According to The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), in 1822, the earliest documented successful hair transplantation procedure for treating human baldness took place in Wurzburg, Germany. This pioneering feat was documented by a medical student named Diffenbach, who detailed the experimental surgeries he and his mentor, Professor Dom Unger, conducted on both animals and humans. Their achievement lay in effectively relocating hair from one section of a patient’s scalp to another.
Now, let’s explore the evolution of hair transplantation techniques that are available for both males and females experiencing hair loss.
The Timeline of Hair Transplantation Techniques
Japan pioneered the development of modern surgical techniques for hair transplantation during the 1930s and 1940s. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that these methods gained global recognition. In 1939, Dr. S. Okuda, a renowned Japanese dermatologist, explained how the use of full-thickness grafts containing hair-bearing skin effectively addresses hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, and upper lip.
Then, in 1952, Dr. Norman Orentreich, a dermatologist based in New York, conducted the inaugural hair transplant surgery targeting male pattern baldness.
Following these developments, the field of hair transplantation continued to progress with the introduction of various techniques, including:
In the decades after the early 20th-century breakthroughs, hair plugs gained popularity in hair restoration surgery. This method extracted sizable clusters of hair follicles from the donor area and implanted them into the recipient region. However, it often led to an unnatural appearance.
These plugs were generally sized between 2mm and 4mm, and they resulted in a noticeable pattern and distribution of hair, somewhat akin to the appearance of a doll’s hair.
Mini-grafts and Micro-grafts
In the 1980s, a technique known as “mini-grafting” was introduced. It uses smaller grafts obtained from a strip of donor tissue, as opposed to directly punching them at the back of the scalp. Doctors enhanced this method with “micro-grafts,” even smaller grafts containing 1-2 hairs, especially to achieve a softer frontal hairline. The combination of mini-grafts in the central scalp area, paired with micro-grafts, aimed to create a more natural and authentic appearance.
These paved the way for cutting-edge hair transplantation techniques like Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
During the early 1990s, a transformative hair transplantation technique called FUT began. It eventually replaced the older techniques. Dr. Bobby Limmer first introduced the use of FUT, a technique focused on transplanting natural clusters of hair follicles, known as follicular units.
In the FUT strip harvesting procedure, the doctor numbs the donor area with local anaesthesia. They then carefully remove strips of scalp tissue containing healthy hair follicles. These strips are examined under a microscope to isolate individual follicular units. These units are later transplanted into the areas with thinning hair. The surgical incision is then closed, ensuring that the hairs around it are positioned closely together, reducing the likelihood of noticeable scars.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FUE, or Follicular Unit Excision and Extraction (FUEE), has been a prominent method in hair restoration for the past decade. This technique differs from FUT strip harvesting. Instead of removing a strip of scalp tissue for dissection, FUE involves the precise extraction of follicular units using a specialised punch machine. This approach ensures minimal damage to the hair follicles and results in minimal scarring.
The individual follicular units, composed of the follicle and its supporting tissue, are commonly referred to as “grafts.” Following their extraction, a doctor assesses these grafts under high-powered microscopy. Those deemed suitable are then meticulously arranged and placed in a specialised storage solution known as ‘hypothermosol’. This step enhances their viability before being implanted into areas experiencing hair loss.
Due to its quicker recovery times and the flexibility to harvest grafts from various body parts, FUE has become the preferred choice for many individuals undergoing hair transplantation.
Consult Terra Medical for FUE
Terra Medical Clinic is a medical hair and aesthetic clinic recognised for its hair transplantation techniques for both male and female individuals experiencing hair loss. We perform FUE hair transplants and offer other solutions, too.
In your first consultation, you’ll have a clear understanding of a hair transplant procedure, receive practical tips for pre-and post-procedure care, and develop realistic expectations for the upcoming weeks. Get in touch with us here.