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Overharvesting Donor Area: What Does it Mean?

If you have researched hair transplants you may have heard the term overharvesting. Your first thoughts may be that overharvesting is some weird alien sci-fi term and you have misread it! However, overharvesting donor area is a real phenomenon and it is important to be aware of what it means and how to avoid it.

In this guide, I explain the donor area used during FUE and DHI hair transplants, how overharvesting can occur, the effects it can have, and how to prevent this from happening.


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What is a Donor Area?

I find it strange that some people are under the impression that hair transplants are completed with donor hair from a third party. This just isn’t true. It’s not a traditional operation like a heart or kidney transplant where an organ is given from either a family member or a deceased donor.

Instead, for a FUE hair transplant, you use your own hair. This hair is taken from a part of your scalp where there is plenty of it, and it is in great condition. This is the donor area.

The donor area is the part of your scalp the hair follicles are extracted from.

This is usually the back of your head as this has the best hair growth and density.

What is Overharvesting of the Donor Area?

So what does overharvesting mean in terms of a hair transplant? Now that you understand the donor area you should hopefully have some idea.

Overharvesting is where the surgeon extracts too many hair follicles from a concentrated area of your scalp.

It is widely accepted by experts that only 1 in 4 hair follicular units in one area should be extracted to avoid overharvesting. We have to remember that FUE hair transplants require a lot of skill and precision and if the surgeon isn’t extremely careful, they could take too many hairs from one area resulting in overharvesting.

Before a hair transplant surgery, the surgeon will estimate how many hair follicles are needed to give you the desired look. This could be 1500, 2000, or 3000, for example. If that number is overestimated, this can lead to overharvesting donor area complications.

Read Next: Can Hair Be Transplanted from Body to Head?

What Effects Can Overharvesting Cause?

You now know what overharvesting is, but is this even a bad thing, and what are the negative side effects? To answer shortly, YES it’s a bad thing and the potential effects include:

Permanent damage

First and foremost, overharvesting can result in ugly patches on the donor area where the small scars are visible, and you are left with no hair. This can look terrible and incredibly noticeable.

However, it can also mean that no hair will regrow and you are stuck with that overharvested patch forever.

When a hair transplant is successful, the donor area has hair follicles evenly distributed and thus once your hair grows back, the donor patches are unnoticeable.

No potential for future transplants

A potential side effect that can occur is that overharvesting leaves you with no room for future hair transplants. If the donor area is devastated and too many hairs are taken, you simply won’t have any left to perform a second transplant if it transpires that your hair loss continues, or that you didn’t quite get the desired results from the first procedure.

Find out how many hair transplants can you have.

Postoperative Effluvium

Lastly, a condition known as Postoperative Effluvium can occur in areas of overharvesting. This is essentially additional hair loss that can occur around the donor area due to the excessive trauma and tissue damage caused in that concentrated spot. This is similar to the shock loss that can happen after a hair transplant but is a result of overharvesting – not just the procedure itself.

In most instances, this additional hair loss is temporary and it normally lasts for just a few weeks. However, for that period it can cause a lack of confidence and increased self-awareness.

How to Avoid Overharvesting of the Donor Area?

If you want to avoid an overharvesting hair transplant, you need to choose the right hair transplant clinic.

This is not something that occurs due to the quality of your hair, or your hair loss condition. It’s a direct result of surgeon malpractice and poor training. Therefore, make sure you research hair transplant clinics, read reviews, and look at before and after photos before choosing a surgeon.

Overharvesting is a Result of Poor Skill – Choose the Right Surgeon

Simply put, overharvesting should never occur with a competent, trained, and experienced hair transplant surgeon. We have years of knowledge, expert training, and an understanding of donor hair and how to get the best results.

If you cheap out and choose a less-skilled hair transplant surgeon then you could be susceptible to overharvesting and cause permanent damage to your hair and appearance. Please – research your hair transplant surgeon carefully and only ever use a reputable and trusted clinic.


Dr. Resul YAMAN

Dr. Resul Yaman is a highly experienced and renowned hair transplant surgeon. With over 13 years of expertise, he has transformed the lives of countless individuals through his innovative “modified low-speed micromotor” technique. Dr. Yaman’s commitment to using the latest methods and providing personalized care has established him as one of Turkey’s leading specialists. He specializes in hair transplantation, including eyebrow, mustache, and beard transplants. Dr. Yaman is dedicated to contributing to the hair transplant community, his work was featured in Hair Transplant Network, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons, Hair Restoration Social Network, and other renowned niche publications.


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