Today I wold like to discuss the term Hair Transplant Or Hair Transfer. This term has become synonymous with the process of moving hair follicles from the donor zone on the scalp to areas of thinning or balding. The term Hair Transplant has always bothered me, as the term transplant is typically used to describe the donation of an organ from one individual to another. The hair taken from one individual will not grow if placed on another person unless both individuals are identical twins. Therefore, in actuality the term hair transplant is a misnomer as we are never taking hair from one person to transplant onto another. What we are actually performing is a hair transfer. We move hair follicles from the permanent donor zone on the back and sides (this is the hair that is immune to the process of genetic balding) to the areas of thinning. I would like to encourage others to begin to use the term hair transfer when discussing the process we perform as I believe it will help more people to understand what is involved in the process we routinely call hair transplant procedures.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, MD


Today I will discuss microscopic dissection in Hair Transplant procedures. Since the advent of Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation there are many different ways that physicians employ their staff to dissect the donor strip into individual follicular units in the process of hair transplant procedures, that is the groupings of hair that naturally occur on the scalp that we seek to move to the areas of thinning. There are many different types of microscopes that people use to dissect grafts and many different levels of magnification. Some physicians only have their staff use magnifying glasses on light boxes. I personally have my staff dissecting our grafts using brand new state of the art microscopes with 10x magnification and LED lighting. These microscopes are much more expensive than the typical microscopes but I believe they perform a superior job in dissecting the grafts. The 10x magnification is necessary to visualize the follicle in it’s entirety and allow for optimal dissection and the LED lighting provides excellent visualization while generating almost no heat (which typical lighting generates and can cause the grafts to dry out thus diminishing their chances of survival). Lessor magnification can result in the loss of intact follicles that cannot be visualized under lower magnification. This is turn can lead a lower survival of grafts in the hair transplant procedure.

In summary, state of the art high powered LED lit microscopes are more expensive, but superior in creating healthy follicular units for use in hair transplant procedures.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, MD


Today I will show a patient of mine who received 1653 grafts via FUE using the SAFE system motorized manual punch with the .9mm hand piece. This patient was experiencing his hair loss primarily in the frontal scalp and this is where the majority of the grafts were placed. I believe the SAFE system which utilizes the blunt tip technology to extract the donor grafts in the best motorized piece of equipment for harvesting grafts via FUE. I also believe that the .9mm punch tip is ideal for extracting intact healthy grafts, while causing the least amount of scarring. Most punches for FUE are 1mm or larger, including the new ARTAS robot which only uses a 1mm punch at present. the difference between .9mm and 1mm may not seem like much, but when you multiply 1500 or 1600 times .1mm it adds up to a significant amount of increased scarring with the larger punch tip. In this patient I also used ACell which is an extracellular matrix (ECM) a natural biological material that can be implanted at the site of an injury or damaged tissue in order to stimulate healing. The graft stimulates the body’s own cells to form new tissue specific to that site (a process referred to as “Auto-cloning”). Therefore, instead of the body producing scar tissue, the body heals by remodeling with new tissue. I mixed the grafts to be implanted with ACell and saline and then at the end of the case I placed all the ACell and saline over the donor region and over the grafted region. The patient reported a minimal amount of crusting after the procedure both in the recipient and donor regions, and quick healing. The photos you will see show the patient immediately pre procedure and then then 7 days later. I will also be charting this patient’s progress throughout the next year with both photos and video. More to follow.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, M.D.


Today I want to discuss hair transplantation into a mustache scar. This patient was referred to me by a Plastic Surgeon and the patient had the mustache scar for many years and wished to conceal it with hair transplant grafts. I have performed hair transplants into scars all over the face and scalp. It proves very effective in minimizing the appearance of the scar. When scars form, they destroy the hair follicles in that area. When we place hair transplant grafts into the scar it makes the scar appear less noticeable as hair then begins to grow through the scar, like it did before the scar was formed. The growth rate of the hair follicles transplanted into scar is slightly less than hair transplants into normal tissue because of the decreased blood flow present in the scar. In typical healthy tissue we usually see growth rate of transplanted follicles around 90%. When transplanting into scar the growth rate may be somewhere between 70-80%. This still presents with a great opportunity to conceal scars by performing hair transplants into them. I will show the before and after mustache scar photos below and in future blogs I will address scars in other areas where I have performed hair transplants with excellent results.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, MD


