Hair Surgery History

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If you’ve ever wondered about the history of hair loss surgery, it’s important to note that balding is not a new phenomenon. In the 1700’s, men wore curly powdered wigs to hide their affliction, but nowadays people have other options.

Unfortunately, many modern hair systems, such as high-end wigs and toupees, need constant maintenance. They may be excellent solutions for completely bald people, but for those with adequate donor follicles, hair transplantation surgery is a far more efficient option.

Hair Loss Today

The fight to stop balding continues. However, this has not prevented people from spending millions every year on so-called cures for hair loss. There’s been so much misleading information that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now bans claims that a product can regrow hair, unless it’s proven to be effective.

To date, there are only two products which have been licensed by the FDA, namely:

  1. PROPECIA
  2. REGAINE

High and Low Points in Hair Surgery History

While surgeries are commonplace now, they’re still less than 100 years old. In one of the first ever documented success stories, a Japanese dermatologist moved hair from the back of the head to areas of the face in 1939. However, this remarkable event was overshadowed by the outbreak of World War II.

Fast forward to 1959, when “father of modern hair-transplantation” Dr. Norman Orentreich, developed the theory of donor dominance. His concept maintains that follicles in certain areas of the head are genetically encoded to continue growing, even when transplanted to another part of the scalp.

Based on this, Dr. Orentreich pioneered relocating large plugs of skin, which contained up to 20 hair follicles. While groundbreaking in its day, this way of treating baldness sometimes created an unnatural hairline characterised by a “Barbie doll” appearance. The surgery was also painful and bloody, often leaving significant and visible scarring.

Other forms of surgical hair restoration, that are more harmful and invasive than successful, include:

  • Sewing flaps of hair-bearing skin onto balding areas
  • Implanting artificial hair into the scalp

Fortunately, specialists in the field were actively searching for better techniques, with the aim of getting more natural results.

Modern Solutions

Since the late 1980s, hair transplant surgeons have been using increasingly smaller grafts. Nowadays, these contain one to three hair follicles, and are used in every transplant session. They help to give natural heads of hair, so the patient looks good even when the wind is blowing or they’ve just climbed out of the pool.

What’s more, there’s minimal discomfort during and after the procedure.

The era of modern hair replacement surgery is now with us, and you can find outstanding solutions right here in South Africa.