The history of hair transplantation is both a long, and a not so long one.
And here is why:
Mankind has always tried to find a solution for hair loss. The history of hair transplantation or the attempts to it date back to very old days to our surprise.
In Ancient Egypt, they tried to find solutions for hair loss with natural remedies.
Other cultures sought other ways to treat hair loss.
The 19th Century
Finally, in 1822 Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach, who was a student of Professor Dom Unger in Wurzburg, Germany published his dissertation where he described hair transplant surgery. Before him, researchers worked on the idea of transplantation of feathers or hair in birds and animals – some studies were conducted. These were not conducted to treat alopecia alopecia.
Dieffenbach was able to transplant a few hair follicles on his arm, and then restore eyelashes. However, other surgeons could not repeat his procedures with the same success. Some others reported hair transplant surgeries, and yet for a while, there were no improvements in the field.
Krusius and Knapp, both German surgeons, performed eyebrow transplant.
The 1930s and 1940s
From Egypt to Germany hair restoration has improved. The studies then moved to Japan in the 1930s. A Japanese doctor, Sasagawa performed eyebrow transplantation using a special needle.
Other Japanese doctors also worked on hair transplantation. Dr. Shojui Okuda, a Japanese dermatologist used a special technique, and needles to perform hair transplantation. His technique was very advanced for its time, and similar to the techniques used today. His findings were published in Japanese journals, however, because they were written in Japan, they did not get worldwide recognition until after the end of the Second World War.
In 1943, another Japanese surgeon, Dr. Hajime Tamuda performed hair transplantation in the pubic region. He used smaller punches than Dr. Okuda.
Dr. Barsky restored hair to hide scars in 1950. In 1953, Dr. Fujita performed eyebrow transplantation in Japan.
It was Dr. Norman Orentreich who introduced the theory of donor dominance which basically means that the hair extracted from the donor area show the same characteristics, when transplanted to the recipient area.
It means that if the hair on the nape is resistant to genetic hair loss, when transplanted to a bald area, they will still be resistant to hair loss.
Orentreich used a 4mm punch method which was not very small. His flap method was used to perform hair transplants until 1975. Until then, the 1960s saw new research published in hair transplantation.
Orentreich’s punch graft method often gave not very natural looking results but rather results that are described as the plug look or pluggy.
Dr. Juri of Argentine used the flap hair transplantation technique. Frankel introduced the injection of saline into the recipient area.
Dr. Masumi Inaba introduced Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). He used 1mm needles to extract the hair follicles. Later in 1989, Dr. Ray Woods performed FUE in Australia.
From the 1960s to 1990s different knives, needles, punches, and graft machines were introduced, and some were thinner. Dr. Bob Limmer introduced the dissection of grafts, and the use of follicular units.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) become popular in 1990s.
In 2002, Dr. Robert M. Bernstein and Dr. William R. Rassman described FUE in their medical publication.
Today, very tiny needles are used in hair transplant surgeries, and FUE is becoming a more popular method due to its pros and benefits.
There is ongoing research about gene therapy and hair cloning but none of these has been fully researched yet. Until then, particularly FUE hair transplantation is a good option to treat androgenetic alopecia.