Limitations of Using Body Hair for Scalp Hair Transplants

The problem with androgenetic alopecia, in particular, is it can result in almost total baldness and if a man does not seek treatment quickly enough he may not have enough hair left on his head for transplant. Some scientists have recently maintained that body hair can sometimes be used for hair transplant surgery, but there are several limiting factors that make this very difficult if not impossible for most men.

Some limitations include the fact that terminal hair on the body grows individually and not as groups of follicles, meaning that the procedure is more difficult and complex.  The man would need to have a high enough density of body hair and more follicles would need to be grafted to get a good effect on the scalp. This is because body hair is not as thick as scalp hair, so the aesthetic appearance would be a potential problem.

The hair cycles and growth patterns of terminal hair on the body is also different from that on the scalp, which can also pose a problem. Researchers have found too that using body hair means a slower process, higher fatigue rate of the hair specialist doing the procedure and a much more likely chance of hair follicles being cut or transected.

Saxena and Savant, in 2017, published a study in the journal Indian Dermatology Online in which the use of body hair for FUE hair transplants was discussed. They suggested that there may be cases where body hair can be harvested and used for a FUE hair transplant if not enough scalp hair is present. However, they do mention the various challenges and limitations of such a procedure. They mentioned that in cases of Norwood grades 6 or 7, where men are very hirsute, that a body hair transplant may work. Further problems these scientists mention include the fact that the shape of body hair may be different and it may grow shorter than scalp hair. These can pose significant problems in trying to match donor hair to pre-existing scalp hair.

You can find out what grade of hair loss you have by consulting with specialists at a hair loss clinic (e.g. Vera Clinic).

What about using stem cells rather than body hair?

Stem cells would be a good option but the science is not advanced enough yet. The idea is that a person’s own stem cells can be used to grow hair artificially in a laboratory setting. This hair can then be transplanted into the scalp to recreate missing hair. 

Some evidence this could work comes from the fact that PRP therapy often works, and this is based on stem cells of the plasma, and the fact that animal studies have given promising results.

The best strategy at the moment is to not hesitate to seek treatment because today your options are limited if you have lost too much scalp hair. Even though some scientists are optimistic about using body hair, for many men this would not work well.

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