Body Hair. The Next “Big Thing” in Hair Restoration Scams
Written by Joe Tillman on March 17, 2008
No longer should prospective hair transplant consumers be weary only of bad plug jobs and hair transplants that look like a picket fence in Huckleberry Finn. Now there is a new black cloud that has no silver lining. This would be the promise of body hair transplantation or “BHT”.
First off, what is BHT? BHT is the transplantation of body hair from various parts of the body with the intent of placing it in the scalp. If performed correctly there is a great potential source of donor hair that would be, compared to scalp hair, limitless depending on the amount of body hair that a patient has.
The problem with this, like so many other ideas in the unregulated hair transplant industry, is that good ideas do not necessarily work out to be so great in reality. BHT is relatively new in the hair transplant field and is only practiced by a few clinics worldwide. These clinics however tend to promote the use of body hair as being reliable and effective. The truth however is that BHT is not only NOT reliable there are few success cases if these cases can be called successful to begin with.
BHT is not performed like a traditional hair transplant. The standard method of transplanting hair for the purpose of increased volume and density on the scalp is via the “strip” method. This is where the doctor removes a strip of tissue from the back and/or sides of the scalp. The effectiveness of this procedure allows for consistent growth. This is not to say anything about artistry and naturalness as these qualities in a surgeon vary widely but we know that in most hands this technique works. For better or for worse the hair tends to grow in the vast majority of cases. Body hair is taken with a small punch tool that will vary in diameter from .75mm to 1mm or slightly larger. The challenge lies in the extraction of these grafts and whether or not the follicles will be damaged during the procedure.
These punches that are used in BHT are carried over from another technique called FUE. FUE uses these same punches but to extract hair from various areas of the patient’s scalp. This procedure in and of itself is more challenging than the traditional strip method as it is essentially blind harvesting of hairs. Once the punch disappears below the surface of the scalp it is nothing more than a guessing game as to whether or not the hair or “graft” will be damaged.
The difference for body hair however includes but extends beyond this challenge. While extracting body hair the tissue surrounding and underneath is more pliable and has more give. The more give that the tissue has the more the follicle will bend thus distorting the angle that the surgeon felt should have been taken to begin with to successfully remove the hair without damage. It is similar to taking blade of grass, standing it on one end, then pushing down on the top end. The blade of grass will “bow” which is what happens to the body hair in this situation.
Body hair transplantation is a method now being advertised by some clinics as being reliable and effective for the right patient. Personally, with results shown on the web, I have yet to see any case that I would call successful. There are only one or two cases I have seen where I feel that growth was at best only OK but none that I feel were worth the money spent. What is more, is that some of these cases could have saved tens or yes even hundreds of thousands of dollars by not undertaking the BHT route and having traditional scalp hair transplanted to their scalps. Did I say “hundreds of thousands”? Yes, I did because these clinic tell patients that it takes far more body hair grafts to get acceptable results because of the generally finer caliber hairs that grow on the body as compared to hairs that grow on the scalp. When the least expensive of these clinics charge 5.00 per body hair graft (some as high as 10.00 to 14.00 per body hair graft) and some cases including graft counts as high as 30,000 grafts(!!!!!) then the math, while incredulous, works out.
It is my opinion that body hair as a viable source of hair for transplantation into the scalp should be outlawed as a procedure that is anything beyond experimental at best. Worst case repair cases are probably the only cases that should be considered for this procedure and even then it should be approached with caution. Virgin scalp patients or those that have never had any sort of hair transplant procedure in the past should NEVER consider BHT as a first line offense against hair loss. If anyone is considering a hair transplant and they are told that body hair would be a good option then run, don’t walk, toward the door. If a virgin scalp patient has never had a procedure and is told they are not a good candidate save for body hair then they should walk to their nearest drug store, buy a Bic razor then head to their nearest tanning salon. A shaved head would look multitudes better than someone with curly chest hair covering their entire head that has all the density one would expect from a dandelion.
Always remember to think, learn then apply. Do your research and always look for consistency to verify any claim, especially those that seem a bit odd or too good to be true. If these claims are true then you should have no problem verifying them through your own research.