It’s a pretty fair to say 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 measures all of which are temporary. The ideal goal is permanent, natural looking, thicker hair, and the only way to achieve this is with a hair transplantation. In the past, the problem has been that a hair transplant is a big procedure and often the result looks like sprigging the yard with grass—and if transplanted hair spread like grass, it would be OK. But it doesn’t. 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. Then the wound had to be closed with sutures or more commonly staples. The resulting scars are often obvious, painful, and leave much of the scalp with numbness. In addition, this eliminates 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 several people hours to do. 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 well 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 flaps or scalp reductions, the latter of 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. I always thought the various flaps made you look like you had a carpet on your head, which definitely doesn’t look natural. So I gave up hair replacement of any kind—until now.
What’s the new technique? It’s automated (I call it robotic) 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. It then inserts them into the desired recipient scalp. The advantages are: no scar, minimal pain, minimal numbness, better “take” of the grafts, more natural appearance, a shorter procedure time and up to 2,000 grafts at one sitting, and this 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 guys and gals.
E. Ronald Finger, M.D., FACS
7208 Hodgson Memorial Drive
Savannah, GA 31406