Today I will discuss an important concept in Hair Transplant Procedures known as “the illusion of density”. The typical density of follicles in a non balding scalp or healthy donor region is anywhere between 60-100 follicles per cm2. Usually the number is in the 70-85 range. Keep in mind that when I state follicles, the follicles may be single hair, 2 hair, 3, hair, or even 4 hair follicular units. Every individual has a different amount of each, but the average is about 2.5 hairs per follicle, with some having a slightly higher number and some slightly lower. The general rule is that once thinning of hair is noticeable in any particular region, the individual has already lost 50% of the original amount of hair that was present in the region. That is why we can create the illusion of density by re-creating slightly more than 50% of the original hair that was present in any given region. The reason why this is so important is that in many individuals they will go on to lose a large amount of hair over a lifetime. This can lead many male patients to end up as norwood 6 or 7, which means they end up losing most of the hair on the top of their head. The only difference between Norwood 6 and 7 is whether the donor hair fringe on the sides stays high, or gradually lowers over time as well. So clearly there would never be enough hair in the donor region to re create the original amount of density over such a large area. By meticulously and artistically placing the follicles with discrete angles and orientations, and creating a hairline that allows for future hair loss and conservation of donor follicles for this future loss, we can re- create completely natural hairlines, with less hair than was originally present. Hair caliber and curl are major determining factors in the final cosmetic result with an increase in hair caliber by .1mm possibly adding up to 30% to the overall cosmetic density of the final result. Also, skin to hair contrast has a major effect on the final cosmetic density as well.

This is why it is so important to have a strong grasp on the artistic elements that allow us to create this natural hairline and placing the hairline in a location that conserves donor hair for future hair loss.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, MD


Today I will discuss discomfort associated with the Hair Transplant procedure. Many patients are anxious prior to the procedure that the pain will be extremely intense both during the procedure and after the procedure. I have also encountered patients who have been treated elsewhere who did experience significant discomfort either during their procedures or afterward. I can honestly say that the vast majority of my patients report very little discomfort both during the procedure and after the procedure. Typically the greatest discomfort is the first night post procedure and in most cases by the second day after the hair transplant, most of the pain has resolved.

The first thing I do when a patient arrives on the day of their procedure, after they have signed consent forms and all their questions have been answered, we give them a small amount of oral Valium in order to relax. To minimize the pain during the injections of the local anesthetic I use a massaging device that barrages the brain with vibratory sensation thus making the discomfort of the injections very minimal. I have used many different anesthetic devices in the past (The Wand, etc.) and without a doubt this is the most painless way to administer the local anesthetic. I extract the donor strip meticulously and close the donor area with a very fine suture. This also minimizes post procedure discomfort as compared to metal staples or thick sutures which can both be very uncomfortable.

There is never any post procedure pain in the transplanted region. Typically there is some discomfort the first evening after the procedure and the patient is given pain medication is order to alleviate this pain. Usually by the second day, most if not all of the pain is gone and the sutures have been described as “slightly annoying”. With FUE there is almost no discomfort starting day 1 after the procedure and there are no sutures.

I have met so many patients who were scared to undergo the procedure because of their fear of injections or their fear of the pain involved. Universally the feedback has been that the pain associated with the hair transplant procedure, whether by FUT (Strip Harvest Procedure) or FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), is so much less than they were anticipating and would never again deter them from having a follow up procedure.

I hope this helps to alleviate some concern among prospective patients regarding discomfort during and after the hair transplant procedure.

All the best,

Marc Dauer, MD


Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article detailing new research that has shown some correlation between Vitamin D receptors in the skin and the ability to regrow hair follicles in the lab. While this technology is many years away from practical usage in the clinical setting I believe these new findings may help to develop new technologies that will lead to us eventually being able to clone hair follicles in the lab, or stimulate stem cells to create new hair follicles.
I was the expert Hair Restoration Surgeon on The Today Show today discussing this article today.
Here is a link to the show and a copy of the article below.

All the best,
Marc Dauer, M.D.

The Search for a Baldness Cure:

Researchers Target Vitamin D to Coax Dormant Follicles to Grow Hair; Early Promise, But Years to Go


Fresh clues to what makes hair follicles go dormant are pointing toward potential cures for baldness.

Vitamin D and its receptors appear to play a role in hair follicle health and now there’s new evidence that it could help treat common forms of baldness. Shirley Wang explains on Lunch Break. Photo: Getty Images.

Several research teams are working to figure out ways to spur existing follicles—the tiny organs in the skin that give birth to hair—back into action, or to make new, active follicles. New treatments based on this work likely are many years from the market, but these approaches could lead to the significant breakthrough of helping people who are already bald. By contrast, topical products available now, such as Rogaine, appear to be most effective in helping prevent further balding after it has started. And with current surgical procedures, healthy hairs can be moved into bald areas, but the operation has to be continually repeated.

Behind the Baldness

Crucial to the hair-growth and balding process, scientists have found, are vitamin D and the microscopic receptors that bind to it in skin. These elements have become the focus for several research teams. (Supplements might offer health benefits for people lacking enough vitamin D, but they won’t bring back lost hair, researchers say.)

Some researchers, including those from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, have identified molecules besides vitamin D that appear to activate the receptor and hold potential for future treatments. In July, Japanese researchers demonstrated in animals that adding vitamin D helped the process of using stem cells to generate new follicles.

Vitamin D has long been known to be important for keeping bones and skin healthy. But research on its role in bone development has progressed much faster than has the research on skin and hair.

$2 Billion

Amount spent yearly world-wide on

surgical procedures

for hair loss.

