The History Of Hair Transplantation

In 2022, hair transplants reach their 200th anniversary. Yes, the first recorded hair transplant was all the way back in 1822 in Wurzburg in Germany.

The procedure was carried out by a medical student called Diffenbach under the supervision of Professor Dom Unger.

After Diffenbach successfully transplanted hair follicles to a different part of the skin in animals and humans, Professor Unger declared that male pattern baldness would become a thing of the past.

However, the hair transplant procedure did not become common practice in the immediate years and decades that followed. So, let’s take a look at the history of hair transplantation.

Hair transplants for alopecia and injury

Towards the end of the 1800s, hair transplantation procedures started to be used more often, but mainly as a form of cosmetic surgery for burns victims and other people whose hair loss was caused by trauma or injury.

At the same time, sufferers of male pattern baldness were targeted by salesmen who would sell ‘lotions and potions’ to either drink or apply to the skin with the aim of encouraging hair regrowth.

This continues to the modern day with protein-rich shampoos and conditioners that promise to thicken your hair, but actually at best only provide a temporary effect by coating the individual hairs you already have on your head.

The birth of modern hair transplants

Modern hair transplantation procedures can be dated back to Japan in the late 1930s when Dr S Okuda started to use skin grafts to relocate follicles.

However, his work did not reach a global audience until long after World War II, so in the West, hair transplant processes were born independently by Dr Norman Orentreich in 1959.

Dr Orentreich discovered that if strong and healthy follicles are transplanted, they will continue to grow – a principle known as ‘donor dominance’ – rather than the follicle ceasing to grow because of its new location.

Hair transplants in the 21st century

Sixty years later, Dr Orentreich’s research has shaped the 21st-century hair transplant methods we use today, while Dr Okuda and other Japanese scientists have also gained the awareness they deserve internationally.

But over that time, microsurgery techniques have advanced to such a degree that individual hair follicles can be extracted and moved without leaving visible scars.

Present-day hair transplantation procedures involve moving many hundreds or even thousands of follicles and embedding them into the destination site in a natural-looking pattern that can grow thicker, healthy-looking hair for many more years to come.

At UK Hair Transplant Clinics, we use the latest hair transplantation techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to carry out all of our hair transplant solutions and procedures. For any queries, fill in our ‘Ask UK Hair’ form on our website or email us at

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