Hair from all over. “In addition to that, over the years there are a lot of patients that have had hair transplantation that is antiquated,” he adds. “They have a ‘pluggy’ look. They have scars. And they no longer have any donor supply left on the back of the head to deal with that issue, because it’s already been used up.”
About seven years ago, Umar began to search for a solution and explored “advanced body hair transplantation” or the “U-graft method.” Basically, this just means considering all the hair on a man’s body as a possible source for transplantation.
“With this approach I can combine beard hair, chest hair and leg hair, depending on the person’s hair distribution,” Umar notes. “Mixing that with some thicker head hair as well, I can come up with about 20,000 to 30,000 hairs, which means I’m then able to tackle some very severely bald individuals.”
To recreate a natural-looking hairline, Dr. Umar believes that leg hair “works the best.” But sometimes he also takes hair from the nape of the neck, which is also very fine and then uses the thicker head hair for the areas behind the hairline.
Two methods, two patients
In his case report, Dr. Umar wrote on the results of two different transplant efforts: One, using leg hair follicles exclusively to recreate the front of the patient’s original hairline/temple area, and the other, using a mix of head hair and leg hair to soften and bring forward a custom-designed “widow’s peak” hairline for a patient.
At his clinic, Dr. Umar tried the technique on two men — a 35-year-old and a 29-year-old — who were both unsatisfied and even embarrassed by the results of traditional transplants done previously.
Putting the patients under local anesthesia, Dr. Umar used a device that creates microscopic wounds around hair follicles in the back of the leg. The follicles were then removed, and then transplanted to the hairline. To prevent bald spots from forming on the legs, Dr. Umar removed follicles in a diffuse pattern. “Because these are very tiny wounds, they heal and close up with minimal scarring,” he explains.
For each patient, Dr. Umar and his team extracted about 1,000 leg hair follicles. Then they grafted them painstakingly one by one, recreating the mens’ hairlines.
The results? In both cases, the transplant procedure gave rise to:
• “Fully grown and soft-looking hairline” within nine months; according to Dr. Umar, one patient “started combing his hair backward and sporting a ponytail, exposing his hairline comfortably”
• From 75 to 80 percent of the fine transplanted leg hair flourishing in their new home on the head
• Minimal hair loss in the transplant area three to four years later
Expensive and tedious
But men seeking the new procedure should indeed be prepared to give anything. First, they have to be patient and second, they should prepare for a hefty bill.
The entire reconstruction takes two procedures, and this is spaced over two sessions — each involving three to five days that are spread over the course of a year. It also costs US$7 to US$10 per hair follicle graft – adding up to a final bill of thousands of dollars. Dr. Umar says, with so-called “slick bald” patients face the highest expense.
Dr. Malcolm Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and chief of the division of plastic surgery at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., hailed the innovation as “yet another example of how new techniques continue to refine and improve outcomes in cosmetic procedures to give patients more natural results.”
But Dr. Barry DiBernardo, who has a private practice in Montclair, N.J., raised a few issues with the procedure:
• Body hair can also have a different thickness from head hear and can have more curl than the original head hair.
• Harvesting hairs leaves scars. In the back of the head, these can’t be seen, but they are visible in the leg, which doesn’t heal as well as the scalp.
“Finding hair from other parts of the body isn’t new at all,” he notes. “We’ve long considered that option, because clearly when you’re designing a hairline . . . the more we can make it look like what was there in the first place, the better,” DiBernardo explains.
“But the approach does raise the issue of a hair mismatch, which of course will depend on the person. Everybody varies,” he concludes.
Natural-Looking Hair Transplant With Leg Hair? Posted 16 March 2012.