What is the Donor Area in Hair Transplants?

Toni S.
What is the Donor Area | Donor Area in Hair Transplants

The effective application of the donor-recipient ratio is the major determinant in hair transplantation for patients with pattern baldness. However, no factor can reliably predict the level of alopecia advancement or point to a permanently safe donor area.

While the rising demand for hair transplants suggests that more people are safely restoring their hairline and reversing alopecia, the truth is that being bald is not the only criterion for being a good candidate for the treatment.

This article answers all questions about donor areas in hair transplants and why it is the most critical factor in determining a patient's eligibility for hair transplants.

What is a Hair Donor Area?

The hair donor area is the part of the body where hair follicles grow best. The hair follicles in the donor area are surgically removed and then transplanted to areas of the scalp where hair loss has occurred.

Male/female pattern baldness has little effect on the permanent hair development in the donor area, ensuring that the transferred hair follicles will keep growing in their new location. The strength, volume, and robustness of the hair follicles removed from your scalp's donor area significantly impact how well your treatment goes. 

Candidates for hair replacement must have healthy hair development in the donor area at the back of the head. Still, other characteristics like texture, hair color, degree of curl, or wave can impact the results.


illustration of a hair transplantation process


Assessing Ideal Donor Areas for Hair Transplant

The best donor areas include the back and sides of the head, and beard areas because they grow continuously, increasing in length and fullness. These areas are usually resistant to hair loss and have a substantial supply of healthy hair follicles. 

Before considering any hair transplant, examining the patient's potential donor areas is necessary. Note that a subpar assessment of the donor area will significantly contribute to the hair transplant's failure.

More reason why you should engage an accomplished and skilled surgeon for this assessment. 

Note that this examination may determine the best technique for extraction and implantation for you. Donor area characteristics that may pose potential barriers to the procedure's success include:  

The number of grafts: The donor area must have enough hair grafts to cover the surface area of the recipient area. Taking donor grafts from an area with insufficient hair follicles may result in a sparse, overused, or less attractive donor area.
Quality of grafts: The donor area must have good-quality grafts. Quality is exhibited in the color, strength, length, and thickness of the hair strands in this area.

Extraction of Hair Grafts from the Donor Area

Depending on the procedure, the surgeon either cuts a strip of skin containing hair roots (FUT hair transplant) or extracts the hair roots using tiny needles from the scalp (FUE hair transplant). When extracting the grafts, surgeons avoid donor site depletion from overharvesting. Donor hair depletion happens when a surgeon harvests up to 50% or more of the donor site hair grafts. 


medical team during a hair transplant procedure


Doctors harvest tiny punch grafts at the time from the donor site. It is normal for these grafts to vary in size and shape. When the doctors extract the hair, they immediately apply or inject small quantities of saline solution into the hair-bearing area to ensure the skin regains its strength.

During hair transplantation, surgeons can use specialized tweezers on the donor site to hasten the healing process even further (percutaneous method). Once the extraction is complete, the hair follicles can get implanted into the bald spots in accordance with the density and direction of natural hair development. 

After a FUT harvest, the surgeon makes single stitches to each punch graft site to seal it. You may not recover unless the wound is closed with staples, although this could result in a tiny straight-line scar if the doctor uses more stitches.

The site of a donor area after an FUE procedure does not require stitching. They can heal on their own, and healing is more rapid.

How to Care for the Hair Donor Area After the Surgery:

After the procedure, the donor area will be red and swollen in the initial days. Over the micro-injuries, blood and tissue water crusts form. The surrounding hairs close to the donor location may lose their follicles due to shock loss. 

If it appears as though your forehead or the surrounding area is swollen or bloated in some way, don't worry. Swelling typically starts to develop two to four days following surgery. It's only a temporary phase and won't cause any issues. 

Due to gravity, the swelling may descend to those eyelids. It takes two to three days for this to resolve. Here are some precautions to take before and after the donor site heals to encourage the hair around the donor location and recipient area to regrow fully.

1. Wash your hair daily 48 hours after the surgery using the doctor's prescribed shampoo.

2. Apply moisturizing sprays to soften the blood crusts and tissue.

3. Avoid tight-fitting headgear for the first few days. 

4. Purchase and apply a mild care lotion to the donor and recipient sites.

5. Avoid spicy meals, caffeine, and nicotine in the early days after the surgery.

6. Avoid applying excess heat to the area for the first two weeks.

7. Stay away from dirt and bacteria to avoid infections.

8. Try not to touch the donor site and the transplanted grafts.

9. Avoid heavy-lifting exercises until the donor site heals fully and the transplanted hair grafts are stable.

10. Report every abnormal pain, redness, or swelling to your physician if they arise.


an image of a man's scalp before and after a hair transplant


Where Can I Get a Quality and Safe Hair Transplant?

Hair Transplants Pro connects patients with the best hair surgeons in four medically-reputable countries of the world. These countries are the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico. We are affiliated with over 25 world-standard hair clinics in these regions, and they all leave no stones untouched in ensuring your bald spots do not come home with you.

Using unique and trusted strategies, Hair Transplant Pro will match you with the right hair clinic for your hair type and intended choice of technique.

That's not all! Hair Transplant Pro offers the best prices and success rates to patients covering their hair and travel needs. When needed, we also provide 24/7 support services before, during, and after your hair transplant.

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