Hair loss has been a cause for concern almost since the dawn of recorded history. The Ebers Papyrus, discovered at the ancient site of Luxor in Egypt and dating from around 1500 BC, describes prescriptions and invocations for a cure for baldness drawing on medical “knowledge” from thousands of years earlier. Even Hippocrates, the Greek father of modern medicine, experimented with various cures for his own encroaching hair loss, apparently involving opium, horseradish, beetroot and pigeon droppings. Hippocrates’ experiments were, needless to say, unsuccessful.
However, he did note that the eunuchs guarding the king’s harem did not appear to suffer from hair loss, leading to a correct assumption that the hormonal changes brought about by castration were in some way associated with this apparent anomaly.
Indeed, we now know that the presence of the (predominantly) male hormone testosterone explains why, apart from medical conditions such as Alopecia Totalis, men tend to lose hair in later life while women do not, at least not to the same extent.
The birth of modern hair transplants
While various hair restorative tonics have been marketed down the years – with much the same success rate as that achieved by Hippocrates – hair transplantation is now acknowledged as the only achievable method for restoring human hair, with FUE hair transplant technology, such as that practiced successfully in Turkey, at the forefront of modern practice.
The first widely acknowledged successful application of the technique, by a US specialist, Dr. Norman Orentreich, came in the early 1950s, although it seems that his research may have been anticipated in Japan as early as the mid 1930s. An excellent summary of his work appears in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. Orentreich’s technique involved the harvesting of healthy hair from the back and sides of the head transplanted in relatively large (4mm) grafts to the top and front of the scalp. While technically successful, the results of what became known as the “Punch Graft” technique were cosmetically not entirely satisfactory, leading to what some observers called a “doll’s hair look”
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The results obtained from the Punch Graft technique were refined and improved through the mid-1980s as practitioners began to use small grafts of one or two hairs at the leading edge of the larger punch grafts to soften the front of the hairline. This technique, known as “Micro Grafting” was the standard technique until the mid-1990s.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
In the mid 1990s, the use of lasers to literally burn holes in the scalp into which hair could be planted was briefly promoted as a high-tech breakthrough technique. Not surprisingly, this led to excessive damage to the skin, often with scarring and subsequent poor growth and proved, essentially, a blind alley.
The real breakthrough came with the Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) technique, pioneered by Drs. Rassman and Bernstein in the United States in 1995. This method, involving microscopic graft dissection with small numbers of hairs extracted and transplanted in naturally occurring groups, greatly improved the cosmetic results and proved to be a huge leap forward in successful hair transplant technology.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Building on their earlier work, Rassman and Bernstein’s technique developed into the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique. This approach refines the FUT technique, in which strips of hair are harvested, and uses instead individual extraction of hair follicles, leading to a more natural result and almost eliminating the risk of linear scarring. FUE Hair transplant technology requires meticulous preparation and highly skilled practitioners to achieve optimal results. Increasingly, however, it is being seen as the best modern method, involving minimal invasive surgical procedure an ensuring a natural and consistent result.
Having worked as a laboratory technician at Hair Transplant Turkey for many years, Stephen is used to seeing the rich and famous pass through the doctors’ hands, but he never tires of seeing the delight and satisfaction on the faces of the clients at the end results.
The unique mix of east and west has a never-ending appeal for him and his interest as an amateur historian has an almost endless source of research within a few miles of the city.