Body Hair Transplant

Patients with limited or depleted donor hair on their scalp are now able to take advantage of advanced hair restoration technology that allows body hair to be harvested and used for scalp hair transplantation.

While the primary source for donor hair for thinning or balding areas on the head is the donor area located on the back or sides of the scalp, there are a variety of available sources for body hair. These “hair sources” on the body vary in location. Donor hair can be found on the back and chest of a person as well as the underarms, pubic area and legs of a patient. The fact that there are so many available body hair sources means the hair runs the gamut from straight hair to curly hair to fine hair to coarse hair. Most of the body hair follicles have a longer resting (telogen) phase which gives them a limited time that they can grow hair.  In other words, the hair that is transplanted from the body, into the scalp, doesn’t always have a growing hair. They grow for a few months and that growth period is followed by a resting period in which the hair shafts fall out. These periods keep repeating over time.

When comparing the growth (or anagen phase) to the resting (or telogen) phase in hair from different parts of the body, the scalp hair has the highest number (over 95%).  This number means that transplanted hair from the scalp has a very long time period where the follicle grows hair before it goes into a short resting phase.  Beard hair is the closest to the body and it is followed by hair from different parts of the body. For your convenience and easy comparison, here are some numbers that will give you a better idea of the hair growth cycle duration of anagen and telogen in various parts of the body.

Type of Hair Anagen Period Telogen Period Total Cycle Hair Value
Scalp 48.0 3.5 51.5 93%
Beard/Chin 12.0 3.0 15.0 80%
Trunk 4.0 3.0 7.0 57%
Upper Lip 2.0 1.5 3.5 57%
Eyebrow 1.5 3.0 4.5 33%
Ear 1.5 3.0 4.5 33%
Legs 6.0 4.0 10.0 60%
Arms 4.5 3.3 7.8 58%
Axilla 4.0 3.0 7.0 57%
Pubic 3.0 4.0 7.0 43%

Table 1: A look at the average length of anagen and telogen cycles along with the total cycle length for hair from different parts of the body (shown in months). Hair value is calculated as anagen length/total length of each cycle which shows the possibility of each hair follicle having a growing hair.

If you are considering undergoing a body hair transplant, you need to have a good source of body hair.  Beard hair is generally considered to be the second best option after scalp hair for most men.  If a beard hair transplant is not a viable option for you then you will have to look for the areas on your body where the hair grows longer and thicker.

Before they make the final decision to undergo a body hair transplant, it is crucial that patients understand the difference between the cycling of scalp hair and body hair. The hair on the scalp has a much longer growth cycle than the hair that is located elsewhere on the body and it can last anywhere from 1 to 6 years before it starts to shed. The shorter growth cycle for body hair means that each hair grows for just a few months before shedding. Once the hair begins to shed, the hair follicles will enter the resting phase. This is the biggest disadvantage of body hair transplantation and patients must realize that it may require more hair grafts, if hair from the body is used during the hair transplant surgery, in order to get a full and dense final appearance.

Not every patient is qualified to have a body hair transplant procedure and the hair should be examined by a hair transplant surgeon to ensure its quality and viability for the hair transplant surgery. The finer hair from other parts of the body may be used for certain areas that require softer hair such as the hairline and temporal areas.

Body hair transplants are recommended for patients that do not have enough quality donor hair, little to no scalp laxity, a lack of hair in the donor area or significant scarring that may lead to complications during surgery.  Other ideal candidates include patients whose body hair closely resembles the hair that is located in the recipient area.

Finally, when deciding on which type of body hair to transplant, beard hair gives consistent results and is a good choice for patients when the surgeon is aiming for a large yield. If the surgeon and patient are trying to match specific body hair types, the total yield might not be as vital as the actual cosmetic match that is visible to others.