Creating recipient sites in hair transplantation

Different sized needles for different purposes

A hair transplant is a cosmetic procedure whereby hairs are moved from one area of the body (usually the back of the scalp) to another area of the body (such as the front part of the scalp, or eyebrows or beard.  

In order for new hairs to grow in a newly chosen area, small tunnels called "recipient sites" must be made. These tunnels are just 3-5 mm in length and must be created with the perfect depth. The tunnels must also be the perfect width to accommodate the new hair.

Choosing size of recipient sites

I use a sharp instrument to create the recipient sites. Usually I use needles, but sometimes I also use blades. The photo to the right shows different sized needles which are used for different purposes.  For delicate work on the eyebrow, for example, I might use a 22 gauge needle or a 23 gauge needle. For the frontal hairline of the scalp, I might use a 20 or 21 gauge needle. If I am creating recipient sites to accommodate big 3 and 4 haired grafts I might use a 19 gauge needle and very rarely an 18 gauge needle as well.  The smaller the gauge size the bigger the tunnel that is created.

Careful attention to the size of recipient sites is important so that new grafts can grow properly.  


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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