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Your Unwanted Body Hair May Fix Your Baldness!

Follicular Unit Extraction using body hair can be effective and achieve positive patient results.

One of the great challenges we experience at Arocha Hair Restoration is the donor-to-demand ratio. This is the ratio of available transplantable donor hair to the need. As our hair loss surgeon, Dr. Bernard Arocha, has explained in a previous video, “Fundamentals of Donor/Demand Ratio in Hair Transplantation,” the two are inversely related. The patient who has the greater the demand, the less donor follicles are available.

In the words of Dr. Arocha: “He who needs the most has the least and he who needs the least has the most.”

This is often bad news for patients who have very little donor hair on the occipital scalp, which is the area of the back of the head from which hair follicles are harvested, because they are typically not affected by DHT.

Learn more about male pattern baldness here.

If a patient doesn’t have enough donor hair to achieve the desired results, a hair transplant may not be a viable solution. However, there is one option that we recommend exploring in these cases: body-hair-to-scalp transplant. Arocha Hair Restoration has achieved successful patient results in harvesting follicular units from the chest, the beard and even the legs to restore the hairline and crown.

While every case is different, the following considerations are always important:

  • The patient must lack traditional head donor hair. Usually, this is due to extensive baldness and/or previous hair transplants that have depleted the donor area. If a patient has available head donor hair, we will always prefer that because it is simpler, less labor-intensive and less time-consuming.
  • The patient needs adequate donor body hair. In our experience, as well as in other published studies we have reviewed, follicular units can be harvested effectively from the beard and chest as well as the nape of the neck. We can also evaluate the patient’s legs, but if the patient isn’t hairy, a body-hair-to-scalp transplant probably is not a good option.
  • The patient must be motivated. The process of harvesting follicular units from the body can be time-consuming and, in certain cases, uncomfortable. Unlike a follicular unit extraction from the back of the scalp, where we typically have a plentiful supply of donors and we can often utilize the ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System, extracting body hair can require more hunting.
  • The patient must be well-informed. Body hairs are usually found in one- and two-hair units, which can appear less dense. Body hair typically has a smaller diameter and often does not grow as long or at the same rate as hair from the scalp. We don’t want the patient to have any surprises, so we make education a priority.

One of the reasons you may not have read about body-hair-to-scalp transplant before is that the procedure requires the highest level of skill and expertise. Harvesting the follicular units is challenging. Roots are typically very shallow, which can increase the transection rate (the percentage of follicles that are damaged during harvesting, making them unusable). Without a great deal of technical know-how, these factors can quickly multiply the number of follicles needed and require the surgery to be extended to additional days.

Similarly, the unique characteristics of body hair require the hair transplant surgeon to be an artist, using the angle and direction to create a natural, undetectable result.

Learn more about the fundamentals of artistic hair restoration here.  

Taking all that into consideration, there is a growing understanding that body-hair-to-scalp transplants can deliver pleasing results. In perhaps the most detailed study to date, Dr. Sanusi Umar, a clinical instructor of medicine with the Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology at UCLA, reported on a pool of 122 male patients who had body hair transplanted to their scalp. The study included a survey to evaluate donor healing, recipient growth, and overall patient satisfaction. Dr. Umar’s study, “Body Hair Transplant by Follicular Unit Extraction: My Experience with 122 Patients,” was published in the May 30, 2016 edition of Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Here is what he reported:

  • Donor Healing: On a scale of zero (not well) to 10 (very well), patients were asked to report on how well their donor site healed. Overall, the patients reported a very positive experience with a mean score of 8.6.
  • Hair Growth: On a scale of zero (no growth) to 10 (excellent growth), patients were asked to report on the growth of the transplanted hair. Overall, patients gave a mean score of 8.2. Those whose donor source was their beard were most positive about the growth.
  • Overall Satisfaction: On a scale of zero (not satisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied), patients were asked to rate their overall level of satisfaction. Overall satisfaction was high, with a mean score of 8.3. The researchers noted that donor area made no difference in patient satisfaction.

What all this means is that some patients who have very little available donor hair in the traditional area at the back of the scalp have an option. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) using body hair can be effective with the help of a skilled and experienced hair restoration surgeon. Now is the time to find out if all that unwanted body hair can help restore your confidence!