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|Body Hair Transplants
In general, the preferred Donor Area for hair transplantation is the scalp. However in some cases, other areas of the body, such as the beard, may be used as a source of transplantable hair follicles to accomplish certain hair restoration goals. Beard hair and other sources of body hair are harvested most commonly using the minimally invasive no-scalpel NeoGraft FUE technique.
Why Beard Hair Transplantion (BHT)? The most common applications of Body Hair or Beard Hair Transplant harvesting is donor scar camouflage, and replenishing a depleted donor area.
Linear scar camouflage - Instead of harvesting hair follicles from the scalp, beard hair follicles can be obtained and transplanted into a scar for camouflage or repair purposes.
Crown/vertex density - If Scalp Donor Hair is in short supply, beard hair can be harvested and transplanted into the crown or vertex area.
Donor Area Replenishment - As hair styles change, patients who have had a significant amount of hair transplants may eventually desire more density in their donor area. Beard or Body Hair Transplantation can 'recharge' a donor area by adding follicles into a Donor Area weakened by previous hair transplant procedures.
Beard Hair Transplant Risks:
Even from casual observation it is easy to see that Beard Hair typically does not posses the same qualities as scalp hair. Does this pose a risk for Body Hair or Beard Hair Transplantation? Differences in texture, curl, color, caliber, maximum length and even hair growth rates of Body Hair or Beard Hair may be significantly different than scalp hair. The use of Body or Beard Hair as a source for donor follicles in hair transplantation requires therefore a careful clinical decision and discussion with the patient. As an extreme example, it would be prudent to avoid the use of coarse, curly beard hair for transplantation into the hairline in a patient with thin, straight scalp hair. However, a small number of coarse curly beard hairs strategically implanted between existing hair follicles in a thinning crown can deliver significant fullness and improvement in scalp coverage without using precious Scalp Donor Hair.
Body Hair Transplants In the Media:
The recent raunchy Saturday Night Live skit which spoofed an infomercial from a large chain of hair transplant clinics may be an unwitting, yet perhaps the starkest example of art imitating life that the hair transplant industry has seen. In the SNL skit, hair loss patients received pubic hair transplants which resulted in, let's just say, a 'significantly' different hair texture, providing the comedic element to the segment. It's unclear whether or not the writers knew that body hair transplants and specifically pubic hair transplants were possible, but they did illustrate the primary potential pitfall of choosing a Donor Area which is an inexact match for the scalp!
How to Harvest Body Hair for Transplantation:
Because the low density of beard hair and other body hair found on the chest, back or abdomen (belly) is low, a linear or strip harvest--while possible--is not typically recommended. Most commonly, the delicate microsurgical harvesting of Body Hair of the beard, chest or other zone is performed with the less invasive NeoGraft FUE approach which leaves no linear scar to hide.
The tiny contra-angle minimal-depth NeoGraft handpiece fitted with a 0.7mm tip is well suited for body hair harvesting. After local anesthesia is applied, the follicles are harvested. Unlike scalp hair follicles which are typically found in groupings averaging 2.4 follicles/follicular unit or graft, body hair groupings contain significantly fewer follicles per follicular unit. For example, beard follicles are typically found in groups of one or two follicles only, whereas scalp hair follicles are found in mostly groups of two and three.
This means that for every graft and for every similarly-sized procedure much less hair is harvested and implanted when performing body hair transplantation.
Body Hair "Test Procedures"
Often patients will prefer to undergo a small body hair transplant test procedure in an inconspicuous place to determine if a Body Hair Transplant is right for them. The test procedure reveals not only how well the transplanted hair matches the scalp hair in the area of concern, but also how the non-scalp donor are heals from the procedure. A Body Hair Transplant 'test procedure' usually involves only the harvesting and implantation of a few dozen grafts and is relatively inexpensive and quick compared to a 'full' body hair transplant procedure.