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The history of hair transplant

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The history of hair transplant

Alopecia is a widespread phenomenon that affects many people. While some can live very well with hair loss, others seek solutions such as a hair surgery. But the desire to have dense hair is not just a will of the modern era. People have been thinking about baldness treatments for centuries.

Hair implants are currently considered one of the most effective methods to recover lost hair. But it took actually many years of research to perfect the FUE and DHI technique. Here is a brief overview of the history of the hair transplant surgery.

Beginnings in the land of the rising sun

The history of hair transplantation dates back to 1930 in Japan. Dr. Sasagawa is considered to be the first to make attempts to transplant hair follicles into human skin.

Nine years later another Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, describes a new method of hair transplantation. In this he proceeded to remove the scalp from the healed areas of the eyebrows or upper lips of burn victims. These newly grafted hair began to grow naturally again.

Unfortunately the war overshadowed his research for what would be later known as the punch technique. For transplantation, he used hair follicles two to four millimeters in diameter. However, compared to the current hair transplant, this method was still very primitive and left scars on the treated areas.

The origins of the strip technique

The next chapter in the history of hair transplantation was written in 1943. Also in Japan with the dermatologist: Dr. Tamura. This time the method consisted in using smaller grafts, containing one to three hairs each. He made them by cutting a spindle-shaped band into the scalp.

The technique was very similar to the one being used until now – the strip method. Dr. Tamura published the results in various Japanese medical journals. But also because of the Second World War, these results were ignored for a long time in the Western world.

The New York premises of the FUT method

Another milestone in the history of modern hair transplantation was achieved in the US in 1959. Dr. Norman Orentreich found that there were areas on the head that were spared by hereditary alopecia. As a rule, the remaining hair forms a crown located at the back of the head. These have the advantage of maintaining their longevity, unlike where the hair is already failing.

From this capillary ring Orentreich extracted the roots of the hair, which he then transplanted to the bald areas. The American doctor used a metal cylinder to take four-millimeter grafts from the donor area. He then transplanted these into the bald areas where they grew back rapidly.

These discoveries marked the beginning of the era of aesthetic hair transplant surgery. The same techniques are still practiced by doctors around the world and used by more and more patients. The methods developed by Orentreich and Okuda became the norm for the next 30 years. There was no significant progress in the history of hair transplantation during this period.

Towards more natural hair transplants in the 1980s

Until the 1980s, however, hair grafted with the punch method of was not highly popular. Newly placed hair often seemed very unnatural, usually called the “Barbie doll” effect. As a result, several physicians began using even smaller micrografts (one to four hair follicles).

This breakthrough in the history of hair transplantation made the procedure even more popular. Unfortunately for many patients, grafted hair still did not seem to give the natural results they craved for.

Dr. Carlos Oscar Uebel

The aforementioned Strip method was also re-examined in the 1980s by the Brazilian scientist Dr. Carlos Oscar Uebel. He used a contiguous band from the donor area instead of individual grafts. He did this with a scalpel with which he divided the band, which he then reintegrated into the receiving areas.

The discovery of follicular units

The story of hair transplant continues thanks to Dr. Bob Limmer. He made a discovery – probably by chance- when looking at grafts under the microscope. He could see that the hair, by nature, does not grow individually but in small groups.

These follicular units consist of one to three – or in exceptional cases, four – hair follicles. This discovery proved that the use of those as grafts, gives a much more natural appearance to grafted hair than the techniques used so far.

1990s: the beginnings of the FUE transplant

In the 1990s, most hair transplant institutes replaced the “punch” method with that of the “strip”. At the same time, Australian doctors Dr. Angela Campbell and her brother Dr. Ray Woods discovered a new way to extract hair follicles. They made this breakthrough by observing that cutting large bands of the scalp caused unnecessary pain to the patients.

Dates to remember from the history of hair transplantation

  • 1930 : the Japanese doctor Sasagawa launches the first experiences of hair transplants
  • 1939 : the Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, develops the punch technique
  • 1959 : The American doctor Norman Orentreich becomes the precursor of modern hair surgery
  • 80s and 90s : the FUT graft improves and evolves

Current state and future of hair transplant

The FUE hair surgery technique developed by Campbell and Woods has since been improved by the doctors Coen Gho (Holland), Robert Jones (Canada), and Dr. John Cole (USA) shortly after the turn of the millennium. They improved the process of their Australian colleagues by adapting it to mass use.

But the history of hair restoration continues to evolve. For example, scientists are currently working on how to perfect the tools for capillary surgery. The latest advances have also led to the development of Artas, a robot specialized in hair transplants. Also new advances in postoperative dermatology allows better treatment of the affected skin areas.

Instead of a scalpel, they used of thin needles and thus perfected the extraction of follicular units. This method, more comfortable for patients, is now known as the FUE hair transplant (Follicular Unit Extraction). It became popular in the early 2000s, and has become the technique of choice all around the world.


As you have just read, the history of hair transplantation dates back to the last century. From the beginnings in Japan, to the many years of development that made hair implants become what it is today. Over time, many doctors and scientists have been able to perfect the techniques currently used.

Especially the FUE method that has become the most reliable technique in use. It has also now been perfected with the technique known as DHI hair transplant. Dr. Balwi, our head surgeon, is amongst the pioneers of this technique. He and his team have done more than 20,000 capillary surgery interventions with the FUE method, thus gaining a great experience in the field.

If you also have baldness and want to treat it effectively. You can confidently opt for a hair transplant in Turkey with Elithairtransplant and Dr. Balwi. With us at your side you will benefit from more than 10 years of expertise in the field T A hair transplant in Turkey will guarantee you the most efficient treatment against baldness. You will also save a lot of money thanks to our all-inclusive rates.


Ask now for a free, non-binding hair analysis. Our experts are at your disposal 24/7!

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