The History of Hair Transplant Surgery

by Staff Writer

Hair transplant surgery originated in Japan. In 1939, Dr. Okuda, a Japanese dermatologist developed a breakthrough process to restore hair to those who suffered with scalp injuries and for burn victims. He used a punch technique, which involved extracting small sections of hair-bearing skin and implanting these into small 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 to restore hair in the pubic area lost to either genetics or trauma. The surgery that Dr. Tamura developed is quite similar to surgeries that are still performed to this day.

Because these innovative developments in hair transplant 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 the ravages of DHT and male pattern baldness.

Hair transplant procedures became more common by the 1960s, but because of the less than pleasing results of the early punch graft procedures developed and marketed my doctors like Norman Orentiech, hair transplant surgery developed a negative reputation. It took almost three decades for hair transplant surgeons to develop significant improvements to these early methods.

In the 1990s, follicular unit micro grafting was introduced and changed the field of hair transplants forever. Finally, the old stigmas could be dismissed and hair transplantation could become a viable option for hair loss sufferers who were appopraite candidates.

Today, surgeons continue to improve upon methods for performing hair transplant surgery. Today’s state of the art techniques can 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 surgical hair restoration section of the American Hair Loss Association’s website.

Also, to find a qualified hair transplant surgeon check with The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons.

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