History Hair Transplant Treatments
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History of hair transplantation

Hair transplantation is one of the most popular treatments of aesthetic medicine today. It is supposed to help in the fight against baldness caused by both genes and diseases, accidents and injuries. Today, hair transplants are performed on everyone – regardless of gender. The popularity of this procedure caused that it is performed in clinics all over the world. However, the Turkish ones are considered to be the best. They boast world-renowned specialists in hair transplantation, application of modern methods, high-class equipment and comprehensive care. However, it took hundreds of years before hair transplantation became so common, non-invasive and effective. What is the history of hair transplantation? Since when is this procedure performed?

Hair loss treatment – as old as time!

The first references to hair loss treatments appeared as early as 1500 BC. The document that mentions them are the well-known “Ebers papyrus” – the oldest known medical works. They were found next to an Egyptian mummy in Thebes in 1862 and later handed over to the German Egyptologist Georg Ebers in 1873. However, on its basis it is difficult to indicate exactly what the hair loss treatment looked like at the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Hair transplantation – the landmark 19th century beginning of modern history

The beginning of hair transplantation in its modern version dates back to the 19th century. The German surgeon Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach is considered the father of this procedure. In 1822, while still a student, he described an experiment conducted under the supervision of Professor Dom Unger. It concerned transplanting hair from one part of the scalp to another. And although it may outrage us today, the fact remains that the first attempts at hair transplantation were carried out on animals – only in the following years on humans.

To this day, Dr. Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach himself is regarded as a pioneer of plastic surgery. He is not only credited with major contributions to hair transplantation, but also with the first cosmetic nose job. The German surgeon also developed techniques for rhinoplasty and maxillofacial surgery. He conducted his research and operations in Berlin. He also worked at the Charite Hospital.

The Turkish thread – Turkey a world-class hair transplant country

In the 19th century there was another figure who significantly influenced modern hair transplantation. It was Dr. Menahem Hodara, a Turkish dermatologist. He gained world fame when in 1897 he made an experiment in hair transplantation. He performed it at the Central Naval Hospital in Istanbul. The operation was performed on skin affected by so-called favus, or tinea capitis – a disease common in the Middle East in the 19th century.

Dr Hodara implanted hair taken from intact areas of the scalp onto scars that had been bald by favus. According to an article titled “On the growth of hair in favus scars after scarification and implanting of portions of the hair,” Dr Hodara cut the hair from the young patients’ heads and trimmed it with scissors at both ends to a length of 1 to 4 mm. He also made several shallow incisions on the scars that were close together and intersecting. After thoroughly cleaning the area until the bleeding stopped completely, he steeply inserted the hair fragments into the incisions

Dr. Hodara was the first to perform hair transplantation in Turkey

The areas were covered with paper and then with something like plaster. After 4 weeks he removed the dressing. He noticed that although most of the implanted hair had fallen off with it, enough remained to form a base of growth sufficient to cover a large patch. After 3-4 months, some of the remaining hair had become pigmented and strengthened. Hodara conducted microscopic examinations of the implanted hairs. He noticed that they had a normal shape and that new follicles had formed at the base of each one.

He repeated this experiment several times with other patients, each time observing that several hairs took root and grew back. He eventually concluded that his technique could be considered a promising start, even though it was at a very early stage in the future practice of hair transplantation, but that it needed to be improved with new methods and instruments, allowing more regular and deeper incisions for scars. He first presented his findings at a session of the Imperial Society of Medicine in Istanbul on 26 March 1897.

Soon after presenting the results of the experiment, Dr Hodara’s actions received a great deal of international press attention. Some of the operations of the Turkish dermatologist were described under such titles as “Finally, baldness has been conquered” or “No more bald head”.

Today, the Turkish school of hair transplantation is one of the strongest. There are world-class clinics on the Bosphorus where patients come from all over the world. They are encouraged to undergo hair transplantation surgery in Turkey by high-class specialists working in the clinics there, with advanced methods of transplantation, highest quality equipment and complex care. Thanks to Meditravel everybody can get high-class hair transplant results in Turkish clinics. 


