It is a lesser known fact that many of today’s cosmetic surgery operations have their roots way back in the depths of time. Facelifts were first trialled in Germany in 1901, silicone breast augmentations date back to the 1960s and nose jobs have been around since ancient times.

Hair transplant therapy

origins of hair transplant surgeryTake hair transplant therapy as another example. Some may think that this one is relatively new? Again, not really…the concept of hair transplantation was first explored by Japanese dermatologist named Dr Okuda in 1939. Findings of Dr Okuda’s research were published Japanese medical journal, with a focus on helping hair re-growth for burns victims, but sadly, before he could really make a name for himself war broke out and he was killed during the Second World War. His work remained largely undiscovered for many years before the first hair transplantation was undertaken in the USA in the 1950s, by a dermatologist called Dr Norman Orentreich.

Dr Okuda, and later Dr Orentreich, realised that the hair that grows on the back and neck of adults is as close as we get to ‘permanent’ hair, and it tends to survive even when hair elsewhere on the head and body is thinning or disappearing. This quickly led them to the realisation that if this hair could be gently persuaded to relocate to a different area of the head, then it could continue it tenacious growth in areas where the natural hair had ceased to survive.

From history to now

This method has survived the test of time and is still the basis of what is practiced today. The early transplant techniques tested on Japanese burns victims evolved into a realisation that hair transplant therapy was an effective solution to male pattern baldness.

Hair transplantation began with relocating strips of hair containing multiple follicles. Although reasonably effective, these strips had to remain very small, otherwise oxygen struggled to get to the centre of the strip and the follicles died, and sometimes the end result was didn’t look very natural. Scarring in the donor area was also a risk with this technique.

Medical advancements

In 1995 this method was challenged by scientists Bernstein and Rassman, who suggested that the most effective method of hair transplantation was to graft follicles individually. This process was more time consuming, but the result was a more even coverage over the affected areas of the scalp.

Transplanting hairs one by one

This process is known as moving a ‘follicular unit’, and is widely practiced today. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, this process is becoming faster, more efficient and more affordable for those who are suffering from hair loss.

Once you’ve got your head around the process, it’s time to sit back and consider the benefits. Processes such as this are getting more efficient as technologies advance, and surgeons are so adept at this type of operation that many people can expect to return to work as soon as the day after they have had hair transplant surgery. Although not all operations are 100% successful, if the hair grafts properly to the transplant area then the result are permanent. Loss of your natural hair may continue around the transplant site, so it does not mean that one fix will rectify all your hair problems forever, but it is a viable step in the right direction if you decide that the surgical route is right for you.



By Ian Watson


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