Hair transplant procedures have come a long way since the days of hair plugs, which often left patients with an appearance that looked like a doll’s head. The evolution of hair restoration treatments, including topical treatments, medications, and transplanting hair follicles in microscopic groupings, has reached a pinnacle with the development of the NeoGraft® automated hair restoration system.
My Long Island practice recently added Dr. David J. Pincus, a plastic surgeon whose specialties include hair restoration treatments such as NeoGraft. I thought it would be a good idea to discuss NeoGraft and how it differs from older methods of hair restoration and why it may be the ideal solution for men and women considering hair transplant surgery on Long Island.
A Little Background
The history of modern hair transplant surgery dates back to the late 1950s, but recent scientific and technical advances have ushered in an era of hair restoration procedures that produce consistently excellent natural-looking results. “Plug-type” transplants have been replaced by grafting living follicular units (groups of 1 to 4 follicles) into balding areas. That’s because hairs growing on the back or sides of the scalp are genetically programmed to resist the male-pattern baldness that causes hair to thin and stop growing at the front and top of the head.
Researchers studied the best way to take advantage of that fact, and, along with the discovery of follicular units, came up with the follicular unit transplantation (FUT) technique. This is usually called the “strip method,” which refers to the surgical excision of a narrow strip of the patient’s scalp. Technicians use specialized microscopes to remove thousands of follicular units from the strip, which are then transplanted to the balding area. When initially developed, this technique was called micro-grafting.
Dr. Pincus offers this method for certain patients at our practice, but many patients are now good candidates for an even more advanced option.
NeoGraft Brings an Innovative Option
Follicular unit extraction (FUE), a newer option, doesn’t involve an incision or the resulting linear scar. Rather, a surgeon removes each follicular unit directly from the scalp rather than taking a whole strip of flesh.
Until the introduction of NeoGraft, extracting follicular units was performed manually using a special punch tool that resulted in only tiny pinprick wounds. Although the manual method produced strong results, it was extremely tedious. NeoGraft not only automated this technique, but it also eliminated handling hair follicles with forceps or other instruments, which can damage them and lower the success rate of the transplants. The “no-touch” hair restoration procedure offered by NeoGraft is more efficient and produces excellent results.
In some cases, we recommend combining NeoGraft restoration surgery with 1 of 2 FDA-approved medications developed to treat hair loss:
- Rogaine® (minoxidil): This topical solution is rubbed directly on the areas of the scalp where a patient wants hair growth. Fewer than 1 in 5 patients experience actually hair growth when using Rogaine, but it is successful in slowing the loss of hair.
- Propecia® (finasteride): This pill is taken orally to treat male-pattern hair loss. It can be combined with hair restoration surgery to enhance the results in some cases.
Of course, there are numerous over-the-counter products that promise hair growth, but none of those are approved by the FDA and should be viewed with extreme skepticism.
The best way to determine the optimal approach for treating hair loss is to consult with a specialist. Even though the vast majority of people, including women, who lose their hair are suffering from genetic androgenic alopecia, it’s wise to determine the cause of hair loss in each case. Hair loss can sometimes indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment. This is why it’s always wise to meet with a specialist.