Hair transplant procedures have evolved a long, long way since they began in the early 1950's. The "corn row" or "doll's" hair look that was associated with hair transplantation has evolved into today's "follicular unit" procedure that, when done right, is undetectable even by a hair stylist.
The Concept of the Hair Transplant is Born
During the past several decades superstition, old wives tales, and guess work has gradually been replaced by science.
The early 1800's is renowned in hair restoration circles as the age of the con men. There were hundreds of hair restoration treatments released and many lasted well into the late 1900's. These "cures" were marketed by "doctors", whose only skills were those of fast-talking and nerves of steel (as well as bravery, considering they were conning hardened cowboys and outlaws!).
The salesmen hawked their products from the safety of their side shows and "Wild West" spectaculars. They used endless tricks to get people to buy their products, such as rubbing grease into people's hair, to make it look thicker.
In 1939, a Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, published a revolutionary method in a Japanese medical journal that would lay the ground work for modern hair transplantation.
This method involved using hair transplant grafts to correct lost hair from various areas, including the scalp, eyebrow, and moustache areas. However, this study didn't make an impact in the Western Hemisphere due to the interruption of World War II.
Hair Restoration Comes of Age
In the late 50's one physician in particular, Dr. Norman Orentriech, began to experiment with the idea of relocating or transplanting the hair on the back and sides of the head to the balding areas.
Dr. Orentriech's experiments showed that when bald resistant hairs from the back and sides of the head were relocated they maintained their bald resistant genetic characteristic regardless of where they were transplanted.
This principle, known as "Donor Dominance", established that hair could be transplanted from the bald resistant donor areas to the balding areas and continue to grow for a life time. This laid the foundation for modern hair transplantation.
The Scientific Era of Hair Restoration
During the 60's and 70's hair transplants grew in popularity. However, the standard of care used larger grafts that were removed by round punches and often contained many hairs.
This now outdated hair transplant technique could achieve good results with a full look if a patient completed all planned sessions. However, a patient was typically limited in the manner they could style their hair.
Patients who stopped short of completing all planned sessions were left with hair transplants that looked obvious and unnatural. Such uncompleted hair transplant results are some times referred to as "Barbie doll hair" or "corn rows".
Many who have had these older techniques now refine or complete their bad hair transplants with today's very refined techniques to achieve a natural look that they can style in any manner.