Once upon a time, there was little a man could do once he started losing his hair. Early options included wearing a wig or otherwise concealing the hair loss or accepting hair loss as a fact of life. Starting in the 20th century, surgeons developed a new way for men to cope with male pattern baldness.
Hair restoration surgery involves transplanting hair from one area of the scalp (often the sides or back) to the area that is balding. Advances in technique and technology over the years means it’s now more likely that a patient will enjoy a natural looking result without complications.
How Hair Restoration Surgery Has Changed Over Time
Then: Large Grafts
Hair restoration surgery performed before the 1990s typically involved the use of larger grafts. The transplanted hair follicles were harvested from the scalp in grafts that were about the size of a pencil, or about 4 mm in diameter. The larger grafts didn’t produce a natural result at all. Typically, the transplanted hair looked similar to a doll’s hair, as the grafts created a pluggy, uneven appearance.
Now: Tiny Grafts
Starting in the 1990s, hair restoration surgeons began using techniques known as follicular unit grafting (FUG) or follicular unit extraction (FUE). With either FUG or FUE, the surgeon harvested hair follicles in micro-grafts, which were tiny and tended to contained just a few follicles, instead of an entire plugs worth of hair. The micro grafts were able to give patients a much more natural result, as the surgeon was able to place and position each follicle in the same way the hair would naturally grow out of the scalp.
Then: Scalp Reductions
A scalp reduction procedure, which was popular in 1980s and 1990s, is exactly what it sounds like. During the surgery, a portion of the scalp is cut way and the two ends are joined together. The surgery was able to reduce areas of baldness, by actually removing them. But, it also had a number of unwanted results, including speeding up the rate of hair loss and an unnatural appearance, as the remaining hair is no longer growing in the right direction. There was also the risk that the stitched together area would stretch over time, leaving a patient with a large, unsightly scar across the head.
Now: Strip Harvesting or FUE
As FUG and FUE techniques increased in popularity, scalp reductions became less common. FUG procedures typically involve harvesting a strip of scalp tissue from either the back or sides of the hair, then separating the individual follicles from the strip to transplant. Strip harvesting is ideal when a large amount of hair needs to be transplanted at once. FUE, on the other hand, involves removing individual grafts before transplanting them. Scarring is much less visible with FUE than with other techniques.
To learn more about hair restoration in New Jersey and whether FUE or strip harvesting is a good choice for you, schedule a consultation at Contemporary Hair Transplant today.