Latest on Hair Transplant

by: Parsa Mohebi and William Rassman, M.D.

Hair transplant surgery is one of the branches of cosmetic surgery that has been transformed in the last ten years. Civilizations search for a cure to balding has a long history and as far as we know it goes back to the era of Ancient Egypt. Hair transplant using surgical techniques has been around for almost a hundred years with different levels of success.

In 1939 a Japanese dermatologist invented a technique for transplant of skin containing hair to the burned area on the scalp. The goal was to create some hair coverage for the area. That procedure could probably be called the first ancestor of todayís refined hair transplant. At about the same time, single hairs were transplanted by the Japanese for eyebrow filling.

The concept of moving skin or hair was adopted by Dr. Orentreich in 1952 in United States for treatment of male pattern baldness. The technique for hair transplant he defined allowed surgeons to move hair and skin from the back (permanent hair) area of the scalp and implant it in the frontal balding area. This surgery thrilled the balding people who proudly showed off their plugs of hair in the frontal area that made their balding area less noticeable.

These plugs created islands of skin with high density hair and the balding areas were progressively filled in, eventually eliminating the visualization of the bald scalp. Many of the patients, treated with these techniques, had to have repeated surgery to hide the unnatural plugs.

As the techniques evolved in the 1980s, smaller size mini and micro-grafts were eventually used. These smaller grafts produced a more natural look. The discovery of Follicular Units was the inevitable final refinement, first coming to use in the early 1990s.

Follicular Unite Transplant (FUT) set a new standard in hair restoration surgery. FUT has made the dream of natural looking hair transplant, a reality and it is currently the standard of care in hair transplant surgery.

Hair transplant surgery has gone through an evolution from very larger hair grafts from 1959-1989 (era of plugs), to mini and micro-grafts 1989-1994 (smaller groupings of hair) and eventually follicular unit transplants since 1995. FUT allows harvesting of hair grafts in their natural occurring groups and it can produce normal results that are not detectable by the naked eye.

Other advances in techniques and instruments for hair transplant made larger surgeries possible and facilitated the transplant of a maximum number of grafts in only one session. The emphasis on natural looking surgery and elimination of noticeable scars advanced the techniques further.

Pharmaceutical discoveries with the drugs finasteride and minoxidil, grew new hair in many patients, prevented or slowed hair loss in younger men and when used in conjunction with hair transplant surgery became synergistic in preserving and/or reversing hair loss.

The future is bright with the promise for hair multiplication over the coming years. The idea of producing unlimited numbers of hair from a single hair follicle is being researched and could be an option for patients with limited hair supply in the future.

Expansion in knowledge of human genome and the advancement of technology for gene expression may locate a cure for balding. So, if you looked into mirror one morning, and felt you donít recognize the balding figure you see, you should not panic. Restoring your hair and your youthful look today is as easy as a visit to the dentistís office.

CO-AUTHOR: William Rassman, M.D. To get answers to your hair loss questions visit or check to get more information on hair restoratioin techniques.