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Chicago Hair Institute

The History of Hair Transplant Surgery

By Dr. Raymond Konior on September 18, 2018

Hair restoration surgeryCountless people from the greater Chicago, IL area have visited hair restoration specialists Dr. Raymond Konior and Dr. Sahar Nadimi. The doctors have years of experience performing surgical hair loss and suggesting non-surgical treatments for baldness. Yet all that we do at the Chicago Hair Institute is built on decades of work by other doctors and surgeons from all over the world.

It’s with this in mind that we would like to consider the history of hair transplant surgery. It goes back further than you may have thought.

Attempts at Hair Restoration in the 19th Century

While major innovations in hair restoration are a century old, the principles behind hair restoration are rooted in skin grafting, a surgical practice that was used for reconstructive matters since the ancient world.

One of the first ever hair transplant surgeries was performed by the Turkish physician Dr. Menahem Hodara in 1897. To treat hair loss caused y favus, Dr. Hodara took hair and scalp tissue harvested from unaffected parts of the scalp and placed them on the scars left by favus, with successful results.

Innovations in Japan During the 1930s-1940s

Further innovations in hair restoration would be made in Japan in the first half of the 20th century.

In the 1930s, Dr. Shojui Okuda worked on hair transplant techniques for the eye lashes, pubic area, and eyebrows. He perfected a punch graft technique, which took small punches of skin with hair measuring 1mm to 4mm in diameter. These punch grafts were transplanted to other parts of the body as needed to restore hair.

In the 1940s, a Japanese dermatologist named Tamura refined the punch technique, using incisions to separate the punch graft into smaller units for transplantation. This would eventually become a major and modern surgical method, but Tamura’s technique would take decades to become mainstream.

The First Hair Transplant for Male Pattern Baldness

In 1952, New York dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich performed the first ever hair transplant surgery to treat male pattern baldness. Previously, thoughts were that the transplanted hair would act like the original hair along the bald portion of the scalp and be shed. This transplant proved that the donor region hair would remain in place along a bald portion of the scalp.

The Development of Hair Plugs

Using the previous innovations made throughout the 20th century, hair plugs became the dominant form of hair restoration surgery for the next two or three decades. The 2mm to 4mm plugs achieved okay results relatively speaking, though they resulted in an obvious pattern and hair distribution that many likened to a doll’s hair.

Strip Excisions and Micrografts

In the 1980s, two more modern approaches to hair restoration were developed. One was strip excisions, which took a strip of donor grafts from the back of the scalp to restore the bald portion of the scalp. The other method involved the use of micrografts, which meant that strips of donor grafts could be dissected into smaller grafts with the aid of a microscope.

These innovations have results in the development and refinement of modern Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

21st Century Refinements of Technique

In the last two decades, further refinements of FUT and FUE techniques have been made to improve the natural appearance of the hairlines. This includes paying attention to the angle of the hair follicles and how to be place, position, and stagger the follicles to simulate natural hair growth.

Learn More About Hair Restoration

If you would like more information about modern hair loss treatments and how they can help you, be sure to contact our team of hair restoration specialists. The Chicago Hair Institute team is here to help. You can reach our practice by phone at (630) 932-9690.

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