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The History of Hair Transplant Surgery

While modern hair transplant surgery is a safe, effective and relatively painless way to achieve a permanent, natural-looking hairline, it took years of research and scientific breakthroughs to become the established hair loss solution it is today.

The 1930s

Hair transplant surgery as we know it originated in Japan in the 1930s as dermatologists worked to find a way to restore hair for burn victims and people with scalp injuries. One doctor in particular, Dr. Shoji Okuda, was able to take grafts of hair-bearing skin from hair-bearing areas and implant them in hairless areas to cover up hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows and upper lip. While his work was designed to treat patients with traumatic alopecia, his techniques were eventually adapted to treat androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern balding) as well. Unfortunately, due to World War II, his research remained unavailable to western physicians until much later.

The 1950s

In the 1950s, a dermatologist in New York named Dr. Norman Orentreich began to experiment with the idea of relocating or transplanting the hair on the back and sides of the head to the balding areas. He was able to show that, when relocated, resistant hairs from the back and sides of the head would maintain their bald-resistant genetic characteristics. This is known as “Donor Dominance,” and became the foundation of hair transplantation.

The 1960s and 1970s

During the 1960s and ’70s, the standard of hair transplant procedures involved the use of larger grafts (commonly known as hair plugs) that were removed by round punches and often contained many hairs. Unfortunately, these plugs had an unnatural appearance, causing many people to form a negative opinion of hair restoration surgery in general.

The 1980s and 1990s

The 1980s and 1990s brought significant improvements in hair restoration technology. The technique of using “micrografts” to implement smaller numbers of grafts allowed surgeons to soften the frontal hairline, making them look more natural. This micrograft technique eventually evolved into today’s modern hair transplantation. Considered the gold standard, Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) techniques of hair transplantation are so refined that hair transplant results could closely mimic how hair grows naturally.

The 2000s

With advancements in technology, there also came a renewed focus on the importance of artistry in creating a natural-looking hairline. As the founder of the Bosley Medical Institute, Dr. Larry Lee Bosley helped pioneer techniques and technology that allowed physicians to recreate patients’ original hairlines. In addition to performing more than 32,500 restoration procedures himself, he also helped train and mentor some of the most talented hair restoration surgeons currently in practice through the Bosley Medical Group.


Bosley uses the latest technology for both surgical and nonsurgical solutions. The Bosley FUE device is handheld, rather than using a robot, because Bosley physicians pride themselves on using their skill and artistry to create a completely natural looking hairline. Bosley’s nonsurgical solutions include Revitalizer a Low-Level Laser Therapy, BosleyRx® and Bosley Hair Care Products. Also, Bosley offers Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP), which applies pigment or “hair dots” to create the impression of density and/or a new hairline.

What to do next?

To learn more about your hair restoration options and the average hair transplant timeline, The Complete Book on Hair Restoration, to see how great your hair can look. If you’re ready to do something about that bald spot or thinning hair now, schedule a FREE in-person or video consultation with a trained Bosley hair restoration specialist. Together with a Bosley Physician, we can help you find out what’s causing your balding and what treatment solution is right for you.

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