Body Hair Transplant (BHT) on the Scalp
Today’s blog topic is going to cover body hair transplants on the scalp to treat male pattern baldness. Body hair transplants, commonly known as BHT, involves extracting body hair via FUE from areas not limited to the beard, arm, back, chest hair, leg hair, and even pubic hairs and transplanting them back into the scalp. It has been gaining much popularity over the years, esp. in India, given the fact that many Indians are hairy, and is usually performed for those suffering from a higher degree of extensive baldness with poor donor supply. As you know, the only place on the scalp that is known to be DHT resistant for most people is the back region of the scalp, so for people who are suffering from extensive hair loss, they may be better candidates since they don’t have enough scalp hair for an FUE.
Body hairs have different textures, lengths, different anagen/catagen/telogen phases, so doctors need to be critical when transplanting body hairs into the scalp. There has been many mixed claims regarding body hair’s adaptation to the scalp. Some doctors claim that once body hair is implanted on the scalp, the body hair takes on the characteristics of the native hairs on the scalp as this is provided by the concept of recipient influence, which suggests that the dermis in the recipient zone exerts influence on the growth pattern of transplanted hair, and later, you’ll see that body hair transplanted on the scalp grew longer and thicker. Some of the best body hair transplant results come from the beard and chest hair but patients still end up using body hairs from different parts of the body. The good thing about beard hair is that it grows thicker in comparison to scalp hair and may be good when used to increase density in the mid scalp and the crown region. Some issues with using BHT is that the body hairs tend to lie more superficially in the dermis than scalp hair, and are anchored deeper, which also increases the transection rates which ultimately lowers the graft survival rate.
There was a study done on one individual, a 63 year old male, who had extensive baldness and wanted to proceed with a body hair transplant despite being advised against a transplantation. A test graft by FUE was performed to determine its feasibility with 400 grafts from the chest. After 5 months and satisfactory growth, a larger procedure was planned.
The man ended up with various body hair transplants including his chest, back and abdomen, arms and thighs for a whopping total of nearly 9000 grafts.
The crazy thing about this study was the transection rate where all of the regions extracted had over 13% transection rate and even as high as 32.7% for the hairs that were extracted from the back. To give you a comparison on scalp hair, normally a good transection rate for regular FUE done from scalp hair is anything lower than 7%, so body hair transplant transection rates are just nuts because of the fact that they are more difficult to extract due to its characteristics.
Anyway, the extracted body hair grafts were transplanted into the scalp and reached a length of 3 cm to 4 cm by 8 month.
Here are some before and after photos of the subject:
This is possible with those who possess good body hair and based on the study, a good density would be at least 8 follicular units per cm2 based on a study from Dr. Umar, a renown US dermatologist, so in other words if you’re hairy, you’d be a good candidate for BHT.
However, BHT does have its limitations. Imagine all of the anesthesia the guy had to go through to extract nearly 9000 grafts from various parts on his body and having such a high transection rate. The other negative thing I can think of is that most body hairs are single grafts so the desired density may not be achieved as with scalp hair where we have anywhere from 2-4 hairs per graft. Body hairs are also usually shorter and thinner (besides beard hair) and needs special expertise when extracting due to high transection rates. And, we don’t know too much about the long term effects of body hair.
There’s also not too many doctors who specialize in BHTs but a doctor by the name Arvind Poswal from India has probably become one of the world’s most experienced surgeons when it comes to BHTs.
Here is an example photo of Dr. Poswal's patient who had BHT due to extensive hair loss:
As far as pricing, BHTs tend to be more pricey than regular scalp FUEs. Some places in India charge about $1.5-2 per graft for BHT and similar prices in Turkey, while in the US, it can go upwards to $10-$12 per graft. I would really hold off doing a BHT unless you are 100% lacking donor scalp hair and you just feel that you really need to get a transplant and can accept the risk that there is a possibility that your hair will have weird length and texture. I also would advise doing this on the hairline since it’ll most likely look super unnatural and if you really were to do it, it’d be best used in conjunction with regular scalp hair and more as a supplement to add in density. Here’s how I see it. If you need BHT on your scalp, you’ll never ever end up with natural looking and dense results. Your baldness has gone beyond the point where you would be able to get a nice head of hair, but that’s just my opinion. Share with me your thoughts on BHTs, and let me know if you would do it if given the opportunity.