Evolution of Hair transplants

From using hair plugs for hair restoration in the 1950s to using robots to do the job in the 21st century, hair transplant treatments have come a long way. Since its introduction in 1952 by Dr. Norman Orentreich, hair transplantation procedures have seen exponential evolutions in techniques as well as the treatments undertaken by the doctors. And over the years, with each new technique and with the treatments being accessible even in developing countries, the cost of treatment has also reduced drastically.

Evolution of Hair transplants

It has now become more affordable for even the common man to get the treatment done. There are certain countries where cosmetic surgeries like hair transplant are cheaper as compared to others.

For instance, cost of hair transplant in Mumbai, India is much less than the amount you’d pay for the same procedure in a place like New York, USA or London, England. All of this has been possible due to the gradual evolution of hair transplantation. Through this infographic we take a look at the past, present and future of hair transplants.

As mentioned above, Dr. NormanOrentreich performed the first hair transplant surgery in 1952 to treat male pattern baldness. This was a revolutionary achievement for that time because prior to that no one thought that hair restoration for treating baldness was possible surgically. He introduced the concept of “donor dominance”, a principle which explains why healthy hair from the back of the scalp is resistant to balding and continues to grow even after transplantation.

But during that time the procedure was in its early stages and the grafts of skin and hair that were extracted were quite large which popularly came to be known as hair plugs due to their size. But they were nowhere near as good as being natural andfor the next 30 years, this was the only surgical option available and patients had no choice but to accept this not-so-natural outcome.

Things started changing in the 1980s when doctors started experimenting with smaller grafts cut from a strip of donor tissue. This technique came to be known as “Mini-Micro” grafts technique and was formally introduced in 1982. This solved the problem of unnatural looking transplanted hair to some extent but still were far from looking as natural as normal hair.

Then came a revolution in the field of hair transplantation when in 1995 Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT technique was introduced. Dr. Rassman and Dr. Bernstein came up with the idea of transplanting only those grafts which comprised of one to four hairs and were naturally-occurring. This technique was initially met with skepticism and the restoration community was resistant towards adopting this process but with patients showing a positive response and giving testimonials of achieving greater results, many surgeons had to adopt the technique and by 2000s FUT technique became a mainstream procedure.

Now that FUT hair transplant became the most widely used technique for hair restoration, it still did not fully utilize Dr. Norman Orentreich’s original idea of harvesting grafts directly from the back of the scalp and not from a donor strip. In 2002, even this was achieved after the introduction of Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE technique which once again revolutionized hair transplant treatment. It was now possible to harvest follicular units direct from the donor area and transplant them on the recipient area giving a more natural look. This technique reduced the time required for healing after surgery and left no visible scars behind but required a surgeon to be more skilled, hence, being a bit more expensive than FUT hair transplant. But it finally proved to be a worthy technique which doctors all around the world were trying to achieve for the last 50 years.

FUE was further enhanced in 2011 when Robotic FUE was introduced and implemented to achieve greater levels of precision and efficiency.

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