Patients in my practice often ask me if I can take hair from the chest, back or legs and add it into thinning areas on the scalp. The concept of "body-to-scalp" hair transplantation is somewhat new but slowly catching on. Generally, most hair transplant specialists would reserve this technique for very special circumstances (i.e. poor donor hair density at the back of the scalp or poor donor quality, or excessive scarring in the donor area). Hair from other body sites isn’t quite the same as hair on the scalp – it looks and feels different. It grows at different rates too.
Dr. Sanusi Umar, a hair transplant specialist from California, wondered if he could use these differences to his advantage. Specifically, he wondered it he could take advantage of the fact that leg hairs are small, thin and soft and use these legs hairs to improve the appearance of the frontal hairline (which is normally chalked full of soft, thin hairs).
Can hairs from the leg really be transplanted into the hairline?
Dr. Umar studied two of patients, each of whom had 1000 leg hairs transplanted into their frontal hairlines. In both patients, Dr. Umar reported that about 75-80 % of the hairs survived. Interestingly, the transplant legs hairs were a bit longer than the original leg hairs and were less curly. Dr. Umar followed the first patient for a total of 4 years and followed the second patient for 3 years. The transplanted legs hairs remained and grew well in the frontal hairline. Moreover, the areas on the leg where the hairs were taken healed without visible scars.
Dr. Umar's study, which is published in the journal Archives of Dermatology is an interesting and unique study. It shows promise in the use of leg hairs to soften the hairline. As body-to-scalp hair transplants move forward, it seems that both chest hair and leg hair may be a possible source of transplantable hair for some patients.
Umar S. The Transplanted Hairline: Leg Room for Improvement. Archives of Dermatology 2012; 148: 239-242
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299