair transplant procedures, with their cutting-edge medical technology, are largely inaccessible to the average man of today. In this case, hair plugs provide a cheaper, if slightly lower quality alternative.

Other factors that can sway a person’s choice in hair transplantation procedures towards hair plugs include personal preference and/or a liking towards the grouped instead of singular hair follicle removal and transplant method. Hair plugs themselves have undergone certain surgical upgrades through the initiative of certain medical practitioners. This has enabled some hair plug procedures to meet the needs of those incapable of getting the more medically advanced hair transplant procedures but still want

to a certain degree the same level of operational and surgical expertise.

Contemporary Hair Transplant Procedures And Their Costs

Doctor doing hair transplant surgery.

The associated costs of hair transplant surgery are quite steep. The use of cutting-edge technologies such as lasers, microscopic precision lenses, and medical expertise sets a lot of people back cost-wise. Regardless of this fact many people for various reasons which include pride, spousal or partner pressure, and self-esteem will choose to take on this steep price.

Your own willingness to undergo this specialized operation will depend on your need, but it’s advised that you always keep an eye out on the health of your wallet while making your decision.


We all want to look good. As the saying often goes, “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good”.  This holds true to most of us whether we want to believe it or not. People respond positively to attractive people or anything deemed beautiful for that matter.

Taking this into account, it’s no wonder why so many people, including my friend, can’t help but wonder whether or not they should use the possibilities given to them as a fix to their self-image. Even with the steep pricing and expense, most people who have unfortunately fallen victim to a degree of hair loss will take whatever opportunity given to them to remedy the problem.

If you’re one of these people or know someone who is, I’d advise you to take into account all that is written above and use it as means of making an informed decision about or not you or that person you know should get a hair transplant.


Healthline: What Are Hair Plugs, and Are They Still Used Today?

Matt Dominance: Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplant

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