Source: the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery

35 million

Number of men affected by male-pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia in the U.S.

Source: NIH

The vitamin D receptor is “crucial for the regeneration of hair,” wrote Mark Haussler, a professor in physiology, chemistry and biochemistry at Arizona State University in Phoenix, in a recent paper. He discovered the receptor in 1969.

Hair growth follows a cycle, with follicles typically producing hair for two to six years before the hair falls out and the follicle lies dormant for a period thought to vary from a few weeks to a few months. A replacement hair then emerges. At any point in time, some 15% of our follicles are sleeping, say researchers.

But for some people, this sleeping phase is permanent, and if enough follicles hibernate in the same skin area, baldness results. The message to grow hair appears to be guided by partner cells called dermal papilla cells. Stem cells in the skin that haven’t matured yet can become regular skin cells or differentiate into hair follicles. Without the right chemical communication, existing follicles go dormant and stem cells that have yet to differentiate themselves may become skin cells instead of follicles.


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Many scientists and several companies have tried to expand the number of follicles and normal dermal papilla cells while maintaining their functioning, but have failed.

The demand for better hair-loss treatments is great. Nearly $2 billion a year is spent world-wide in surgical procedures for hair loss, according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. One of the most common forms of baldness, called androgenetic alopecia—widely known as male-pattern baldness—affects 35 million men in the U.S., according to government data, and is related to the amount of certain hormones in the body. Estimates suggest 20 million to 30 million women also have alopecia, but they generally don’t lose hair in a pattern like men do.

Chemotherapy-induced hair loss in cancer patients is also common, and in some cases, the follicles may die. Several other factors such as childbirth, crash diets and some medications can also lead to hair loss, though the exact reasons why follicles are lulled to sleep isn’t well understood.

Current treatment options include topical products, such as Rogaine and Propecia, which work best for prevention, says Rashid Rashid, a dermatologist at the Mosaic Hair Transplant Center in Houston. Hair transplants—when hairs are moved from one area of the scalp to a bald area—are the other main option. This can be done more quickly than ever now, says Dr. Rashid, but the new hairs don’t regenerate and fall out after a couple of months.

Follicles don’t grow hair well outside the body, so although they can be grown in a lab, they don’t tend to produce hair.

Hair-regeneration research poses several challenges, researchers say. Follicles don’t grow hair very well outside the body, so even though the cells can be grown in dishes in a lab, they don’t tend to produce hair.

Much of the research in the field is focused on vitamin D. The receptor—the lock to which the vitamin D key binds—activates hair growth, rather than the vitamin itself, says Marie Demay, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who pioneered much of this work.

Biochemist Yuko Oda and a team at the VA Medical Center San Francisco and the University of California, San Francisco, recently found a molecule, called MED, that appears to suppress the actions of the receptor. In a study published in December in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, they found that mice generated more hair after the gene that codes for MED in their skin was knocked out, suggesting a target for gene therapy.

Dr. Demay and colleagues last year found another molecule called LEF1 that also activates the vitamin D receptor, and can do so without the presence of vitamin D. The next step will be to demonstrate that activating the receptor in this way would actually produce hair, says Dr. Demay. If these molecules activate the vitamin D receptor, they change the “fate” of the cells into hair cells, Dr. Oda says. The work was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo recently added vitamin D supplements to the medium in which they were growing dermal papilla cells, hoping to spur more uncommitted stem cells to become active follicles.

In rats, the scientists found more stem cells were coaxed into becoming follicles when vitamin D was used in the final phase of growing the cells than those not treated, says Kotaro Yoshimura, a professor in the department of plastic surgery who was the senior author on the paper. In addition, more of those follicles matured to produce hair, raising the hope that this might lead to improved hair transplants in the future. The study appeared in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Currently, hair transplants can only get single hair from one follicle “but we want to make 1,000 hairs from one follicle,” one after the next, says Dr. Yoshimura. They are now teaming up with two other sets of researchers and planning a clinical trial.

A challenge for researchers is that vitamin D has many functions in the body, such as improving bone growth. Taking too much vitamin D can have negative side effects such as calcium accumulation in the blood causing weakness or kidney problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. So it is important that any potential treatment be finely targeted. “We’re really aiming to manipulate vitamin D or vitamin D receptors only in the skin,” Dr. Oda says.

However, the majority of Americans don’t get the recommended daily dose of the vitamin. For some, getting their full amount—from foods such as fatty fish or from being in the sun—may generally improve health and aid hair growth, Dr Haussler says.

Write to Shirley S. Wang at

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Greetings, I just saw one of my patient’s in follow up. He is just under 6 months post his first procedure. His hair is already growing in nicely and he should see significant more growth in the next 6-7 months. The patient was so pleased with the results that he asked to narrate a video testimonial detailing his experience. This is the first in a series of video testimonials from the patient and we hope to chronicle his progress over the next few years detailing the progress from the initial procedure and any additional procedures. I think this video can help anyone who is considering hair transplantation.

All the best, Marc Dauer, M.D.