Ending baldness forever. A 50-year progress report.
Hair has been vital to how we look and feel for as long as people have been people. The quest to end hair loss precedes the advent of time.
The first recorded documentation of hair transplantation, dates back to two Japanese dermatologists, Okuda and Tamura, who practiced the procedure of hair transplantation in the 1930s. Unfortunately, their findings were lost to the Western World as a result of World War II.
It was not until the early 1950s, in New York City, that a dermatologist rediscovered and introduced the principles and techniques of modern hair transplantation to the West.
It was the age of Eisenhower. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth President of the United States and our last bald President. Television was new, rock ’n roll was too — and Jonas Salk was developing the first effective polio vaccine Dermatologists began to experiment with the first hair transplants.
What determines whether or not a hair follicle will continue to grow is not its location on the head, but rather the nature of the follicle itself. In other words, healthy DHT resistant hair that is harvested from the back and sides of the scalp and transplanted to the balding areas of the scalp will continue to thrive. The pathogenesis of hair loss is inherent to each individual hair follicle.
The principal — the basic principal behind all hair transplantation — is known as as “Donor Dominance.”
It was the era that showed us the true power of television, we watched Kennedy debate Nixon and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. In medicine, Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant.
Secured in their knowledge of Donor Dominance, surgeons began to perform hair transplants as a cosmetic procedure. Like most new developments, the first attempts were less than perfect. The transplanted hair produced bristle-brush-looking plugs – round grafts generally containing 15 to 25 hairs. More often than not, the results looked worse than just staying bald.
Reagan was president. Lionel Ritchie and Van Halen topped the music charts. In medicine, we began to comprehend the connection between lifestyle and heart disease. Surgeons became more proficient at transplanting organs, but they still didn’t have the hair thing quite perfected.
Hair transplant techniques were refined yielding minigrafts – smaller clumps of 5 to 8 hairs each. A considerable improvement, but still plugs.
In Washington, it was Bill versus Newt. The personal computer unleashed the Internet. Grunge and alternative competed with a new generation of teen pop stars, and we all learned to love lattes.
In medicine, drugs prevailed over surgery as the treatment of choice for myriad conditions — shifting costs in many cases from insurers to consumers, but helping people live longer and manage chronic conditions more easily.
In the area of hair restoration, techniques continued to improve. Grafts continued to get smaller, and more grafts were transplanted per session. By the end of the century, the majority of hair surgeons transplanted minimicrografts of 1 to 8 hairs and generally transplanted 200 to 800 grafts per procedure.
While this represented a huge improvement over those gigantic plugs of old, the transplants were still rather easily detectable – not the desired result.
Hair Transplantation Today
As the go-go 1990s turned into the oh-oh 2000s, cell phones became our gateway to the wireless Internet, and we began to make strides against cancer and AIDS.
In the field of surgical hair restoration, Microscopic Follicular Unit Transplantation – the ideal form of hair restoration surgery took root. The
clumpy plugs of old have been replaced with naturally occurring individual follicular units. Along with a select group of pioneers in the field, Dr. Pistone has perfected this revolutionary procedure. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) not only produces the most natural, virtually undetectable results, it
also preserves the all important donor supply. Unfortunately, even though the technique of Microscopic Follicular Unit Transplantation exists, many
surgeons today still practice the faster and easier technique of mini-micrografting.
History marches on and so will Dr. Pistone, as he continues to refine his technique and adopt the very latest technology for decades yet to come.