Dr Sanusi Umar, a hair transplant specialist based in Los Angeles, California, has been granted a US patent for a system he has invented that he claims will help men suffering from hair loss to have body hair transplanted into their scalp.
UGraft Revolution system
Umar, who is already well known for his work in using areas of body hair as donor sites during hair restoration procedures, says his new system, the UGraft Revolution, will improve the success rate of operations of this type.
A press release issued this week explains how one of main challenges in using body hair as donor hair is the sharp angle it grows at. When using regular, cylindrical Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) punches to remove it, the donor hair often gets damaged. To get around this, Umar’s registered UPunch device – an integral part of his UGraft Revolution system – has a “much safer curved cutting directed away from the hair follicle.”
It is a motorised hair-harvesting tool which – unlike the ARTAS robot system – is still used by the surgeon and is not fully automated. Whereas the ARTAS system has been cleared by the FDA, there is no mention of this type of approval in connection with the UPunch or UGraft Revolution yet.
The UGraft Revolution system drives the UPunch and incorporates a foot-pedal controlled fluid irrigation and flushing system said to keep the extracted hair well-hydrated, thus eliminating the drying-out of follicles that is sometimes seen during extraction. “Drying of grafts is a usual case of graft death and poor growth following transplantation,” says Umar (pictured).
Donor hair in short supply
Dr Umar’s press release advises “Conventional transplant surgery relies on hair grafts from the patient’s scalp. However, there are many cases where patients lack sufficient quantities of head hair. In these circumstances, hair from the body can be used to expand the available donor supply for these types of patients.”
The traditional donor area is generally located at the back of the head, where male pattern baldness does not affect the hair. This is because the DHT which causes genetic hair loss only attacks follicles at the top of the scalp. According to UGraft’s promotional material, this type of area can usually yield around 7,000 grafts, however, ‘many patients’ now want ‘fuller coverage’, which obviously requires a greater number of donor hairs, which is where being able to utilise body hair – particularly a mix of scalp and body hair – can be an effective solution.
As well as body hair, Umar claims his technology is very well suited to his African American patients whose curly, helical afro hair extends beneath the surface of the scalp and is sometimes considered unsuitable for extraction with existing FUE punch tools. Umar says his UGraft Revolution system has been designed to overcome these challenges, resulting in “successful FUE in almost all presenting patients within this demographic.”
Issues with using body hair on the scalp
Body hair transplants are fairly controversial given some leading hair loss experts believe they are unlikely to produce a natural looking result. This is not because the hair does not grow in a natural fashion, but rather because of the differences between body hair and scalp hair.
Typically body hair is only used in restoration procedures as a last resort, as its growth patterns and texture can be unpredictable and sometimes at odds with those of existing head hair. But in cases where head hair is sparse, there is sometimes little other option for men – or women – determined to have hair transplant surgery.
Body hair has a thinner shaft than head hair so it can look noticeably different in terms of texture. Scalp hair can also be grown long, unlike body hair which tends to stop at a certain length. Another issue is that the resting (‘telogen’) phase of the hair growth cycle is longer for body hair – often more so than the growth phase – meaning transplanted body hair may shed for longer periods. As such, whilst used sparingly to fill in small areas and mixed in amongst scalp hair grafts, this technique may be useful, however it is still considered far from ideal.
Transplant preparation or alternative option?
In the UK, many hair transplant specialists recommend following a six-month hair loss treatment course in the run-up to the operation to stop further shedding and strengthen the hair, ensuring it is in optimal shape for the surgeon to work with.
“Much of the time men see promising regrowth from around three to four months after starting their treatment plan – sometimes it can take a little longer, depending on how much hair they had lost before they started their course,” notes Belgravia’s Senior Trichologist, Leonora Doclis. Adding,” But what we often hear is that they feel good enough about their results that they no longer want to proceed with the operation – especially seeing as they would need to keep using their hair loss treatments after having a transplant anyway as part of a maintenance programme to preserve the hair around the restored area.”
Abdul – pictured here before and four months after starting his male hair loss treatment course with Belgravia – is just one of those clients. “In the start I was strongly looking for hair transplant,” he told us. “After the first check up I was so glad to see my hair improvement and looking forward to complete and continue my treatment.”
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.