Hair transplant surgery originated in Japan. In 1939, Dr. Okuda, a Japanese dermatologist developed a breakthrough process to restore hair loss caused by scalp injuries and for burn victims. He used a punch technique, which involved extracting small sections of hair-bearing skin and implanting these into even smaller holes in the areas where skin had been damaged. Once these grafts healed, they produced hair in areas that were previously bald.
Just a few years later another Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Tamura, improved upon Okuda’s method by minimizing the size of the grafts down to one to three hairs each. He was working with women and restoring hair in the pubic area. The surgery that Dr. Tamura developed is quite similar to surgeries that are still performed to this day.
Because these innovative developments in hair restoration surgery occurred around the time of World War II, they did not become accessible in the U.S. until many years later.
During the early 1950s, New York dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich completed the first hair transplant in the United States for a man who had male pattern baldness. Orentreich faced much criticism for the procedure that he’d developed. His technique was similar to Dr. Okuda’s, and did not render attractive or natural looking results. He did, however, establish that hair on the back and sides of a man’s scalp was not prone to balding.
Hair transplants became a more sought after cosmetic procedure by the 1960s, but because the early procedures were largely ineffective and extremely unnatural in appearance, hair transplant surgery developed a negative reputation which unfortunately plagues the field to this day. It took almost three decades for hair transplant surgeons to develop significant improvements to these early methods.
In the 1990s, follicular unit transplantion was introduced and changed the hair transplant field forever. Finally, the old stigmas could be dismissed and hair restoration could become a viable option for hair loss sufferers.
Today, surgeons continue to improve upon hair transplant techniques. Today’s techniques produce stunning results and are increasingly embraced by hair loss sufferers.
To learn more about what to look for when considering hair transplant surgery, visit the what to look for when considering hair transplant surgery section at The American Hair Loss Association website.
And remember, never underestimate the importance of choosing the right hair transplant surgeon. Make sure your doctor is a member of The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS.ORG).