While surgical procedures in the past have had mixed and often unflattering results, modern surgical solutions to hair loss and balding have markedly improved – rendering a permanent, natural-looking result. The new successes of today, along with the revolutionary methods for repairing the errors of the past, are now becoming widely known and the reputation of the hair surgery industry is advancing rapidly. In fact, in 2008 over 250,000 restoration surgeries were performed worldwide, up from 168,000 only four years earlier. There can be no doubt that a large part of this increase is due to the good results being achieved.
From the earliest known attempts in the 1820s to the mid-1990s, numerous drawbacks plagued attempts to remedy hair loss .During the mid-1990s, however, the field made a revolutionary leap introducing a number of successful surgical procedures which resulted in hair transplants that are nearly impossible to distinguish from “natural” hair, as the procedure uses the patient’s own natural hair implanted exactly the same way it naturally grows. Importantly, the results are permanent without need for maintenance. Surgery is now truly a solution to hair loss, but there are still many limitations to hair transplant procedures and not all hair loss sufferers are good candidates for this procedure (this will be discussed in more detail later in the chapter).
Modern hair transplantation is a rapidly growing industry due to its effectiveness. Techniques like strip harvesting and follicular unit extractions revolutionized the field and replaced the poor results of large plug methods of the past. The use of microscopic instruments allowed for much smaller groupings, which leave minimal to no visible scarring from surgery, and resulted in an aesthetically pleasing outcome. In fact, the small micro blades used for the hair placement are now so small that only a skilled hair transplant technician can fit the hair into the incision which today is similar to a paper cut and allows the skin to heal very quickly as well as closing the graft and protecting in the scalp.
This chapter demonstrates the advances that have been made in hair restoration and outlines the procedures and options available today. We’ll first review three early techniques which rendered some improvement, but which generally had poor results and long-term ineffectiveness. We will also look at modern methods of transplanting, and techniques for repairing errors of older work. And finally, this section will provide information to help you find the right doctor and team to assure value and quality work for your money.