Can I get a hair transplant from someone else?
In theory, that answer is yes. Theoretically speaking, it would be possible to take hair from another person (the donor) and transplant it to another person (the recipient) and have the receipt use immunosuppressive medications for life in order to keep their hair growing and prevent rejection. However, practically speaking that answer is no. In the current day it is not possible.
The incorrect assumption that people make is that immunosuppressive medications are safe. Immunosuppressive medications have very serious side effects and don’t prevent rejection in everyone. Inmunnosuppressive pills affect blood pressure, liver function, cholesterol, mood, blood sugars, bone health, weight, kidney function. They can increase the risk of developing various types of infections and increase the risk of cancer. Organ transplant recipients have shorter life expectancies and a higher risk of dying of both cancer and non–cancer-related causes These drugs have potentially serious side effects when used to prevent rejection. For that reason, it is not possible.
Interestingly, there are a few rare situations where it would be possible to receive donor hair from another person. The main one would be a hair transplant in identical twins. Identical twins have the same genetic material and a hair transplant could be performed without the need for anti-rejection drugs.
Can I at least try?
Having encountered this question from patients countless numbers of times, I have come to realize that despite the above information, the question often follows - "can't I at least try?" The short answer is that no, it is not possible to perform a hair transplant using donor hair from another person. In most jurisdictions, it would even be considered malpractice for a physician to even consider performing this procedure in such a situation. However one looks at it, it is not possible and not permitted.
Someday, it will be possible to produce hair follicles form a variety of sources. Exciting research is currently being conducted that makes things that would otherwise seem impossible - possible.
Source: Rosati P and Bergamo A. Allogenic hair transplant in a bone marrow transplant recipient. Dermatol Surg 1999; 25: 664-5.
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