Body Hair Transplant
Body hair transplant comes into the picture for patients with extensive baldness. It covers the entire bald area by combining scalp donor hair with hair obtained from other parts of the body.
Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that removes hair follicles from one part of the body, called the 'donor site', and implant it into the bald or balding part of the body known as the 'recipient site'.
This is performed by different techniques such as follicular unit transplantation (FUT), follicular unit extraction (FUE), Direct hair implant (DHI), and Stem cell hair transplant. Furthermore, one of the limiting factors in achieving successful outcome is the limited donor hair on occipital scalp, particularly in extensive baldness.
What if you even lose your hair from the occipital scalp?
It’s the question you secretly dread. Here, body hair transplant comes into the picture which has been proposed as an alternative source of hair in such cases. Transplantation of body hair in to the scalp has been suggested as an option to treat extensive cases of baldness with poor donor area.
Body hair transplant can be performed from beard, chest, legs, arms, pubic hair and other body sites. However, the best graft for transplantation on scalp is from the beard followed by chest hair.
Which type of body hair should be preferred for transplantation on scalp?
As mentioned above, the beard and chest hair can be used when you have limited donor hair on occipital scalp, particularly in extensive baldness.
You must be wondering why do doctors prefer beard over other type of body hair. So we will make it simple for you to understand
Beard hair is considered the best source of grafts. It is preferred in the first place because of its superlative success rate over other type of body hair. The reason for choosing beard over other type of body hair is
- Similarity in its growth cycle to scalp hair like long anagen phase.
- It has thicker caliber of hair and gives large number of available grafts.
- Negligible scar formation while extraction from beard.
- Beard hairs grows more consistently as well as longer and faster when transplanted to the scalp than chest hair.
No doubt even the chest hair is considered a good source of grafts in case of extensive baldness. Let us know why?
- Chest hair is the second best source of grafts after the beard.
- It is less preferred over beard because of its growth phase (anagen) which is relatively short compared to the beard. .
- They may remain in shedding phase for a much longer time.
- All things considered, it may leave significant post inflammatory hyper or hypo-pigmentation.
- Meanwhile, Chest hair is placed acutely thus has high transaction rates.
Nevertheless, chest hairs can still be a very important source to restore lost scalp hair when beard hair is unavailable, or non-existent. In addition, Chest should be shaved 7 days before the surgery to pick only fast growing and thick hair follicles.
But you know what else?
Well, other sources of body hair like legs, arms and pubic hair may also be used in case of non-availability or non existence of beard and chest hair. At times, hair from underarms, back and forearms can also be used by doctors. But they are generally not preferred due to their short anagen phase. Consequently the more body hair density you have the more it makes you eligible for a hair transplant procedure using body hair.
Now, I’ll walk you through the whole process of body hair transplant !
What is the procedure for body hair transplant?
Generally, in hair transplant procedures hair grafts are extracted from the patient’s donor area that is the back of his/her head, which usually have high hair density. However, in body hair transplant doctors extract graft from other parts of your body.
The best areas for these donor hairs are the beard followed by the chest and back. Hair grafts are going to be extracted directly from the donor area under local anesthesia using a small tool that is between 0.75ml and 1ml or a little thicker.
In one session, from 500 to as many as 4000 body hair grafts can be extracted. However if more grafts are needed it might extend to another day. These grafts, mostly contains one or two hairs follicles that have to be carefully extracted using specialized FUE techniques, one at a time.
The doctor creates a circular incision inside the skin surrounding the graft and then he pulls it out directly from its position and places it in the preserving solution.
Once extracted, these grafts sometimes need to be further refined under the microscope to remove excess fat and or skin to assure the most aesthetic results. Finally, it is planted in the recipient area of the patient.
Only FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) or DHT (Direct Hair Transplant) can be used to perform body hair transplant.
Who are the good candidates for body hair transplant?
- Want complete coverage in one sitting
- Grade 7 patient who want complete coverage
- Have poor donor area
- Have depleted scalp donor area due to previous hair transplant (unsuccessful hair transplant)
- Wants to acquire higher density
- Have retrograde thinning on the scalp
Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of this procedure
- A single sitting/session can give you desired results. Most probably you will not need multiple sitting/session.
- During this transplantation process you will experience minimal or no pain. Due to this you only require local anesthesia.
- Some people may not prefer to clean shave their scalp, so for them this is the best procedure and even the experts recommend it.
- A person who wants to acquire higher density of hair can undergo this process.
- The disadvantage of this kind of procedures is that the quality of body hair does not match with the hair in the scalp; this is due to the fact that the structure of hair in the scalp is more consistent than the hair around the body.
- Body hair have different structure as in they are thinner and have higher curls.
- You also have to remember that the success rates of hair transplants using body hair are less than those procedures that use donor graft from the scalp.
- The survival rate of body hair is lesser than scalp hair that is it has lower survival quality.
- Body hair have different growing time and growth cycle
- The extraction process for body-hair is much more time consuming, labor intensive and more difficult than a regular scalp hair transplant.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
The experience of surgeons matters as they have to easily handle the distinct types of cases smartly. The hairs on the body are quite different from the scalp; hence they have to work smoothly without creating any sort of issue.
As we know, the direction and texture of the body hair are completely different. Hence, it should be placed in such a way that they blend with the scalp hair. So that no one can identify the difference in textures after the surgery.
The way of extraction of donor hairs and storing must be accurate. The direction of slits must be provided very carefully which is analyzed by professionals.
Question and Answers (86)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Deepesh Goyal - Fellow ship in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Sugery, Master in Plastic Sugery, Fellowship In Cosmetic And Plastic Surgery, Fellowship in Dermatological Laser Surgery, MBBS, MS - General Surgery