Transplant to the chest and other body areas – How is it performed, and How succesful is it?
Body hair transplantation is a procedure designed to restore hair most commonly to the chest and abdomen area, but can also be applied to the pubis, axilla, and any other area hair is desired, to both thicken the existing hair or to provide hair growth where there is none. The absence of hair could be due to genetics, prior electrolysis or laser hair removal, or even trauma due to surgery, burns or other types of accidents. Some patients seek to have restored only a thin amount of coverage or filling in of a limited area (i.e. central chest or pubic triangle), while others desire a thick chest and central abdomen area- for these cases desiring maximum density, a second procedure typically needs to be planned for.
The donor hairs come from the scalp, which typically grow like normal body hair in their texture and other characteristics, with one exception- they continue to grow as if they were on the scalp, and therefore need to be trimmed typically monthly. Once transplanted, the hairs are permanent.. To provide a completely natural appearance, the hairs are transplanted as one and two hair grafts, the natural way body hair grows. Other steps taken to assure naturalness include the careful placement of the grafts at the exact correct angle and direction, the use of all-microscopically dissected grafts that can be placed in the smallest possible incisions so as to minimize scarring, and even the aesthetic distribution of any existing gray hairs into the restored areas. Note that these hairs transplanted into the body are no longer available for transplanting into the scalp if the patient desires to undergo restoration of any male pattern hair loss that may develop in the future, thus meaning that there will be fewer hairs available for this area.
A procedure typically involves the placement of 200 to as many as 4000 + one and two hair grafts, depending upon the desired density and the size of the areas to be covered. Performed usually under a mild oral sedative, the 3 to 6 hour procedure is essentially painless, as is the recovery period. The only exception is when filling large areas of the chest, the anesthetizing process can be somewhat uncomfortable, therefore some patients choose to have it performed under intravenous sedation under the supervision of an anesthetist in Dr. Epstein’s accredited procedure room. For the first 5 days after the procedure, tiny crusts are around each transplanted hair. By the second day, patients are able to return to normal activities with the wearing of a shirt or other concealing clothing, without any sign of having had a procedure. Sutures that are placed in the donor area are removed at 10 to 12days. The transplanted hairs fall out at around 2 weeks, then start to regrow at 3 months, where they will continue to grow for a lifetime.
There are few risks with the procedure, and most are those associated with standard hair transplants. The donor site incision typically heals as a 2 mm wide incision, easily concealable with hair that is cut with anything longer than a razor with a #2 or #3 guard.
I had ~4000 grafts to the chest mid-August '08 with no significant discomfort other than some itching about 1 week later as the grafts healed. The procedure itself was no big deal and virtually painless. Many of the hairs fell out after a few weeks but several stayed and the only noticeable change was a few small bumps here and there where the implanted grafts were placed. Some of the new hairs started growing in around 2 1/2 months and many more by 3. It's going on 4 months now and there's noticeable change in the overall appearance. Looks like most if not all of the grafts are going to take. My thanks to Dr. E and crew for an easy and almost pleasurable procedure. Updates to follow!
Posted by Jeffrey S. Epstein, MD, FACS