Scalp Reduction

E-MailE-Mail PrintPrint Share Text Size Down Text Size UpText Size

For the majority of men, balding is an unfortunate yet inevitable reality. Hair loss can begin as early as the teen years and lead to a lack of self-confidence. Most often, such hair loss is not caused by an illness but is simply a genetic trait.

New surgical techniques make it possible to re-create a thick, full head of hair by moving areas of existing hair to the bald areas. For patients looking for alternatives to hair transplants, many doctors now offer scalp flaps and scalp reductions to produce a new, natural-looking head of hair. Scalp reductions take advantage of the elastic properties of skin. In this procedure, the doctor removes a bald section of scalp, and stretches the remaining skin up and over the removed area. The procedure moves the hair on the sides of the head up to the previously bald area.

Scalp reduction and scalp flaps surgeries can be used in combination, and hair transplants (grafts) are often utilized to fill in the small bald patches that remain after these more aggressive procedures.


*The average cost of Scalp Reduction is between $2,500 to $5,000.

Alopecia is the medical term used to describe the Scalp Reduction procedure.

Scalp Reduction is a surgical procedure with permanent results.









  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this surgery?
  2. How are scalp reductions performed?
  3. How long does the surgery take?
  4. Where will the procedure be performed?
  5. How much pain is there?
  6. What can I expect after the procedure?
  7. What is the recovery period like?
  8. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  9. Other information (alternatives, common combinations, procedure-specific info)
  10. Risks and limitations
  11. Ideal Candidate


What are some of the most common benefits of this surgery?

Like all hair restoration procedures, scalp reductions are designed to produce a more healthy, youthful head of hair. Scalp reductions have a significant advantage over hair transplants in that they produce immediate results.

Scalp reductions are normally performed on men with balding on the crown of the head. Lifting the existing hair from around the sides of the scalp brings healthy hair follicles to the top of the scalp by simply raising them several inches. The hair then continues to grow at the same rate. It will not thin or die unless hair on the sides of the head also thins and dies.

If you're considering a scalp reduction, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in hair replacement procedures.

Go to TOP

How are scalp reductions performed?

In scalp reductions, doctors remove small areas of the scalp and rely on the elastic property of the skin to cover those areas of baldness. This procedure decreases an entire area of baldness, and may be used in combination with transplants to produce an even fuller head of hair. Scalp reductions are generally performed on people with balding on the top of the head.

Most scalp reductions are performed under general anesthesia. Sometimes doctors will opt for a local anesthesia instead (like that used by dentists) combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and although you may feel some tugging and mild discomfort, you won't feel any pain.

In many cases, the procedure will be done in two steps. First, about four to six weeks prior to the actual procedure, doctors will reroute some of the arteries in the patient's head. This operation ensures proper blood flow after the scalp reduction is done.

In the second step, the surgeon creates a thick Y-shaped incision at the top-back portion of the patient's head. Skin in this area is removed, and the back and sides of the scalp are lifted upward and inward to cover and close the area. The incision is closed and sutured. Any scarring is usually covered by hair styling.

Go to TOP

How long does the surgery take?

Scalp reductions require about three to four hours for each step of the operation.

Go to TOP

Where will the procedure be performed?

A scalp reduction can be done in the hospital or in an office surgical suite, depending on your preferences as well as your surgeon's. The longer the procedure is expected to take, the more likely that general anesthesia will be recommended. You may be allowed to return home within a few hours of the surgery, and spend the night in the comfort of your own home, or it may be necessary to spend the night in the hospital so your recovery process can be monitored by medical staff.

Go to TOP

How much pain is there?

The amount of pain experienced varies from person to person and depends on the extent of the procedure. There may be some discomfort following the procedure that can be alleviated with oral medication. You should discuss your goals, budget, and pain tolerance with your surgeon in order to help him/her determine the procedure, or combination of procedures, that will produce the best results for you.

Go to TOP

What can I expect after the procedure?

Patients normally experience swelling and some numbness for the first few days following the procedure. Because the skin needs time to soften, tightness in the scalp is also common for several months after the operation. Scabbing is also common. Most patients will be able to return to work within three to five days following the procedure.

Go to TOP

What is the recovery period like?

You should be able to slowly resume normal daily activities over the next several days. Shampooing and combing should be avoided for at least five to seven days. Strenuous activity should be kept to a minimum for about two weeks.

Go to TOP

What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

Most patients who decide to undergo scalp reduction are pleased with the results.

While there may be some scarring around the incision, it is normally covered by hair. A hair transplant procedure can be used to better cover the scars. Occasionally, the skin loosens again after a scalp reduction, and the bald area begins to enlarge, moving the hairline back to its original position.

Go to TOP

Other information (alternatives, common combinations, procedure-specific info):

Other hair replacement treatments include hair transplants, wigs and drugs therapy. Both scalp flaps and reductions are normally done in combination with hair grafts in order to fill in the remaining thinning or balding areas. And sometimes reductions and flaps will be done together. Depending on the individual, these combinations often give patients the most natural looking results.

Go to TOP

Risks and limitations:

Scalp reduction is usually performed on patients with balding on the crown of the head. Men whose hair is just beginning to thin, or whose hair patterns are still changing, may want to choose a different type of treatment.

Scalp reduction will produce scars where the incisions were made. The scars are usually faint and concealed by hair. You can reduce your risk of any complications by closely following your surgeon's instructions both before and after surgery.

Go to TOP

Ideal Candidate:

In general, the best candidates for scalp reduction are:

  • Physically healthy
  • Psychologically stable
  • With nearly complete balding around the top portion of the scalp
  • Informed about the procedure
  • Informed about the balding process
  • Possessing healthy hair growth on the sides and back of the head
  • Realistic about the outcome

Go to TOP

The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

Back to Top

Close Real Stories

Tell Us Your Story!

iEnhance Real Stories follows the lives of young women and men who have taken the journey to improve their body, health and image through elective cosmetic and plastic surgery. All of our stories are hand-picked, so if you would like to be featured in an upcoming edition, simply fill out the form below and we will let you know when winners are chosen, Good Luck!

Plastic Surgery Studios Network ienhance Beauty Chat Blog iEnhance on Facebook iEnhance on Twitter