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What's New in Hair Transplant Surgery Over the Last 20 Years?

1/24/2017 9:55:15 AM

Let's face it, follicular unit grafting was developed over 20 years ago and became the "gold standard".  So how, it at all has hair transplantation changed and evolved over the last 20 years? 

Do you remember the old hair transplant or "plugs" of yesterday?  You probably still see them from timme to time, mostly in older men with advanced baldness with a few pluggy looking doll-hairs in the front. Approximately 20 years ago however, the best hair restoration physicians in the field started moving away from the old "mini-grafts" that resulted in unnatural looking "corn rows" and started performing follicular unit grafting.  This new, revolutionary procedure enabled surgeons to harvest hairs in groups of 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s as they occur naturally in the scalp.  By plucking and planting follicular units strategically into balding areas, transplanted hair mimicked nature, making hair loss patients very happy while revolutionizing the hair restoration profession.  It took many years of patients demanding the very best results for most surgeons to catch on, but today, the majority of hair transplant surgeons are performing follicular unit grafting.  But what about today?  What's changed?

Today, follicular unit grafting is still the procedure of choice.  However, a handful of hair transplant surgeons continue to push the envelope and excel by performing larger sessions of densely packed follicular units using minimally invasive tools.  This procedure, known as ultra refined follicular unit hair transplantation has become the gold standard and enables patients to obtain more hair in a single session.  Thus, patients of these hair restoration physician superstars are done in a single session or two unlike the past where it may have taken 5 plus sessions to get it done.  But even ultra refined follicular unit hair transplant surgery has been around for about 10 years.  So what's new since then?

In early 2002, FUE or follicular unit excision (formerly known as follicular unit extraction) was offered by a handful of doctors.  This procedure takes follicular units one by one form the donor area using an extraction device in order to minimize the appearance of scarring. Compared to the gold-standard strip procedure, which involves harvesting a strip of tissue containing follicles and suturing the wound, FUE eliminated the linear scar.  However, hair growth yield was less than acceptable and it took many outstanding surgeons working to improve on and refine the procedure to get it right.

Today, the debate as to whether or not FUE or strip is "better" is ongoing in the patient and physician community.  But most top doctors and educated patients recognize a merit in utilizing both procedure harmoniously in order to maximize the amount of available transplated hair.

Just like the old days, the skill and experience of surgeons vary, as do their results. But todays top doctors continued to improve their procedure.  Tools are becoming even more minimally invasive, scarring is becoming less noticable and in the best hands, patients are getting way better results today than they were 10 years ago. 

Physicians recommended on the Hair Transplant Network have a proven track record of producing world-class results and their results can be viewed on our forum, thanks to clinics and real patients regularly sharing their work and results.

Written and Published By

Bill - Managing Publisher of the Hair Transplant Network, the Hair Loss Learning Center, the Hair Loss Q&A Blog and the Hair Loss Forum