While a healthy head of hair is pretty much always in style, trends for body hair tend to come and go. For a while, it seemed as though everyone was waxing or shaving their chest, creating a smooth look. The hair-free look was quite the opposite of the style favored a few decades ago, when a hairy chest was in vogue.
If you have chest hair, it could come in handy if you start to experience hair loss on your scalp. While in most cases hair restoration is performed by transplanting hair from the back or sides of the head to the balding areas on top, there might be some instances when transplanting hair from the chest, or another part of the body, might make more sense.
Who’s a Good Candidate?
A chest to scalp hair transplant won’t work for every patient, nor does the surgery make sense for every patient. If you are experiencing male pattern baldness and have plenty of hair on the sides or back of your scalp, a traditional hair transplant, using hair from your scalp, simply makes more sense and is less complicated for the surgeon to perform.
But, if you have already had a number of hair transplants and don’t have much hair remaining on the sides or back of your head, it might be time to start harvesting donor hairs from elsewhere. Using body hair as the donor hair also makes sense if your hair loss has been all over your head, instead of confined to the top or to the typical pattern of male baldness.
For the procedure to work, you also need to have a fair amount of viable hair on your chest. If you’re naturally smooth chested, the procedure is a no-go. But, if you have a small amount of hair and don’t particularly care about having a hairy chest, you may be a good candidate for the procedure.
How Is Chest Hair Different From the Hair on Your Scalp?
Few hair restoration surgeons perform body to scalp transplants, for a few reasons. Body hair isn’t the same as the hair on the scalp, which can present a few problems to a surgeon who doesn’t regularly perform the procedure or who isn’t familiar with the way body hair grows.
Body hair grows at different angles across the chest, making it more of a challenge for the surgeon to extract it. While some people do have chest hair that closely matches the hair on their scalp, others might have curlier or coarser chest hair, making it less likely to match the hair on the scalp- however what typically is seen is that these chest hairs start to grow more and more like scalp hairs once transplanted there.
What Happens During Surgery
If chest hair is to be used as donor hairs, it is removed from the area using follicular unit extraction (FUE), not follicular unit grafting (FUG). During FUE, the hairs are removed individually, instead of in one long strip, using a punch tool. The punch tool removes just a tiny amount of skin, so that the scars are barely if at all noticeable after the procedure is over.
Before removing the donor hairs from the chest, the surgeon will typically shave the patient’s chest. Doing so makes it easier to extract each hair follicle. After the donor hairs are removed, they are transplanted to the scalp. The surgeon will position the hairs in such a way that as they grow back, they look natural — as though they belong on the scalp.
The location of the transplant depends on a patient’s needs. While some patients receive body hair on the top of their scalp, there’s also the option of transplanting the hair to the back or sides of the scalp. In some cases, a patient might have body hair transplanted to replace the hair that was moved from the back or sides of the head during an earlier hair restoration surgery.
As with a scalp to scalp transplant, it does take time for the results from a body to scalp transplant to appear. The newly transplanted hairs will first fall out, then begin to regrow again after a few months. Typically, people see regrowth within 8 month’s time. It’s worth noting though, that body hair to scalp transplants usually aren’t as successful as scalp to scalp transplants. Although there might be less regrowth when hair is transplanted from the chest to the scalp, many patients see growth of at least 70 percent of the transplanted hairs.
A body hair to scalp transplant is complicated. Not every surgeon offers it. If you are running out of options and want to get a fuller head of hair, turn to Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, one of the few hair restoration specialists to offer chest to scalp hair transplants. Dr. Epstein has offices in Miami and New York City, and can consult with you even if you live out of town, over email or by phone. To reach his practice in New York, call (212) 759-3484 today. For the Miami office, call (305) 666-1774.