A scourge has afflicted mankind for eons. It is a harsh genetic disease, mercilessly attacking generation after generation. It is baldness. There was a time when the only cure for this affliction hawked on late night TV was Ron Popeil's Hair In a Can. Look how far we've come. Nowadays, the undisputed heavyweight champion of baldness cure commercials is Bosley's hair "restoration" (read: transplantation) surgery system. Sure, Bosley has celebrity endorsements from megawatt superstars like American Idol reject Matt Rogers, but does it really work? And if so, how?
The Bosley system for hair replacement is a common surgical procedure known as Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). FUT usually costs between $10,000 and $15,000 and involves five steps. First, the doctor plans out the new hairline. Then the doctor surgically removes a strip of scalp from the back of the head. Using a microscope, technicians then remove the individual hair follicles from the strip. Finally, the team pokes holes in the bald scalp and inserts the hair follicles into the holes. The common side effects are itching and inflammation in the scalp, as well as possible pain and infection associated with all surgery.
"You're not getting new hair, you're just moving hair around," said David Alpeter, a doctor at the New York Bosley clinic. "The key to this is that the density of hair is so great that you can take from the back of the head without any evidence of loss there whatsoever."
Dermatologist developed FUT to overcome the problems associated with older forms of hair transplantation. Those older methods involved either implanting single hairs in uniform rows or grafting small chunks of scalp from the back of the head to the top. These procedures could not transplant large quantities of hair per session and left the patient with thin, uniformly distributed hairs. Obviously, few patients found hair transplants worth the money for the procedure (although the Vice-President-elect was an early adopter of the technology).
"People used to be afraid of getting the procedure because they would end up with what looked like doll hair," said Amy McMichael, associate professor of dermatology at the Wake Forrest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina,
Then, in 1994, B.L. Limmer, a dermatologist from San Antonio, Texas, published the seminal paper in the field. His paper illustrated how hair grew in little patches, with a couple of hairs rooted to the same follicle. Limmer demonstrated how that those single follicles could be dissected out of a strip of scalp by using a microscope. Soon Robert Bernstein, a clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University, took the next step and actually implanted those separated follicles back into the top of the scalp, essentially reseeding the head with hair. Thus FUT was born.
"FUT allowed us to transplant thousands [of hairs] in a single session. And by using the body's natural unit of hair, it looks more natural. It was a seismic change," said Bernstein.
The doctors at Bosley use the FUT techniques pioneered by Limmer and Bernstein in the mid-1990s, and, according to Alpeter, are the world's largest hair transplant group, with about 22 surgeons in the U.S. However, while the technique works, Bernstein worries that the advertising sends the wrong message.
"Not everyone is a good candidate for the surgery, and you have to be careful about people who advertise a lot overprescribing the procedure," said Bernstein.
Funny, no one ever complained about overprescription of Hair In A Can, and they advertised that all the time.
That is Dr. ROBERT Bernstein from the Oprah right? http://www.bernsteinmedical.com
Ah, good catch BWilliamB-- we've made the change. Thank you!
I first considered having the procedure in 1995 and even went to Seattle to meet with the Bosley Dr. to discuss what they could do for me. I was confirmed to be a good candidate for successful post surgery results I set a date for the surgery and days later cancelled after spending several nights thinking about all the money it cost ($7500) even back then. I continued to get cards and promotions from Bosley since I had visited them years ago, most recently a discount coupon for 1/2 price on 1 proceedure a 1000 hair transplant (with discount $4500). Today, I am 52 and my hairline has receeded even further, so, again I went to their office in Seattle and was set up with an appointment. This time I kept the appointment. That was on Nov. 28, 2008. I am 3 weeks post-op now and I am totally pleased with the results, in 6 months to a year I will have a much thicker hairline(right now I have what looks like a weeks worth of beard growth and feels like beard stubble...but it's there ready to grow)!
I reasearched this for 13 years and while it may not benefit everyone who is going bald, it certainly has helped me and I am glad I carried through with getting it done.
I think FUT is a fantastic advance in the field of hair restoration. However, there are many great examples of using multi-follicular unit grafts. Let's take an extreme case, which is white hair:
1. cutting white hair into individual FUs can lead to unnecessary transection of these grafts.
2. white hairs are so natural that a multi-unit graft (MUGs) is impossible to detect compared with a FU graft.
3. better survival with MUGs
4. better perceived density from MUGs.
I would say being dogmatic about FUT versus mixed MUG and FU grafts is not being well educated about how combination grafting can create amazing hair density in a single session without compromising naturalness.
There are many different approaches to hair transplant surgery. One of the more common theories is called follicular unit transplantation. A follicular unit is the naturally occurring bundle or grouping of hair follicles. The average follicular unit may have anywhere from two to four hairs (The hair transplant industry average is 2.5 hairs per follicular unit.). There are a number of hair transplant physicians who feel this is the only way to perform a hair transplant surgery [using only micro grafts (one hair) and follicular units exclusively]. They will use these follicular units everywhere, the front (hairline), the middle (vertex) and the back (crown). I could not disagree with this more! I definitely use micro grafts and follicular units; however, I do not use them exclusively. In my opinion this is a disservice to the patient; by limiting the amount and type of grafts you use will limit the results.
I use micro grafts and follicular units where they are needed and incorporate a blend of differently sized grafts in order to best meet the patient’s needs and get them the greatest results possible! A multiple follicualr unit graft could have one to two follicular units or it could have two to three follicular units. I will use these multiple follicular unit grafts in such a fashion that they are blended in with the other grafts and are not discernible. By incorporating these multiple bundles, I am able to achieve a much greater density with unparalleled natural results. Every patient is different. Therefore, every surgical hair transplant will be different. Each individual will have their own hair characteristics. The coarseness, color and density of the hair all have to be taken into account in order to best suit the patients individual needs. Everyone has their own unique facial characteristics which have to be considered as well. The hairline and hair type go hand and hand and must be carefully thought-out when designing a game plan to not only fit their face now but in the future as well!
Dr. Brett Bolton
Hair restoration has certainly made HUGE improvements in the last decade or so. Gone are the days of an unnatural look. 99% of clinics and doctors do a wonderful job of making your hairline look natural and fit your face perfectly. If I ever need anything done, I'll sure be opting for hair loss restoration, for sure!
- B. Adams @ www.hairlossreference.com/
Hair restoration has had major improvements. After looking at the results from a top hair restoration clinic in Los Angeles, I encourage every male/female suffering from hair loss to opt for hair restoration.
There are always price to pay including those baldness cure commercials..
Hair repair has definitely created huge improvements within the final 10 years approximately. The days are gone of the unnatural look. 99% of clinics as well as physicians perform a fantastic job of making your hairline look natural as well as match your face perfectly.
Today, technology has gone even further than this, with the advent of FUE (follicular unit extraction), which extracts the follicles the same way they are implanted—in follicular units, rather than in a strip of flesh. This means a less invasive surgery and minimized scarring, amongst other benefits. It also enables body hair transplant (BHT) for severely bald patients. This is a great site with tons of info on FUE and BHT: