hair transplant scarsHair transplant surgery has come a long way in recent years. The more traditional strip transplant – where a strip of skin was taken from the donor site, from which the hair follicles were removed and trimmed before being transplanted to the new site – has been all but replaced by the follicular unit extraction technique.

What is follicular unit extraction?

Follicular unit extraction, or FUE, is a hair transplant technique where hair follicles are removed individually from the donor site before being transplanted. This can result in less scarring than the strip technique (although a skilled surgeon can disguise the scars from a strip transplant), but has its own drawbacks.

Recently, techniques for FUE have advanced even further, with the introduction of the DaVinci Robot, which can remove the hair follicles more precisely, resulting in even less scarring. Even so, there will be some scarring where removal of the hair follicle has caused trauma to the skin.

Now, hair transplant surgeon Charles Wesley has come up with a new technique that he claims can result in a completely scarless hair transplant.

How can a hair transplant be completely scarless?

Surgeons of the body use laparoscopy to perform scarless surgery – where a tiny incision is made in the tummy button, through which a tiny tube is passed. Wesley claims he can do the same for a hair transplant, by making one tiny (1cm) incision in the donor area, through which his ‘piloscopic’ device can be passed.

The hair follicles can then be removed from beneath the skin, causing no visible trauma to the external scalp. According to Wesley’s own clinical research, the follicles also stand a better chance of survival than with FUE, as more of the stem-cell-containing outer layer can be removed with the follicle. This technique would also be more appropriate for patients of Afro-Caribbean origin, where the unpredictable curl of the hair within the follicle can make it difficult to extract the whole follicle using an external extraction technique.

How soon will this scarless hair transplant surgery available?

Wesley is still awaiting FDA approval of his device and even once this is obtained, surgeons wishing to offer the procedure will need to undergo a lot of training before they would be able to perform the piloscopic technique on patients.

Until that happens, there are a number of options available to minimise the appearance of hair transplant scars, including scalp micro-pigmentation, where pigment can be used to create the very realistic illusion of a hair follicle in the scarred area.

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By Ian Watson

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