Dispelling Misconceptions about Hair Restoration Surgery and its Modern Evolution

-by Alex Montague, MD, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration surgeon

As a hair restoration surgeon, I hear it a lot. Something along the lines of, “Hair transplant? Yeah…not for me. My buddy had that back in 1983 and it looked terrible.” And in fairness to this theoretical patient, he’s not wrong. Put simply, there are a lot of patients who underwent hair transplant surgery in its infancy and got poor, unnatural-looking results.

The Stigma of Hair Transplant Surgery

You’ve probably seen these results yourself. Believe me, we see them still, and we actually will correct the old-style results for patients from time to time. But why were people getting bad results? And how have we advanced to be able to provide patients with the natural results everyone craves? It’s high time we talked about it because in plastic surgery, a world filled with stigmas, the stigma associated with hair restoration surgery is one of the worst.

How Hair Restoration was Performed Then

This stigma around hair restoration surgery is unfortunate because so many people, mainly men but plenty of women too, struggle with hair loss and don’t have the courage to seek a procedure because of what they have heard and/or seen from those who underwent surgery back when transplants were new.

Thankfully, hair transplant options have changed, a lot. In short, the advances lie principally in the size of the tissue containing hair that is being transplanted. In its infancy, surgeons would transplant very large grafts from the back of the head and place the entire graft into the recipient area on top of the head. This meant that a lot of follicles were being moved all at once, which sounds nice in theory, but what resulted from this were, for lack of a better term, “clumps” of hair in the recipient site.

The finished results of this method were quite poor, and there’s actually a term that was coined to describe what they looked like, “doll’s hair deformity.” Because indeed, the hair grew in defined clumps that look like the hair on a toy doll. Not the look we’re looking for!

Advances in Hair Transplant Procedures Now

With time, our ability to create smaller and smaller grafts has created more and more natural-looking results. Now, we actually transplant hair follicle by follicle (as opposed to a large graft that might have 10 to 20 follicles “clumped” together). This allows us to place them precisely where we want to, resulting in the hair growing in a properly distributed way. The end result? Perfectly natural results.

Done right, hair restoration surgery should look truly natural; as if your hair just started regrowing in the places where it had been lost. So to all those that are concerned that hair transplant surgery is fraught with bad, unnatural results because you’ve seen some “old-style” hair transplants, fair enough. We hear you, and your concerns are completely valid. But thankfully, the procedures of present-day are aimed at providing natural, individualized results.

For more information on hair restoration surgery, contact our office to speak to a Patient Consultant and schedule a consultation. 

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