Is Body Hair to Scalp Transplant Possible?
Can body hair be transplanted on head?
Body hair transplant to the head/scalp is the latest technique used in hair transplant surgeries if you have a scarcity of donor area. Thinking of getting a hair transplant done but lack of donor area? Body hair transplant to the head is then one of the best options. It is conducted when there is a lack of good scalp donor hair and the body hair is used as a substitute.
The body hair transplant to scalp procedure harvests hair from different sites of the body, such as chest, underarms, beard, etc. For hair transplant on the head, the best graft can be harvested from the back of the head or the sides of the scalp. However, when there is a scarcity of donor hair in these areas, beard hair for hair transplant can be used followed by chest hair. Beard hair is preferred because they are thicker in diameter and can grow to any length as well. Generally, a body hair transplant to the scalp is considered when the baldness level is grade 6 or 7.
Indications for Body Hair Transplant
- Individuals with an advanced grade of hair loss with limited scalp donor follicles and having a good beard or torso hair.
- History of previous hair restoration surgeries that have resulted in depletion of scalp donor areas and inadequate coverage of recipient areas.
- To combine it with a regular scalp transplant in order to augment the coverage, thus achieving a higher density of hair that is difficult otherwise, given the limitation of grafts that can be extracted from the scalp in one sitting.
- For camouflaging donor scars.
- Extensive scarring alopecia of the scalp (example: as seen in burns), where the scalp donor area is inadequate.
Under these circumstances, a trial of body hair may be performed to evaluate the growth and appearance of the grafts.
Difference between scalp hair and body hair
Out of 5 million follicles on the body, only one hundred thousand are present on the scalp.
- The duration of anagen (growth) phase of hair is longest for scalp hair compared to the rest of the body. So the transplanted body hair may never grow as long as the scalp hair.
- The ratio of growing to rest hair is also the highest in the hair on the scalp.
- There is also a considerable difference in the thickness of the skin of the scalp and that of the body.
While we can use hair from beard, shoulders, chest, abdomen, torso, legs, arms, underarms, or pubic area for transplant. It has been found that the hair from the beard and chest are closest in comparison to scalp hair. Thus the most commonly used non-scalp donor areas. The beard is the preferred donor area over a chest, as the beard hair is closer in length, texture, behavior. Beard transplants have a success rate of 80-85%.
The ideal candidate for Body hair transplant to head
A special technique is used to determine whether you are eligible to undergo a Body hair transplant to scalp or not, called the Torso Donor Index (TDI), which includes the following five criteria:
- Hair density > 40 FUs/sq. cm.
- A similarity between the body and head hair
- The number of FUs (follicular units) with 2-3 hair follicles
- The size of the donor area
- The length of the body hair
With TDI < 4, the patient is ineligible for a Body hair transplant. A TDI score of 5-8 makes them suitable under certain circumstances, while a score of 8 or more makes them perfectly eligible for undergoing a Body hair transplant to the scalp.
The method used for Body hair transplant to head
Body hair transplant to head is accomplished using Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique.
- On an average, about 500 to 4000 grafts can be transplanted in one to two days, divided into 2 blocks of time: graft extraction and placement of grafts in the intended recipient areas.
- The hair from the donor area needs to be shaved 2-7 days before the procedure, depending on the site of the donor area, to allow for the selection of the strongest hair for use in a transplant. Also, hair in the anagen (growing) stage produce more consistent results.
- The procedure is carried out under local anesthesia. Small, straight punches 0.7mm-1mm in size are made over the donor area, resulting in clean extraction of intact grafts.
- The wounds heal within 4-5 days without leaving any practically visible scars over the donor area. Till then, keep the donor area covered and apply the special ointment provided to promote healing.
- The grafts extracted from the donor site, most containing one or two hair, are then transplanted into the recipient sites on the scalp. Occasionally, these grafts may need to be further refined to remove excess fat or skin before being transplanted.
- The hair transplanted into the scalp will fall out by two weeks, then start to regrow similar to scalp hair at about four months after treatment, and then subsequently continue to grow lifelong.
- Body hair may or may not change their structure after being transplanted; though in most cases they become longer and straighter, adapting to the scalp hair structure.
Key success factors
- The correct extraction of the hair follicles
- The growth cycle of the body hair
- The compatibility of head and body hair
Other significant factors include
- The right preparation of the follicular units
- The error-free storage & hydration of the extracted hair grafts
- Optimal implantation, considering the growth direction and the arrangement of the grafts and obtaining a natural hairline.
Limitations of body hair transplantation to scalp
The body hair transplant to scalp procedure has not been researched and studied as extensively as transplantation from a scalp donor area. As we are yet to find out more about body hair transplant, it needs to be considered as the last resort when all other techniques don’t work. Although the survival rate is low as compared to other transplant procedures, it is the only method for some patients.
After being transplanted to the scalp, it has been seen that the body hairs change their structure to adjust to the head hair. Generally, these hairs turn out to be longer and straighter.
Individuals seeking hair transplants from body hair need to understand that this treatment is done as the final efforts to restore hair on the scalp and the progress could be unpredictable. Therefore, before opting for a body hair transplant to the head, it is highly recommended to talk to your dermatologist and hair specialist about it in detail.
- It enhances the possibilities of hair transplant by allowing for non-scalp donor areas.
- It allows correction of scars on the scalp.
- Almost invisible or minimal traces are left behind on the donor areas.
- The body hair can also be used for eyebrow and eyelash transplantation.
- Individuals can now make their unwanted hair useful for hair transplantation.
Professionals from HairMD Clinic not only offer Body hair transplants to the head but also help design the most effective plan for you to meet your hair restoration needs.
For queries and concerns regarding hair loss and treatment, book your consultation with a HairMD expert.
” Correction of physical appearance and making it aesthetically perfect is not a mere status issue, its about making your soul comfortable in your body “
-Dr. Dhananjay Chavan