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Can Body Hair Be Transplanted To Scalp

Feb 2, 2019

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Can Body Hair Be Transplanted To Scalp?


Yes, indeed.

Body hair transplant (BHT) is a refined technique for treating hair loss on the scalp, in which the donor follicles come from the body instead of the scalp itself. It is conducted when there is a lack of good scalp donor hair and the body hair is used as a substitute.

Ideally, in a normal hair transplant, the donor follicles are taken from the back or the sides of the head. But this may not be an option in some cases, and body hair transplant is resorted to as a last attempt.

Indications for BHT

  • 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.

The trial helps predict the probability of a successful outcome, since the results of BHT can be unpredictable, considering the differences between scalp hair and body hair.IFrame

Difference between scalp hair and body hair

Out of 5 million follicles on the body, only one hundred thousand are present on the scalp, indicating that there likely would be a significant difference in the character of hair follicles on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.

  • 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 (hair in anagen phase: hair in telogen phase) 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, and are 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, and graying to scalp hair; which is why beard transplants have a success rate of 80-85%.

As each hair loss case is unique, the decision for using body hair transplants for scalp must be discussed thoroughly, involving the criteria for your eligibility and the realistic outcomes possible.

Ideal candidate for BHT

A special technique is used to determine whether you are eligible to undergo BHT or not, called as 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 BHT. TDI score of 5-8 makes them suitable under certain circumstances, while a score of 8 or more makes them perfectly eligible for undergoing BHT.

FUE hair transplant method used for BHT

BHT is accomplished using Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique.

  • Follicular units (FUs) taken from the body are anatomically different to those taken from the head. While FUs from the head consist of 1,2, or 3 hair, FUs from the body have only one hair. That is why, to obtain natural looking hair density over the scalp, nearly twice as many implants are needed in BHT compared to a normal hair transplant.
  • 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 for BHT

The key success factors for any BHT are:

  • 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 and hydration of the extracted grafts
  • Optimal implantation, considering the growth direction and the arrangement of the grafts
  • And obtaining a natural hairline.

Advantages of BHT

  • 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.

However, it is to be emphasized that body hair transplantation for scalp is the last resort and that the outcomes can often be uncertain and unpredictable.

To ensure the maximal results possible, it should be carried out only by a hair surgeon who is knowledgeable and experienced in the technique of body hair transplant.

Professionals from HairMD Clinic not only offer body hair transplant treatments but also help design the most effective plan for you to meet your hair restoration needs.

For further queries, consultation, or treatment, contact us at HairMD Clinic.

What makes a suitable candidate for hair transplant



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-Dr. Dhananjay Chavan

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