We at Look Natural Hair Restoration are passionate about all aspects of hair restoration. We have seen the outstanding results that can be achieved and we are motivated by the fact that our procedures transform people’s confidence and lives. This is particularly true of our surgical options, called FUT and FUE for the scalp, beard, and eyebrows.
Because we are fascinated by all aspects of this transformational procedure, we decided it was time to take our readers through its history.
Read on to find out more about the history of hair transplants and the world-class results that can be achieved today.
Early Beginnings in Japan
Tracing the early roots of hair restoration history takes us to Japan in the 1930s. Here, a dermatologist called Dr. Okuda first created a new technique, aiming to help burn victims and people with scalp injuries. This technique involved taking round sections of the scalp that still had hair and implanting them into the burned or injured areas. From the new area, the original transplanted piece of scalp would begin to grow new hair.
In the 1940s, another Japanese doctor, Dr. Tamura, pioneered a new advancement in the development of hair restoration. He extracted strips of scalp tissue and cut them into smaller, individual grafts, which he transplanted to repair damaged areas. However, due to Japan’s isolation from the West at this time in history, these discoveries remained within Japan. A different, but similar, method was developing around the same time in America.
Dr. Norman Orentreich was a graduate of the New York University School of Medicine. His work pioneered the concept of “donor dominance”. It was previously believed that transplanting healthy hair follicles to a balding area of the scalp would cause the hair follicles to take on the characteristics of that area – meaning the healthy hair would simply fall out and would not be replaced with new hairs.
However, in his published study, Dr. Orentreich found that the reality was quite the opposite. Transplanted hair continues to display the same characteristics of the hair from the donor area. So, follicles from a healthy area stay healthy, no matter where on the scalp they’re transplanted. Usually, these healthy follicles can be found and harvested from the back or sides of the scalp.
This launched a new era of hair transplantation in America. However, the technique itself still left a lot to be desired. The grafts of skin and hair taken from the back and sides of the scalp were around 4mm large, resulting in circular patches of hair and spaces in between them, which created an unnatural look. These large grafts became known as “hair plugs”, notorious for being easy to spot. However, patients were still willing to get the transplants, as it still offered an improvement in their aesthetic and confidence.
Micro and Minigrafts
Hair transplant methods continued to evolve in America and in the late 1980s and early 90s, micro and mini grafts were common approaches to restoring hairlines.
Mini grafts work by using smaller grafts cut from a strip of tissue, instead of the previous methodology of large “punched out” sections. Micro grafts are even smaller grafts consisting of 1-2 hairs each. In order to achieve a more subtle and natural look, micrografts were used at the hairline, and mini grafts were used to fill out the rest of the scalp.
This combined procedure of micro and mini grafting began to overtake the plug technique, as it produced more natural-looking results. By the mid- 1990s, it was the primary method for achieving desired hair transplant results, though the results were far from perfect.
FUT and FUE
FUT and FUE as we know them today came about in the mid-90s. Concurrent research was being performed by many doctors across the US, who were looking to improve the aesthetics of the traditional hair transplants. Soon enough, a new method was developed, using naturally-occurring units of 1-4 hairs as grafts. This is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). A strip of the scalp is harvested and then dissected in order to obtain the naturally occurring groups of grafts.
This method soon skyrocketed in popularity. It required more skill from the surgeons, but it achieved incredibly natural-looking results. By around the year 2000, FUT was the gold standard method in the hair transplant industry.
Then, further developments evolved as doctors began to think about other ways to remove the naturally-occurring units directly from the donor area. These experts envisioned using an instrument that functioned as a very small “punch”. This train of thought led to the development of the FUE method, which uses a small instrument that leaves only tiny holes in the donor area where the grafts are taken. Then, these many small grafts are transplanted into the recipient area. The small holes from the donor area heal very quickly. These thousands of pin-prick-like extractions and insertions revolutionized the approach to hair transplantation.
Nowadays, the standard hair transplant procedure is quick, easy, and relatively painless. It results in a natural aesthetic and a restored hairline. We here at Look Natural Hair Restoration specialize in both FUT and FUE, in order to help patients achieve these outstanding results.