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Hair plugs are used to describe the first grafts used for hair transplant surgeries in the 1950s. The plugs were essentially individual follicles of hair transplanted from one part of the body to the head. Unfortunately, when the plugs were originally used, they were unsuccessful. Initial hair plugs were relatively large and gave people the appearance of having unrealistic doll-like hair.
Hair plugs are still used in hair restoration surgery; however, their use has evolved over the years. Today, surgeons use extremely small individual grafts that give a person the appearance of having their own hair. During the surgery, the doctor will remove the skin that contains hair follicles to the parts of the head that are experiencing balding.
In the medical office, the term hair plugs is rarely used today. Today hair transplant procedures are normally referred to as follicular unit extractions. The difference between hair plugs and follicular unit extractions is the number of hairs removed during the procedure. Only one to three follicles are inserted into an area during a follicular unit extraction, while plugs previously moved much larger areas of up to ten hairs during a transplant procedure.
In most cases, the plug is used to treat male-pattern baldness, a genetic condition in which a man’s hormones alter the resistance and appearance of hair follicles. When treating male-pattern baldness, the hair is usually transplanted to the crown of the head or along the hairline.
Areas that are prone to balding are located above the forehead, a receding hair line, and on the vertex of the head at the crown. In addition to treating male-pattern baldness, the plug can be used to treat any area where hair follicles have become vulnerable to balding. Plugs can be used to restore beard hair, eyebrows and even eyelashes.
There are other options that individuals can use to cover the cosmetic effects of balding. For example, the use of a hairpiece of a toupee is a possibility. In most cases, an individual chooses to have their hair transplanted because it gives a more natural appearance.