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Dr. Christopher Tzermias

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Milestones in the history of hair transplantation

The beginning of hair thinning restoration medically occurred in Japan in 1930. Since then the methods have changed in many ways until today and most modern technique transplant follicular units (FUE).

1930 The Japanese surgeon Sasagawa presents the idea of hair follicles’ transplantation.

1939 The dermatologist Dr. Okuda publishes a real revolutionary method for that period’s medical data and he is the first one to perform self-transplantation utilising small transplants.

1959 The American doctor Dr. Norman Orientreich focused on the study of transfer and re-transplantation of hair from the back and temporal areas of the scalp to the areas showing hair thinning. In 1952 he completed the first surgery of this kind. In 1959, he published a research study entitled “Autografts in Alopecias and other Selected Dermatological Conditions”. Orιentreich’s studies proved that transplanted hair maintain their genetic resistance to hair loss – independently of the area where they are re-transplanted – and continue growing throughout a person’s lifetime.

This was the central point of the “Donor Dominance” theory, which was actually the cornerstone of modern hair transplantation. Briefly, the said theory states the following: “Hair follicles of the area of stable hair growth maintain and transfer with them their genetic identity at the area of hair thinning and they continue growing smoothly”.

1970 Hair transplantations are performed using quite big in diameter transplants, consisting of 20-30 hair follicles resulting in a non-naturally looking result.

1980 The size of the transplants is decreased (12-20 hair follicles). However, the result is not good enough form a cosmetic point of view.

1990 The scientific progress of techniques for hair transplantation goes on with the method of Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), which reproduces the natural progress of hair growing and it can give you a perfectly natural final cosmetic result. In 1995, Bernstein and Rassman introduce the term “Follicular Unit”, supporting that hair transplantation should only be performed through hair follicles’ transfer, since the hair follicles constitute the natural way hair are growing.

The transplants heal within 4 to 5 days, while within a week to ten days it is impossible to realise they are there. In a period of a few months a hair growth cycle has been completed and the patient has a naturally looking hair, something that was not the case in the past.

Hair transplantation should be designed very carefully, while through the use of the available advanced techniques, it is possible to achieve a natural and stable final result.

2002 The next advancement in hair transplantation that is the current method used is FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction). It was firstly described by Masumi Inaba in Japan in 1988, who introduced the insertion of a needle of 1mm to extract the hair follicles.

After this the procedure was performed successfully in patients in Australia by Dr. Ray Woods. In 2002 it was described for the first time in medical literature by William R. Rassman and Robert M. Bernstein in their article “Follicular Unit Extraction: minimally invasive surgery for hair transplantation”.

The philosophy of this method is exactly the same as the previous one, with only one difference in respect to the method of hair follicles’ extraction from the donor area. This means that we do not collect a unified portion which is then separated, but instead we collect many separated hair follicles taken from the beginning of the procedure. Click here to read all the advantages of FUE.