What Types of Hair Can Be Used for Transplants?
Hair transplant surgeons, like Dr. Epstein, aim to match the texture and thickness of hair in transplant sites as closely as possible using hair taken most commonly from the scalp, but also from other areas of the body.
This requires viable follicles in donor sites where hair has similar characteristics to the hair being replaced.
Here are three of the most common options for transplantation.
From the Head
Areas of the scalp unaffected by pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss are the first choice for donor hair in a transplant.
Follicles at the back of the head are typically unaffected and may be extracted or removed one at a time with the most popular FUE- follicular unit extraction- technique. For restoring the frontal-most hairline and other areas where the finest hairs will look most natural, these donor hairs can come from the very lowest back of the head. Hair on the sides of the head, especially higher above the ears, are also usually a great option.
In all cases, when the FUE procedure is performed properly using the best hand-held drill systems, donor site scarring is typically minimal to completely undetectable.
From the Face
Men with beards – including male to female transgender patients- have another great option for hair transplant donor sites.
Beard hair has a similar thickness and growth pattern to hair on the head once transplanted there and may be used in the absence of a sufficient number of viable scalp follicles.
Although beard hair isn’t the primary choice for transplants because it’s not a perfect match, it provides a viable alternative for men experiencing advanced hair loss from the head. These beard donor hairs can also be used to restore other areas of the beard where more density is desired.
Surgeons can also take hair from the beard and use it to minimize the visibility of scarring in donor sites on the scalp.
These beard donor hairs most commonly come from below the jawline, where as many as 2000 to 3000 grafts can be obtained. Adding the cheek beards and goatee, this can increase the total graft supply to over 6000 grafts. When performed properly- and Dr. Epstein performs on average three of these beard-harvesting cases weekly- healing is complete at just 2-3 days, with typically no visible scarring. These hairs are harvested using FUE techniques.
From the Body
Body hair is generally the last choice for transplanting to the scalp because it tends to be a bit less reliable in regrowth, and can differ sometimes in thickness, texture and growth patterns.
Men – or the transgender male to female patient – can have as many as 4000 to 10,000 donor hairs from such areas as the back and chest, providing an outstanding source of hairs for treating more advanced areas of hair loss. The healing does take a bit longer for these donor areas – typically several weeks – and tiny dot scarring can result from the FUE donor sites. Once transplanted, these body hairs typically will continue to grow quite similarly to scalp hairs.
If you’re planning to have hair transplant surgery, Dr. Epstein will assess your available donor sites and discuss the best course of action with you prior to the procedure. With proper planning, the end-result should be positive regardless of the original location of the donor hair.