Go Back in Time
You’re experiencing hair loss, and it’s affecting your confidence. You’ve decided to explore hair transplant surgery as an option for restoring the hairline of your youth. At first, you were just thinking about your own hairline, which procedure(s) you’d choose to have, and how you would pay for it. But as you dig in, you might get interested in how hair replacement surgery got started and how it’s changed over time. Why not take a few minutes to learn a little history? You might teach your friends something — and maybe even your surgeon!
How Hair Transplant Surgery Got Started
With its use of stereoscopic microscopes and tiny dissecting instruments to transplant single hair follicles intact, modern hair transplant surgery seems so technologically advanced that many people assume that it’s a new phenomenon. But although the current techniques are indeed recent inventions, hair transplant surgery itself dates back more than a century.
The first hair replacement surgery was done in the 19th century. The technique used was called a scalp flap. Surgeons cut out a hair-bearing section scalp and transferred it, along with its blood supply, to the front of the head. Surprisingly, many of these flaps survived. The next step was to detach a graft from its blood supply and move it — a “free graft.” This operation was also successful in many cases. In fact, scalp flaps continued to be a commonly used technique of hair restoration well into the 20th century, and are still performed in certain cases.
Japanese surgeons made major advances in the field of hair transplant surgery in the 1930s. They successfully experimented with very small grafts (one or a few follicles), to treat the loss of eyebrows or eyelashes. They didn’t use the technique on the head, to treat baldness, but its application would have been obvious…if anyone had paid attention. Unfortunately, the work was not widely published, and few outside of Japan heard about it. Then World War II came and ensured it would stay buried for a while longer. It would be over two decades before the rest of the world got really interested in hair transplant surgery.
In the 1950s, American surgeons debated the phenomenon of hair loss. Many believed that hair transplants wouldn’t work, because they believed in “recipient dominance,” meaning that hair follicles transplanted into a bald area would act like the follicles that were there before and stop making hair. Some surgeons, however, questioned this idea, arguing for “donor dominance.” This idea would mean that transplanted hair would act the same as it had before it was moved, and would grow hair. There was only one way to find out, so a few surgeries were done. Donor dominance prevailed. This had implications far beyond hair transplant, as donor dominance allows healthy skin to be transplanted into unhealthy areas and remain healthy.
Today, You Have Many Options
Doctors have spent many years developing hair transplant surgery, using newer and better techniques and materials. Today, you have a variety of options to help you conceive your child. So if you’re frustrated by your glasses or contacts, there’s reason for hope! Refractive surgery could free you from the hassle and give you improved vision through your own unaided (well, slightly aided, by lasers) eye.