HISTORY OF HAIR TRANSPLANTS
Hair Transplants have changed dramatically over the past 15 years starting with Standard Punch grafts then moving to Mini/Micro grafting and finally ending up with the state of the art procedure Follicular Unit Grafting. It was the desire for naturalness that led to this change.
HISTORY OF CHANGE
- A. STANDARD PUNCH GRAFTS Large Grafts (15-24 Hairs) Small Sessions (50-100 Grafts)
- B. MINI/MICRO GRAFTING Medium & Small Graft (4-12 Hairs) Medium Sessions (400-1000 Grafts)
- C. FOLLICULAR UNIT GRAFTING Tiny FU Grafts (1-4 Hairs) Large Sessions (1500-2500 Grafts)
Original “Old’ Technique – Standard Punch Grafting
I want to state from the outset that this technique is old and outdated and only being discussed from a historical perspective to better understand how more modern techniques evolved. From 1950 to the early 1980s the only procedure available to the public was the technique made popular by Orientreich called Standard Punch Grafting. This procedure used large circular grafts (often called “plugs”) harvested by round punches. Each graft was about the size of a pencil eraser and contained as much as 20 to 30 hairs per graft. Only 50-100 of these grafts were used at a time. These large grafts had to be spaced rather far apart due to the constraints of blood supply and this led to the “dolls head” look commonly associated with transplants of the past. In addition this technique wreaked havoc on the donor area. The punches used to harvest these “plugs” from the donor area often left a scarred checkerboard pattern in the back of the head.
UNATURAL RESULTS WITH OUTDATED TECHNIQUES
Scarring In Donor Area
The only way to resolve this dolls head appearance was to do multiple procedures in an attempt to fill in the gaps between the plugs. Many patients frustrated and disappointed with the initial results simply did not finish the process. Even if patients did finish the process other problems with naturalness occurred over time due to the inefficient use of the limited donor supply. To fill in the gaps, physicians were forced to use up the entire donor supply in a very small area. Very unnatural islands of grafted hair became noticeable over time as hair loss progressed and receded away from these heavily grafted areas.
To make matters worse there was now no donor hair left to fix the situation. It was during this time that physicians learned to appreciate and take into account the progressive nature of hair loss when planning hair transplantation in patients with MPB. . As stated above the technique of Standard Punch Grafting is obsolete and no longer used. Unfortunately many patients with this old technique are still walking around and people mistakenly think that they represent hair transplants today.
Combination Mini-Micro Grafting
The desire to improve naturalness led to the use of smaller grafts. By the late 80’s and early 90’s a technique called Mini-Micro grafting became the standard. Graft size had been reduced to 4-12 hairs per graft. Small slit incisions were now used for the recipient area instead of round punches. The decreased vascular trauma associated with these smaller slit incisions enabled a larger number of grafts to be placed closer together in a single session. Procedure size increased to an average of 400 to 800 grafts per session.
Donor harvesting and graft preparation techniques improved also. Donor tissue was no longer harvested with individual round punches but rather from a single strip of donor tissue (a process called strip harvesting). The harvested strip was subsequently divided into individual grafts. This produced less scarring leaving behind a single linear scar rather than a checker board pattern. Strip harvesting also increased the total amount of hair that could be harvested from the donor area. Mini-Micro grafting was a vast improvement over Standard Punch grafting but the results were still not totally natural under all conditions and room for improvement still existed.
Follicular Unit Transplantation – State Of The Art
By the mid 90’s Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) became the state of the art procedure used in hair transplantation. This revolutionary advance occurred when physicians observed that hair grows and exits the scalp in tiny, naturally occurring groupings of 1-4 hairs called follicular units
FOLLIUCULAR UNIT GROUPINGS SEEN WITH MAGNIFICATION
With this observation physicians began using microscopic magnification to create grafts that keep these natural groupings intact. These 1-4 hair grafts, called Follicular Unit (FU) grafts are so tiny they can be placed in micro-incision about the size of a needle. The reduction in graft and recipient site size allowed for larger numbers grafts to be placed closer together with less danger of vascular trauma. By the late 90’s procedures consisting exclusively of FU grafts could range from1500-2500 depending on the size of the area being treated. FU grafts can be placed at densities of about 20-30 grafts/cm which is significantly closer than with mini grafts.
“FOLLICULAR UNITS” ARE CREATED USING MICROSCOPES
GRAFTS ARE GENTLY PLACED IN INCISIONS
By placing large numbers of these grafts in patterns that mimic nature a totally natural and undetectable result couldbe produced.
- Natural Hairline
- Minimal Donor Scarring
Further Advances In Technique
As time progresses further advances continue to be made in the way follicular unit transplantation is performed. Some of the more current advances include:
- Larger sessions in properly selected patients.
- Placing the grafts at higher densities in properly selected patients.
- The option of using coronal or lateral incisions in the right situation
- Better donor closure techniques that leave less donor scarring such as the trichophytic closure
- Better holding solutions to improve survival
- A better understanding of the principles of naturalness and density leading to better decision making for the individual patient.
The Development of FUE
Over the last few years a very important new innovation in the way hair can be harvested has developed. This is really not a new technique as much as it is a new way to harvest the donor grafts. However it has had a significant impact on the field. For more information about this click on The History of FUE
PATIENT PHOTOSView Photo Gallery
PATIENT VIDEOSView Video Gallery
WEB TESTIMONIALS & REVIEWS
“Thank you very much for your attention. I am very happy with the results of the surgery. After 3 months only I already have full hair coverage in all the affected areas and don’t need to use the hair clips like I used to do for many years. Please give my beast regards to Dr. Shapiro and the team...”Read More