drawing relating to different historical periods

The history of hair transplants

Alopecia is a widespread phenomenon that affects many people. While some can live very well with hair loss, others seek solutions such as a hair surgery. But the desire to have dense hair is not just a will of the modern era. People have been thinking about baldness treatments for centuries.

Hair implants are currently considered one of the most effective methods to recover lost hair. But it took actually many years of research to perfect the FUE and DHI techniques. Here is a brief overview of the history of the hair transplant surgery.


  1. Beginnings in Asia
  2. The Origins of the Strip Technique
  3. The New York Advancements of the FUT Method
  4. Towards More Natural Hair Transplants in the 1980s
  5. 1990s: the Beginnings of the FUE Transplant
  6. Current State and Future of Hair Transplant
  7. Conclusion

Beginnings in Asia

the history of hair restoration starts in japan
The history of hair transplantation dates back to 1930 in Japan. Dr. Sasagawa is considered to be the first to make attempts to transplant hair follicles into human skin.

Nine years later another Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, describes a new method of hair transplantation. In this technique he proceeded to remove the scalp from the healed areas of the eyebrows or upper lips of burn victims. These newly grafted hairs began to grow naturally again.

Unfortunately the war overshadowed his research for what would be later known as the punch technique. For transplantation, he used hair follicles two to four millimeters in diameter. However, compared to the current hair transplant procedures, this method was still very primitive and left scars on the treated areas.

The Origins of the Strip Technique

The next chapter in the history of hair transplantation dates back to 1943 also in Japan with the dermatologist Dr. Tamura. This time the method consisted of using smaller grafts, containing one to three hairs each. He made them by cutting a spindle-shaped band into the scalp.

The technique was very similar to one being used until now – the strip method. Dr. Tamura published the results in various Japanese medical journals. But also because of the Second World War, these results were ignored for a long time in the Western world.

The New York Advancements of the FUT Method

Another milestone in the history of modern hair transplantation was achieved in the US in 1959. Dr. Norman Orentreich found that there were areas on the head that were spared by hereditary alopecia. As a rule, the remaining hair forms a crown located at the back of the head. These have the advantage of maintaining their longevity, unlike where the hair is already failing.

From this capillary ring Orentreich extracted the roots of the hair, which he then transplanted to the bald areas. The American doctor used a metal cylinder to take four-millimetre grafts from the donor area. He then transplanted these into the bald areas where they grew back rapidly.

Effect on the industry

These discoveries marked the beginning of the era of aesthetic hair transplant surgery. The same techniques are still practiced by doctors around the world and used by more and more patients.

The methods developed by Orentreich and Okuda became the norm for the next 30 years. There was no significant progress in the history of hair transplantation during this period.

Towards More Natural Hair Transplants in the 1980s

Until the 1980s hair grafted with the punch method was not highly popular. Newly placed hair often seemed very unnatural, usually called the “Barbie doll” effect. As a result, several physicians began using even smaller micrografts (one to four hair follicles).

This breakthrough in the history of hair transplantation made the procedure even more popular. Unfortunately for many patients, grafted hair still did not seem to give the natural results they craved for.

Dr. Carlos Oscar Uebel

The aforementioned Strip method was also re-examined in the 1980s by the Brazilian scientist Dr. Carlos Oscar Uebel. He used a contiguous band from the donor area instead of individual grafts. He did this with a scalpel with which he divided the band, and then reintegrated into the receiving areas.

The discovery of follicular units

The story of hair transplant continues thanks to Dr. Bob Limmer. He made a discovery – probably by chance- when looking at grafts under the microscope. He could see that the hair, by nature, does not grow individually but in small groups.

These follicular units consist of one to three – or in exceptional cases, four – hair follicles. This discovery proved that the use of those as grafts, gives a much more natural appearance to grafted hair than the techniques used so far.

1990s: the Beginnings of the FUE Transplant

the fue technique was discovered in the 1990s
In the 1990s, most hair transplant institutes replaced the “punch” method with that of the “strip”. At the same time, Australian doctors Dr. Angela Campbell and her brother Dr. Ray Woods discovered a new way to extract hair follicles.

They made this breakthrough by observing that cutting large bands of the scalp caused unnecessary pain to the patients.

The Current State and Future of Hair Transplants

The FUE hair surgery technique developed by Campbell and Woods has since been improved by the doctors Coen Gho (Holland), Robert Jones (Canada), and Dr. John Cole (USA) shortly after the turn of the millennium. They improved the process of their Australian colleagues by adapting it for mass use.

But the history of hair restoration continues to evolve. For example, scientists are currently working on how to perfect the tools for capillary surgery.

Robotic transplantation

The latest advances have also led to the development of Artas, a robot specialized in hair transplants. Also new advances in postoperative dermatology allows better treatment of the affected skin areas.

Instead of a scalpel, they used of thin needles and thus perfected the extraction of follicular units. This method, more comfortable for patients, is now known as the FUE hair transplant (Follicular Unit Extraction). It became popular in the early 2000s, and has become the technique of choice all around the world.


From the beginnings in Japan, to the many years of development that made hair implants become what they are today, over time, many doctors and scientists have been able to perfect the techniques currently used.

Especially the FUE method that has become the most reliable technique in use. It has also now been perfected with the technique known as DHI hair transplant.

Dr. Balwi, our head surgeon, is amongst the pioneers of this technique. He and his team have done more than 20,000 capillary surgery interventions with the FUE method, thus gaining great experience in the field.

Do you have more questions or are you suffering from hair loss issues? Then feel free to to contact our friendly team that will answer all your queries.

Furthermore they can also offer a free and non binding hair analysis. So don’t hesitate if you want to benefit from Dr. Balwi and Elithairtransplant’s expertise for a successful and affordable hair transplant in Turkey!


What were the earliest documented attempts at hair transplantation?

The earliest documented attempts date back to 1930s Japan, where Dr. Sasagawa and later Dr. Okuda experimented with transplanting hair follicles into human skin, primarily for burn victims.

How did World War II impact the development of hair transplant techniques?

World War II overshadowed and delayed the dissemination of early Japanese research on hair transplantation, leading to a significant gap before these techniques were revisited and developed further.

What is the significance of Dr. Norman Orentreich’s work in the 1950s?

Dr. Orentreich’s work in the 1950s established the foundation for modern hair transplant surgery by identifying donor areas resistant to hair loss and pioneering the use of these areas for grafting.

How did the discovery of follicular units by Dr. Bob Limmer impact hair transplantation?

Dr. Limmer’s discovery that hair naturally grows in follicular units (groups of 1-4 hairs) revolutionised hair transplantation, allowing for more natural-looking results compared to previous techniques.

What technological advancements have improved hair transplant procedures in recent years?

Recent advancements include the development of robotic systems like Artas for precision grafting, improved follicular extraction techniques, and better post-operative care protocols to enhance recovery and results.