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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 . Other factors,
such as hair color, texture and waviness or curliness may also
affect the cosmetic result.
- In punch grafting, a punch is used to remove small
areas of bald scalp and replace them with plugs of healthy scalp.
- Minigrafting and micrografting involve transferring
only a few hairs at a time . In some cases they are used to
make the hairline created by punch grafting look more natural.
- In strip grafting, strips of bald skin are cut from
the top of the head and replaced by strips of healthy scalp.
- In scalp reduction a portion of bald scalp is removed
and the wound is closed by pulling surrounding areas of the scalp
toward the bare spot. The remaining bald spot can be filled with
transplanted hair plugs.
- In scalp expansion, a balloon-like device is inserted
under part of the scalp and gradually filled with dilute salt
water, causing the skin to stretch and grow so that a subsequent
scalp reduction can cover a larger area.
- Flap grafting is done by removing bald areas and replacing
them with surrounding areas of hairy skin that have been lifted
and swiveled into position. The swiveled portion is left attached
to its original location until a new blood supply is established.
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.
Society of Plastic Surgeons offers additional information.
Consultation with a dermatologist may be helpful in deciding what
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This article was posted on May 12,
replacement surgery. Arlington Heights, IL: American Society
of Plastic Surgeons, 1993.
- Berland T. Baldness 'cures': Does anything really work? Consumers
Digest 32(4):68-70, 1993.