Are Hair Transplants Permanent?

8/15/2019 7:28:36 PM

Are Hair Transplants Permanent

Dealing with hair loss sucks! Having to live under a hat, not being able to go swimming and hating windy days. The number of products that claim to cure hair loss permanently are extensive, but the products that actually work can be counted on one hand. 

Surgical hair restoration has been known to be the most effective treatment for genetic hair loss, but is it permanent? In this article, we will be discussing the history of hair transplantation and whether the hair is permanent.

Hair Transplant History

In 1939 a Japanese dermatologist by the name of Dr. Okuda began transplanting hair for burn victims. He described using a punch technique extract large grafts, which were then implanted in holes the same size. In 1943 another Japanese dermatologist refined Dr. Okuda's technique by using a significantly smaller punch and creating smaller recipient holes. 

Due to World War II, this revolutionary surgical procedure was unknown to western medicine. It wasn't until after the war in 1952 that an American surgeon by the name of Dr. Norman Orentreich would perform the first hair transplant surgery on a man suffering from male pattern baldness. He performed the procedure based on his theory of donor dominance. 

Donor Dominance Theory

Dr. Norman Orentreich would go on to publish his findings in the Annals of New York Academy of Science.  His findings supported the theory that the hair located on the back and sides of the scalp are resistant to androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss) when transplanted to the top of the scalp. 

Hereditary hair loss is triggered by the hormone DHT. DHT binds to the androgen receptor sites of these genetically vulnerable follicles and gradually degrades the hair follicles until they no longer grow. As the hair follicle is being attacked by DHT, the growth cycle becomes shorter and the hair follicles themselves become thinner and shorter. This process is called miniaturization or thinning. 

Modern Day Hair Transplant Surgery

Unfortunately, the technique performed by Dr. Norman Orentreich was similar to that of Dr. Okuda, who used large punches that weren't refined or aesthetically pleasing. This is what coined the term "hair plugs" it wasn't until the mid-1990s that surgical hair restoration entered a renaissance period where the grafts began to get smaller from mini-grafts, micro-grafts to what is transplanted today follicular unit grafts. 

Now to answer the question are hair transplants permanent? Yes, depends on where the hair is extracted. There is a universal "safe" zone on the back of everyone's head that remains intact even in the most severe hair loss cases. However, not everyone has a stable permanent donor zone. 

Some individuals suffer from Diffused Unpatterned Alopecia (DUPA). This condition affects the entire scalp including the back and sides of the scalp. If a patient with DUPA receives a hair transplant the transplanted hair may not be permanent. 

However, a qualified hair transplant surgeon has the tools necessary to ensure the patient is a viable candidate for surgery. If the patient isn't suffering from DUPA the hair on the sides and the back of the scalp are permanent and will last a lifetime. 


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    All Articles by Melvin Lopez

    Melvin is an Associate Publisher and Forum Moderator for the Hair Transplant Network and the Hair Loss Learning Center. He is a 3-time hair transplant patient, having received over 5,000 grafts via FUE. He has thousands of helpful posts on the popular hair restoration network discussion forum. Melvin writes articles, moderates the hair loss forum, and creates YouTube videos for the Hair Transplant Network YouTube channel. View Melvin's impressive hair transplant journey HERE.