The Japanese school of dermatology and its merits in hair transplantation

Despite numerous attempts, studies and experiments carried out in the 19th century, 1939 is indicated as the date of the first hair transplantation. The 1930s, as well as the period of World War II and the time immediately after it belonged to the so-called Japanese school of dermatology. It was its representatives who performed the first modern hair transplantation. The operation was performed by the pioneer of the so-called punch grafts, Dr. Shoji Okuda. In the course of his medical practice he carried out and described more than 200 cases of hair transplantation around the head, eyebrows and upper lips, especially in post-traumatic scars.

Other Japanese doctors influencing the shape of modern hair transplantation are:

  • Dr Masao Sasakawa, who in 1929 described two cases of hair transplantation into the scar;
  • The urologist Dr. Hajime Tamura, who in 1943 published in the Japanese Journal of Dermatology and Venerology a summary of 136 cases of hair transplantation into the pubic region of mainly women.
  • Dr Keiichi Fujita, who in 29153 transplanted scalp fragments into the eyelids of lepers.

American achievements in hair transplantation

In the 1950s, American doctors began to come to the fore. In 1952, Dr Norman Orentreich, a dermatologist from New York, performed the first modern cosmetic hair transplantation procedure. He boasted of his achievements in 1959. In his scientific article, the following terms appeared for the first time: donor area, recipient area, donor dominance theory, recipientdominance theory – they are still used in the aesthetic medicine of hair transplantation today. No wonder that Dr. Norman Orentreich is considered the father of modern hair transplantation.

The crazy 1960s – new discoveries in hair transplantation

The research initiated by Dr Norman Orentreich continued in American aesthetic medicine institutions in the 1960s and 1970s. They worked mainly on hair restoration techniques. In the early days of transplantation, grafts were taken from the occipital region of the scalp in 4 mm diameter flaps. The effect, although satisfactory, was perceived as clearly artificial.

In the 1970s, it was decided to use flaps of free and stalked scalp. This made it possible to cover larger areas of baldness on the head and in the eyebrow area. Dr Jose Juri from Buenos Aires, Dr Patrick Frechet from Paris and Dr Fleming from the USA were the precursors of this treatment method. The advantage of this type of treatment was its high effectiveness, disadvantage was its unnatural appearance. Hair after them grew too thick, in the wrong direction. That is why this method was quickly, already in the 80s of the last century, replaced by the so-called scalp reduction treatments.  The creators of this technique were Morrison, Norwood and Shiell, and the first publications appeared in 1984. A few years later also appeared the extender method initiated by Dr Patrick Frechet. It consisted in inserting a special tool under the scalp, which caused its gradual stretching. Thanks to this it was possible to eliminate significant baldness in the central area of the head.

How did the FUT and FUE methods come about?

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the strip technique also gained popularity. It was based on taking hair from the occipital region in the shape of a strip 15-25 cm long and 1.0-1.5 cm wide. This strip was cut into skin fragments containing 3-5 hairs (later 1-3 hairs – so-called microtransplants). The harvested area was sutured. This technique allowed obtaining very good aesthetic effects and increasing the number of grafts during one procedure.

The above-described technique, based on grafts obtained from a strip, is today known as FUT – follicular unit transplantation. The second currently used method of hair transplantation, i.e. FUE (follicular unit extraction) was created not much later than in 1995. Its creators are dr Ray Wood and dr Angela Campbell. It allows for the so called scarless harvesting of hair from the back of the head and other body areas: chest, back, arms, legs, chin and transplanting them to the balding area. The FUE method initially used so-called manual punches, later electrical ones. In the XXI century, sophisticated and innovative devices are used for taking and inserting hair transplants.

History of hair transplantation in Poland

The history of hair transplantation in Poland begins in 1984. It was then that dr Jerzy Kolasiñski performed this type of procedure for the first time. His commitment, research work in this field, as well as achievements were recognized by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery with the Platinum Follicle award during the last ISHRS congress in Mamia, FL (USA) in 2018.

The first hair transplantation procedures in Poland appeared quite late. This is due to the fact that our country has neither tradition nor much experience in this field. Aesthetic medicine clinics on the Vistula are just beginning to offer this type of treatment and they are far from the experience of those abroad, for example, Turkish ones. It is there, however, that you can count on treatments carried out in accordance with the latest methods, by world-class doctors and in accredited centres. Another advantage of going to Turkey for a hair transplant is the price of the procedure – lower by about 30%.

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