Body Hair Transplant (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) almost limitless depending on the amount of body hair that a patient has. BHT is relatively new in the hair transplant field and is only practiced by a few clinics worldwide. 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 the strip technique works consistently. For better or for worse the hair tends to grow in the vast majority of scalp hair to bald scalp hair transplant cases. Body hair transplants are not consistent. Sometimes the results are very good and sometimes the results are not as good. Two factors affect the results from body hair transplants. One is the yield and the other is the cosmetic benefit the grafts produce. The challenge lies in the extraction of these grafts and whether or not the follicles will be damaged during the procedure. Over the years, we have performed many studies to document various factors that might affect either the yield or the cosmetic benefit of a procedure. One of the studies we have performed is a look a the source for body hair transplants. We have performed several studies where we took hair from multiple body hair regions and transplanted them to the same region of a bald scalp. The following is an explanation of a recent study. We evaluated the cosmetic benefit of the grafts along with the yield for each source.
The recent study we conducted on body hair transplants involved a bald crown and small number of grafts from the back, chest and beard. We evaluated 137 grafts transplanted from the patient's back and 65 grew at one year with a yield of 47%. We also transplanted 28 from the chest and 24 grew at one year for a yield of 86%. Finally, we transplanted 24 from the beard and 15 were growing at a one year for a yield of 63%. Cosmetically the most significant appearance was with beard hair. The patient was trimming all the body hair grafts to equal the length of hair in other regions so the length of the growth could not be compared. This study confirms previous studies where we noted that different regions of body hair seem to grow at a higher yield than other regions when transplanted to the same individual in the same region of the balding crown. Unfortunately, we still do not have any data that suggests that one source overwhelmingly is better than another source because the yields from various sources tends to vary from one patient to another. The before and after photos are depicted in the following photographs.
Body hair sometimes produces a very significant result, but often times the result is subtle. All individuals should keep this in mind when considering body hair transplants. We continue to recommend head hair first over body hair whenever possible. Of course the goal in this study was not to produce a significant cosmetic benefit. We wanted to study different sources and the yields. When you perform much larger studies, we often find it nearly impossible to determine the yield. Therefore, we wanted to keep the number low. There are other advantages to lower quantities of body hair. One is to assess the overall benefit from the procedure. If a patient has a smaller procedure performed, he has the option to proceed with additional procedures or rule out body hair transplants as an option. I think it is often better to have a smaller procedure performed prior to a larger procedure so that you can determine whether a body hair transplant is in your best interest at a limited cost. If, on the other hand, you begin with a larger procedure, you are setting the bar very high. If you later find that you are not happy with this result, you risk a much greater financial investment in the procedure. Also, by setting your personal bar very high, you risk significant emotional let down and depression should you fail to reach the expectations you had hoped for.