A Historical Overview of Hair Transplant – Hair Restoration

Hair transplant procedures have enjoyed a long history, and the first recorded documents mentioning treatments of this kind (for both humans and non-humans) date back to the eighteenth-century. This page will survey the main practitioners in the area since the advent of modern hair transplant techniques.

Dr. Okuda

In 1939, Dr. Okuda, a Japanese dermatological specialist, was the founder of the punch method for extracting and relocating scalp hair. The pioneering technique implemented microscopic punctures to relocate tissues with hair follicles, and this was carried out for balding regions, eyebrows, and moustaches. This method was highly successful in that the redistribution process saw results where follicular units experienced regrowth at the recipient site. The technique was only applied to clients experiencing hair loss from inflammation, and Dr. Okuda did not think it would be possible to use the approach to solve inherited, androgenic hair loss.

Dr. Tamura

Four years after the pioneering work of Dr. Okuda, Dr. Tamura, another leading Japanese dermatological specialist, completed the first micrografting (1-3 grafts) procedure on a human. This was used for the transplantation of female hair. It is notable that this method is a close relative of the classical surgery strip technique, an approach which is still commonly applied in central Europe to this day.
Although the pioneering hair transplant activities were reported on in prominent Japanese medical publications, the Second World War stopped the international dissemination of the innovations.

Dr. Orentreich

In 1959, Dr. Orentreich performed the first surgical hair restoration technique in the West. His chief discovery was that when hair follicles extracted from a donor area are inserted into a recipient site, they are not subject to subsequent loss and they continue to grow as do normal hairs. This represented a confident step forward in terms of the treatment of inherited balding. Orentreich employed a cylinder to extract hairy tissues from a donor site and, using the same device, incisions were created on the recipient site. This facilitated the relocation of the extracted tissues to the balding region. Orentreich’s core aim was to facilitated the transplantation of the greatest possible number of grafts without exposing the follicles to any risk of dying, and he estimated that the ideal size for transplantation was 4 mm in diameter. It is interesting to note that this method, first developed at the end of the 1950s, is still being carried out in some clinics today, and it was represented state-of-the-art science in the area until the 1990s. However, mini-grafting emerged as a widely-used technique for hairline restoration in the 1980s, and this was later substituted with micro-grafting (1-4 grafts).

Dr. Carlos Uebel

This practitioner was one of the first to provide treatments in the area of strip surgeries. Although the approach developed is maximally invasive, Dr. Uebel successfully restored true-to-life hairlines by excising large pieces of hairy tissue from the scalp; dividing these into mini-grafts (4-8 grafts); and further dividing them into micro-grafts (1-4 grafts).

Dr. Bob Limmer

Dr. Limmer moved the hair restoration industry several steps forward with his innovative use of high-resolution microscopic devices in 1988. Despite his original intention in using the devices being to prepare hair follicles accurately without subjecting them to damage, he soon realised that hair grows in natural bundles of follicular units. Limmer’s legacy is recalled each time we use the term he coined, ‘follicular unit’, which describes an individual follicle from which 1-4 hairs grow. In 1991, a medical publication issued an article in which Dr. Limmer pioneeringly provided an account of the state-of-the-art follicular unit transplant (FUT).

Dr. Woods and the Woods Methode (Follicular Unit Extraction)

FUE, devised by Ray Woods and Angel Woods-Campbell, was first conducted at the beginning of the 1990s. However, this claim has not been completely validated given that Inaba published an article in 1996 describing the approach precisely, it is important to recognise the Woods’ as some of the earliest FUE practitioners.

Dr. Jones and Dr. John Cole

In 2002, after hearing about the Woods’ method, Dr. Jones started to conduct treatments using FUE. Since the Woods’ did not permit their approach to be reproduced or learned about in any way, Dr. Jones started to research into his own FUE technique. Within a relatively short period, Dr. Jones had devised a world-class method and, soon enough, he delivered his first FUE hair restoration. Dr. Cole, in a matter of months, received word of the positive outcomes resulting from Dr. Jones’ method, and he enthusiastically became an expert in the method. Since 2002, the two doctors have provided tuition to physicians around the world to publicise and increase the popularity of the least invasive hair restoration technique yet developed in the history of the industry.