The Origins of Hair Transplants
In 1822, Professor Dom Unger worked with one of his medical students, Johann Dieffenbach, in an effort to transplant hair from one area of the head to another. Their goal was to prove that baldness could be reversed. Later known for his contributions to facial plastic surgery, Dr. Dieffenbach’s foray into hair transplants was one of his first successes.
Advancements in Hair Transplants
It wasn’t until the 1930s that hair transplants really took off. Dr. Okuda of Japan was one of the first surgeons to really bring hair transplants to the forefront. His goal was to transplant pubic hair in patients who were embarrassed by their appearance when they had to bathe in public, a common practice during that era. Dr. Okuda’s success was mirrored by Dr. Tamura four years later.
The success of hair transplants hit the United States in the late 1950s when Dr. Norman Orentreich transplanted donor grafts to patients experiencing balding. His goal was to prove that if a healthy hair follicle was transplanted to a bald patch, the transplanted hair would carry the same properties as the area of the body they came from. Until he proved his theory, people felt that transplanted hair would take on the properties of the original hair in the bald area. By proving his theory of “donor dominance”, Dr. Orentreich really opened the door to hair transplant surgeries.
At the time, the donor grafts were round plugs measuring two to four millimeters. Holes were created in the bald area, and the plugs were transplanted. This lead to uneven and unnatural results, however. Surgeons worked to refine a method that would make the donor grafts as tiny as possible, and have only one or two hairs. In 1984, Dr. Headington discovered that one hair follicle contained upwards of four hairs instead of the single hair people believed came from one follicle. This led to follicular-unit transplants and more natural looking results. Today, follicular unit transplanting is provided through two techniques: the “strip or follicular unit grafting, and the FUE or follicular unit extraction technique.
Breaking News in Hair Transplants
In October, 2013, news hit the media that the first step in cloning healthy hair follicles was completed. While hair transplants take hair follicles from one area of the scalp and move them to another, researchers have been trying to come up with a way to grow new hair follicles.
Doctors at Columbia University Medical Center and Durham University in England have been attempting to clone hair follicles and transplant them successfully. In a series of trials, the doctors had five of their seven tests yield successful results. There is still plenty of work to be done. For now, the procedure is not cost effective and has to be tested in humans, but years from now, cloned hair follicles could be the new form of hair transplants.
Read patient testimonials and see how hair restoration surgeries can change a person’s life. Dr. Jeffrey Epstein of the Foundation for Hair Restoration provides hair transplants for men and women. With offices in both New York City and Miami, Florida, patients find it easy to arrange a consultation with the doctor. Call (212) 759-3484 to schedule an appointment in the New York office or (305) 666-1774 in the Miami office. Dr. Epstein also offers virtual consultations for out-of-town patients.