The History of Hair Transplant Surgery

September 30, 2016 — by Robert True
Tags: Hair Restoration

A modern surgical treatment suiteThe history of hair transplantation surgery and hair loss treatment is unique. It spans the globe, with use in reconstructive surgery as well as elective treatment for balding. Some would argue that modern hair loss treatments were born New York, though they were really a part of major medical innovations around the world.

Let's take a moment to look at the history of hair restoration surgery. You might be surprised to learn just how far back this history goes.

The 1800s: Earliest Attempts at Surgical Hair Restoration

The first attempts at hair restoration surgery can be found in the 1800s. One of the earliest records of hair transplantation dates back to 1822, in which two Germans (Dr. Dom Unger and his student Diffenbach) experimented with transferring hair from one part of the scalp to another.

Dr. Unger's techniques would be used in the later 1800s and early 1900s in order to treat baldness caused by injury and trauma.

1930s and 1940s: The Birth of Modern Hair Restoration Techniques

The first modern techniques in hair transplant surgery can be traces to Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. S. Okuda used grafts of hair-bearing skin on hairless parts of the body as a way of restoring hair to the upper lip, eyebrows, and scalp. Given the global conflict of WWII, Dr. Okuda's work would not be recognized outside of Japan until many years after the war was over.

1950s: First Treatments for Pattern Baldness

The first hair transplant procedure performed specifically to treat male pattern baldness was performed in 1952 in New York City by Dr. Norman Orentreich. Dr. Orentreich coined the phrase "donor dominance", which has since become a basic principle of hair restoration. In simple terms, donor dominance means that the donor graft of hair will exhibit growth even if it is transplanted into a part of the scalp that no longer yields hair of its own.

1960s and 1970s: Hair Plugs

Using the initial findings and research of Dr. Orentreich, initial hair restoration surgeries began. This was the birth of hair plugs, which took punches of donor grafts from one site and placed them into a bald portion of the scalp. Unfortunately, these early attempts at hair restoration were not aesthetically pleasing. Using 4mm punches of hair meant a telltale doll's head look with regard to hair growth. Further innovation would be required to improve hair density and overall aesthetics.

1980s: New Approaches in Hair Grafts

In 1984, there was new approach to hair restoration. This involved taking a donor strip of hair from one part of the scalp and then dividing it into smaller grafts. The use of micro-grafts would greatly improve the overall aesthetics of hair restoration surgery, with better results than the hair plugs of the past.

1990s: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)

While mini-micro grafts were the dominant treatment method of the 80s and early 90s, a new innovation occurred in 1995. This was follicular unit transplantation (FUT). FUT involved the use of microscopic technology to divide a graft into the individual follicular units. These follicular units could be individually placed into the scalp to achieve the most natural-looking hair restoration results possible. Hair density and hairline shape could be carefully customized and formed thanks to FUT.

2000s: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

An alternative option to FUT was developed in the early 2002. This was known as follicular unit extraction, or FUE. While FUT involved the harvesting of a donor strip and the removal of follicular units from that strip, FUE involved removing follicular units from the donor site of the scalp without the need for strip harvesting.

Thanks to the innovations of FUT and FUE in the last 20 years, the results of hair restoration surgery have achieved new heights in effectiveness and natural aesthetics.

Learn More About Hair Restoration Surgery

For more information about hair restoration treatments and how we can help you have a full and healthy head of hair again, be sure to contact our hair restoration specialists today. The team at True & Dorin Medical Group is here to help you look your best and feel great.