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Hair Implant Surgery

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Hair implantation (also called hair transplantation) is a form of cosmetic surgery in which patches of skin containing healthy hair follicles are transplanted or shifted into areas that are bald or becoming bald. The procedures include punch grafting, strip grafting, scalp reduction, scalp expansion, and various types of flap grafting. Sometimes, two or more techniques are used to achieve the best results. The best candidates for these procedures are people with healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head that can be used as donor areas [1]. Other factors, such as hair color, texture and waviness or curliness may also affect the cosmetic result.

These procedures cost thousands of dollars and are often unsuccessful. Sometimes the areas from which the grafts are taken fail to regrow hair properly. Even successful transplants do not last indefinitely, because the transplanted hair lasts only as long as it would have at its original location. A hairpiece, wig, hair weaving, or simply accepting one's baldness may be a better choice.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers additional information. Consultation with a dermatologist may be helpful in deciding what to do.


  1. Hair replacement surgery. Arlington Heights, IL: American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 1993.
  2. Berland T. Baldness 'cures': Does anything really work? Consumers Digest 32(4):68-70, 1993.

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This article was posted on May 12, 2002.