Body Hair to Head Hair Transplants

One of the most important developments in the hair loss world in the past decade has been the proliferation of surgeons offering body hair to head hair transplants (also known via the acronym BHT). At this point, there are probably at least 50 experienced surgeons around the world who offer this body hair transplant procedure. And 100s of others are experimenting with this on a small scale.

Until the year 2000, body hair to head hair transplants were almost unheard off. However, between 1998 and 2000, an Australian doctor by the name of Dr. Ray Woods started experimenting with moving body hair from various locations to the scalps of some of his patients.

For the most part, Dr. Woods took a conservative approach, moving relatively few grafts in each individual session in comparison to the mega-sessions of over 3,000 body hair grafts per session that one sometimes sees nowadays. Typically, Dr. Woods used body hair as an adjunct/enhancer to regular scalp hair to scalp hair transplants. Dr. Woods’ first BHT patient’s video is here:

Dr. Woods’ first body hair to head hair transplant patient video

Because body hairs have different texture, length, and anagen, catagen, and telogen phases in comparison to scalp hair, one has to be careful when transplanting the hair to the scalp. Some surgeons claim that once on the scalp, the body hair often takes on the characteristics of scalp hair. However, the opinion on this is mixed.

As of 2013, it seems like there is a consensus that of all types of body hair, beard and chest hair usually offer the best results when moved to the scalp. Nevertheless, some patients still choose to move arm hair, leg hair, back hair, and even armpit hair. Although beard hair is the strongest, many people are afraid to have a surgeon touch their face due to justified fear of permanent scarring.

In recent years, Dr. Arvind Poswal from India has become the world’s most experienced surgeon when it comes to moving body hair to the scalp. Living in a country with over one billion people, many of whom have ample supplies of body hair, clearly helps his practice grow rapidly. Moreover, Dr. Poswal has displayed great knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm in his internet postings on Hairsite. Here is a great link to his more recent patient totals and their updates:

Dr. Poswal Patient Totals and Updates

In the US, Dr. John Cole and Dr. Sanusi Umar are especially experienced in BHT procedures.

Do Body Hair Transplants Work?

In spite of so many surgeons offering BHT procedures, I am not so sure about the long-term satisfaction with these procedures. Although scarring in the body area from which the hair is taken is generally not bad these days, I do not think that every surgeon has a good idea of what types of body hair will give the best long-term results.

Once you have a mega-session BHT, the anagen, catagen and telogen phases of your scalp hair will have a wide range. Some of the videos and pictures of what I have seen online are amazing, but overall, I would still hold off on getting a BHT unless you are absolutely lacking donor scalp hair and have reached an age and strong enough emotional state where you can risk possible permanent weird length and texture hair on your head.

Also, beard hair tends to grey sooner than scalp hair from what I have noticed. Consequently, after a beard hair transplant to just one part of your scalp at the age of 35, you may end up with a strange situation at age 45 when that one part of your scalp turns grey while the rest remains dark!

ISHRS 21st Annual Meeting in San Francisco

The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is having its 21st annual meeting in San Francisco from October 23-27, 2013.  Unlike some hair transplant and hair loss related associations that are operated by hair loss forum owners, the ISHRS has no connection with any private forum.  In my mind, this makes it the best association out there.  Their annual conferences have become superb in recent years, and I would probably go to this one if I was allowed entry.

The summary program of this 21st meeting is excellently presented here:

ISHRS 21st annual meeting

In order of what interests me the most from the 100 plus scheduled presentations and workshops:

  1. I am most interested in the 30-minute presentation on hair follicle cloning and regeneration by Dr. Colin Jahoda.  Of particular noteworthiness to me, Dr. Nigam is a huge fan of Dr. Jahoda.  It seems like out of all the hair loss researchers in the world, Dr. Nigam respects Dr. Jahoda the most.
  2. A 30-minute presentation on Extra-follicular Environmental Modulation of Hair Regeneration by Dr. Cheng-Ming Chuong (with moderation by the famous Ken Washenik).
  3. Dr. Jerry Cooley’s 12-minute presentation titled “Bioenhancements of Hair Transplantation”.
  4. Dr. Carlos Wesley’s 20-minute presentation on scarless follicle harvesting, which is presented as part of a section called “Beyond FUT and FUE”.
  5. “Is Low Level Laser Therapy Effective in Treating Androgenetic Alopecia?  A Review
    of 5 Years Experience in Treating Hundreds of Patients with Male and Female Pattern
    Hair Loss” — 10-minute presentation by Dr. Shelly Friedman
  6. A 10-minute presentation by Dr. Nilofer Farjo summarizing highlights from the 7th World Congress for Hair Research.
  7. Dr. Wayne Hellstrom’s presentation title  (“Post Finasteride Syndrome Update: Urologist’s Perspective”) is a bit scary to me, since I still take 5mg Proscar quarter tabs once every 2 days.   Hopefully, any side effects he has seen are largely in those who take higher doses.
  8. Dr. Christian Bisanga has an interesting 7-minute presentation on miniaturization in the donor area.  For years, I have been skeptical about hair transplant surgeons’ claims that a hair transplant is permanent and any hair moved from the donor area at the back to the front of the scalp will remain permanent.  I think this is a lie.  Most severely balding people I see also have some thinning in the donor area, and many older people have absolutely no hair in the donor area!  My grandfather was one such case, and I have been heading in that direction for a few years now.  My donor hair and side of scalp/above-ear hair are clearly thinning.  Donor hair is often NOT permanent, but admitting that can hurt a surgeon’s customer base significantly.

The majority of the presentations and workshops are quite interesting, but largely focus on hair transplantation techniques.  FUE is becoming especially important based on the number of presentations related to it, and Dr. Robert True, in his introduction, states that “FUE has emerged, and in the minds of many, will soon replace FUT as the hair transplant procedure of choice.”  Hard to believe that 10 or so years ago, almost no-one was doing FUE.

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