Many have joked about getting their chest hair transplanted to their scalp, but did you know it’s an established procedure? During a hair transplant, donor hair is extracted from the back of the head. This is where healthy hair that has been largely unaffected by the genetic hair loss process lives and thrive. The hair can be extracted by FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) or FUT strip surgery in varying numbers. The big question is, what if you don’t have enough donor hair on the back of the head to transfer?
In the past, if there wasn’t enough donor hair, there was nothing else to be done and you would have to live with the results of your previous hair transplant. Now we have an alternative for hair restoration: body hair.
Body hair has been used since the advent of FUE technique. FUE is the hair transplant procedure that involves removing a single follicular unit at a time using a handheld punch and extraction forceps. This makes it the ideal procedure for utilising donor hair from the body. FUT strip surgery on the other hand will not work well for body hair extraction, as it requires strong density of follicles in the strip of skin that is cut out.
The first and most desirable area is the beard. Beard hair is robust and thick. The areas of the face that yield the best hair are those along and below the jaw. Hair from the neck further down and from the face higher up tend not to be as thick and may not grow as long.
Beard hair is best transplanted into the vertex (crown of the head) and frontal forelock (front a little way back from the hairline) to add thickness, perhaps in an area that has previously been transplanted. We would not transplant facial hair into the frontal hairline as the hair will look unnatural because of its coarseness.
Beard hair is also great for forward planning and adding density to areas of deficiency. Although it is possible, we do not generally add beard hair to the scalp by itself. To achieve the ideal look, we use a combination of head and beard hair.
Another body hair donor area we can employ is chest hair. Chest hair is a lot finer than facial or scalp hair, making it suitable for the frontal hairline to create a feathered look or the crown area simply for further coverage.
There are other areas that can be used as donor hair for a hair transplant, however, keep in mind that most of these are quite thin and only suitable for implanting into the frontal hairline and temporal peaks. These include arm, underarm, pubic, and thigh hair.
A body-to-scalp hair transplant is not for everyone. And unlikely to be for a first-time hair transplant recipient. (Although it may be considered if the patient’s donor hair on the back of the head is sparse, to begin with). Rather, many patients who enquire with us about body hair transplantation have already had a transplant which has left them with major scarring and depletion to the donor area. This may have been carried out by a surgeon who is not prioritising the look of both the donor and the recipient area of the head. These patients may seek an alternative area from which to harvest hair.
We often use beard hair to repair strip scars, particularly when we want to preserve donor scalp hair or if there is little of it. In an ideal situation, we would like to use head hair to repair a scar, as it blends in the most seamlessly. However, sometimes there is no other choice, and this is where beard hair may be suitable.
Dr Peter Paraskevas has been practicing as a hair transplant surgeon for over 10 years now and his main area of specialty is FUE, strip scar repairs, facial hair transplants, and eyebrow transplants. Body-to-scalp procedures are one of our clinic’s signature procedures and although it is a time-consuming technique, we are extremely passionate about it.