Constructing a natural-looking hairline using the patient’s own transplanted hair is a labor of skill and artistry for the experienced surgeon. Improperly done and the hairline takes on a harsh appearance that everyone notices.
Keeping Tradition (and Follicles) Alive
The traditional way of performing hair restoration surgery is for the donor follicles to be harvested from the patient’s still abundant hair located on the sides and back of the head. This hair is genetically programmed to be resistant to male pattern hair loss. Two popular types of transplant procedures are Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Grafting (FUG). FUE involves the meticulous taking of individual hair follicles from a productive area of the scalp and then relocating them to thinning areas. FUG is a more invasive approach involving the surgical harvesting of a strip of hair-bearing scalp skin which is then dissected into individual follicular grafts and used to replenish areas affected by hair loss.
Some prefer FUE because of its lack of visible scarring, but FUG often allows for a higher yield. Surgeons and patients alike agree that both techniques allow for exceptional results; however, some are still seeking an alternative.
Is Body Hair Better?
One of the newest hair restoration techniques is called the Body Hair Transplant (BHT). In this procedure the surgeon takes healthy follicles from the skin of the chest, stomach, legs, and face and recreates the patient’s hairline.
The fine, softer hairs found on the leg, for example, are said to be ideal for hair grafts and establishing a more subtle looking hairline. The surgeon not only is able to match the exact degree of hair loss but the texture of the hairline may be more "normal" appearing.
With FUE and FUG there is a risk of depleting the donor supply of follicles. Mixing hair follicles taken from areas of the body other than the scalp provides hundreds of thousands of potential donor grafts.
The Downside of BHT
Traditional surgeons point to serious downsides with BHT. Even when the transplant is successful, the hair remains as short and thin as it was when it was taken from the donor site. And only one out of two grafted hairs usually survives.
Because of the relative sparseness of body hairs, moreover, they can’t be strip harvested. They have to be harvested and transplanted one by one. There is also a risk that the color of the scalp and body hairs won’t match.
Value of the Procedure
Traditional hair restoration specialists believe there is value to BHT. A skillful mix of body and scalp hair often creates a more natural appearance. There is also less risk of depleted donor sites.
While BHT is still largely an experimental procedure, traditional methods like FUE and FUG are founded on many successful outcomes and satisfied patients.
Talk to a physician experienced in hair restoration surgery to find out if you are a candidate for either procedure.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist with offices located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation, or view the excellent results Dr. Choe has achieved in the before and after hair transplant gallery.