Historical Overview: Hair Restoration
The first written record of successful hair transplantation to treat baldness in humans was published in 1822 in Wurzburg, Germany-181 years ago. A medical student named Diffenbach described experimental surgery performed by himself and his surgeon mentor Professor Dom Unger in animals and in humans. They successfully transplanted hair from one area of a patient's scalp to another area. Professor Unger was said to believe that hair transplantation would make baldness a rarity.
Few additional mentions of hair transplantation appeared in surgical literature over following decades, however, and few if any surgeons adapted Professor Unger's technique to treat androgenetic alopecia (inherited pattern baldness). Surgical procedures using hair-bearing skin flaps and grafts were first adapted to the treatment of traumatic alopecia (baldness caused by burns or other physical injury) in the late 19th Century.
Male-pattern baldness was not neglected in the 19th Century. It had the attention of "medicine men" who sold various concoctions and nostrums purported to be cures for baldness when rubbed on the scalp or sipped from the bottle. The "medicine man" famous in Western lore is the top-hatted snake-oil salesman who traveled from town to town in his painted wagon. Newspapers of the 19th Century carried advertising for nostrums claimed to do everything from curing cancer to putting hair back on the bald scalp.
The modern surgical techniques of hair transplantation were first developed in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, but did not come to attention outside of Japan until after World War Two. In 1939, Dr. S. Okuda, a Japanese dermatologist, described the use of full-thickness grafts of hair-bearing skin from hair-bearing areas to hairless areas to correct hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows and upper lip. While most of the 200 patients he reported were treated for traumatic alopecia, his technique was almost identical to that...
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