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Hair ‘Plugs’ for Hair Loss

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As late as the 1970s, hair grafts were still a relatively unheard of phenomenon. It wasn’t until the 1980s that scientists discovered the follicular unit which revolutionised hair transplants. The methods used today are essentially the same but the amount of hair being moved from the back of the head, as well as the results of the surgery, are vastly different. Before the last few decades, it was common to remove donor hair, not by follicle or even follicular unit, but in circles about 4mm in diameter. Rather than pinpoint incisions in the scalp, holes large enough for the hair grafts were then punched into the top of the scalp and the entire discs were placed into the holes often in ‘corn rows’.

The results of this type of surgery were often extremely unsatisfactory. Using large portions of scalp was a very unnatural approach to grafting which often resulted in bristly doll-head type hair and sometimes heavy scarring. The hairs could not be graded so they would grow in bunches stuck in the rows across the scalp. Despite the leaps in scientific research made over the last few decades, this image of the unnatural ‘plugs’ form of hair transplantation is still what people typically think of when they imagine hair graft surgery


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