This question comes from a member of our hair loss social community and discussion forums:
Recently, I heard an individual discussing “hair plugs,” and I was wondering if these are still used in modern hair transplant surgery? Does this term refer to a recent technique? What are hair plugs?
During these outdated procedures, hair transplant surgeons utilized large punch tools to remove pieces of hair-bearing scalp from the universal donor region. Although these grafts were removed in a manner similar to modern Follicular Unit Extraction, the 2-4 mm grafts were excessively large and contained multiple follicular units.
After removal, the mini/multi-unit grafts were placed into large incision sites made in the recipient region. However, because of the graft size and nutrient requirements, physicians feared that placing the implants too close together or in too great of numbers would compromise scalp blood supply and cause graft necrosis. To avoid this issue, the hair restoration physicians would place a small number of grafts at a noticeable distance apart, allow time for a certain level of blood supply regrowth, and then ask the patient to return for another round of graft placement between the existing grafts. In theory, repeating this process would eventually allow for a natural, aesthetically pleasing hair transplant result.
However, the problem was that this process often wasn’t completed properly, and even if the patient returned for multiple procedures, the large, unnatural grafts could not create a refined, undetectable appearance. In fact, as hair transplantation became more popular, many began to notice that the large, widely-place grafts resembled the “pluggy” hairline seen in doll hair, and the term “hair plug” was born.
Since the late 1980s, hair restoration physicians began developing new, more refined hair transplantation techniques, and now remove (and implant) large amounts of naturally-occurring follicular unit grafts from the universal donor region via Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). This modern process now renders the unfortunate hair plug procedure technique obsolete.
Fortunately, the “hair plug” has no place in modern hair transplantation, and more refined, advanced techniques now ensure that hair loss sufferers never need to fear pluggy, doll-like hairlines again!
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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