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History of hair transplantation

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

What is the History of Hair Transplantation?

Hair transplantation as a procedure is only about 100 years old. Early on in the 20th century, there were few options to remedy the balding scalp. There were some crude surgical flaps that left unsightly scars and unnatural results. Hair transplantation started in Japan initially with taking hairs from the back of the scalp using large punches and transplanting them to the balding spots. This technique took hold and in the 1950s was introduced to the western world.

However, these macro-grafts were large and fake in appearance. The grafts gave a doll's hair look and were easily spotted as a transplant. Throughout the 70s and 80s attempts were make the size of the grafts smaller and smaller so that the results appeared to be more natural.

Eventually, the techniques progressed to use a strip of scalp hair from the back of the head and to use magnification to separate hair follicular units for transplantation. This strip technique has been given the name Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). Using follicular unit transplantation technique, hair follicular units with one, two, three or more hairs were transplanted in a manner that resulted in a perfectly natural hair line and new hair. The FUT technique became the gold standard of treatment for hair transplantation and hair transplantation became accepted worldwide as the best method to regrow hair where there was none. The only limitation of the FUT technique remained the linear scar in the back of the head.

At the turn of the century, advancement in technology gave rise to another evolution in hair transplantation. Using new technology, we were able to harvest individual follicular units from the back and the side of the head and transplant the accordingly. This technique is called the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique. The FUE technique allowed for the natural hair transplantation results similar to FUT but without the linear scar that followed it. The FUE technique has become the new gold standard in hair transplantation.

Recently, advancements in robotics and augmented reality have given promise to yet another advancement in hair transplantation. Even further down the line, cloning promises to be the next revolution in hair transplantation. It may be that in a not-so-distant future, hair transplantation may be available to everyone, even those with very little donor hair.

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