It’s a pretty uniform statement that no one wants to lose their hair. Through the years I have seen people go to wigs, weaving, coloring the scalp (to make the hair look thicker), and other temporary measures. The ideal goal, however, is permanent, natural looking, thicker hair, and the only way to achieve this is with a hair transplant. The problem has been, until now, that a hair transplant is a big procedure and often they look like sprigging the yard with grass—except the hair doesn’t spread like grass. The only way to acquire the hair to transplant has been (until now) to remove a large strip of hair from the back of the scalp where the hair is thick. This required the addition steps of closing the wound with either sutures (stitches), or more commonly, staples. Such scars are often obvious, painful, and leave much of the scalp with numbness. In addition, this obviates wearing your hair short.
The next step is painful for the people doing the transplant! The strip of scalp has to be tediously dissected down to “plugs” with very few hairs per plug, and this can take hours. Finally, the plugs have to be inserted into the pre-planned recipient areas. Generally, the hair falls out of the plugs and then re-grows at about two to three months. On the other hand, if properly performed by someone with lots of experience, it can give a very natural appearance.
Years ago, when I first started my practice in plastic surgery, I performed several hair transplants by this technique and it was uniformly disappointing to the patients and to me, so I stopped doing them. I even went to a few courses on the subject and picked up alternative surgical procedures like scalp reduction, which is basically surgically removing the bald area, and I did a couple of them. This is not a bad technique in very select people, but it leaves a significant scar. If the person becomes balder, the scar is more conspicuous—sometimes very conspicuous, and that’s bad. So I gave it up—until now.
So what’s the new technique? It’s automated and it’s done with a new machine called the NeoGraft. The equipment, with the use of vacuum, removes micro-grafts from the back of the head, each graft containing 1, 2 or 3 hair follicles, and then inserts them into the desired recipient scalp. The advantages are: no scar, minimal numbness, better “take” of the grafts, more natural appearance, a shorter procedure time and up to 2,000 grafts at one sitting, which is enormous. In addition, no dressing is necessary and patients who have had both techniques done say it is “night and day” more comfortable and the down-time is minimal compared to the strip method. With the NeoGraft, I expect the hair transplant procedure will become much more commonly performed in both men and women.
E. Ronald Finger, M.D., FACS
5356 Reynolds Street