Why have wigs, hair systems, and hair pieces changed in design? The answer is evolution. What does that mean? Hair additions (wigs, hair systems, hairpieces and hair extensions) have evolved in how the hair is processed as well as how natural the hair addition is perceived.
Hair processing has changed in the last 40 years. Different hair types are available. Indian, Indonesian, Burmese, European, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Remy are all descriptions of hair type and processing. Remy simply refers to leaving cuticle on the hair so it is more natural and less processed. The other names or “places” are where the hair originated from. We did not have several choices of where the hair originated and the factory did not disclose this information. Hair was simply hair.
Most hair was original sewn into weft, a line of hair commonly used in less expensive wigs or extensions. Now hair is hand sewn into net, silk, urethane, or another type of base material so it looks more natural and is more versatile in application. Hair systems, hair pieces, mono top wigs and handmade wigs use a more natural base material so the appearance of the hair “addition” looks more realistic. Lace fronts, skin units and other types of handmade materials were not readily available years ago so the systems were heavy and thick in appearance and not as natural looking. In the 1980s the hair market actually had a shortage of human hair, thus giving rise to mass production of synthetic fiber for use in hand made hair goods.
Synthetic fiber was a suitable replacement for human hair until……..clients realized it could not tolerate heat, friction and could not be colored. Furthermore long synthetic fiber when worn over clothing will get frizzy over time. So we went back to human hair and found alternate sources of supply. Today human hair is still used extensively BUT many wigs and hair systems are so lightweight and realistic looking that their life span has become reduced, thus giving the birth to program hair or disposable hair. That is topic for another time!
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure where hair is removed from the back of your head and transplanted to the front, top or crown. If you look at a bald man, they generally keep the hair on the sides and back of their head. That hair is “formulated” differently from the hair in front or on top, and therefore when transplanted, generally stays and recurring hair regrowth is almost automatic. That hair does not really recognize that it in a different spot on your head and continues to grow normally. If hair loss occurs in the transplanted areas, it could be a result of scalp trauma or the original non-transplanted hair reacting to DHT in the scalp.
There are three methods of transplantation: mini-graft, FUE and the plug method. The plug method is an obsolete method not used often today. A physician literally removes a plug of hair from the back of the head which may have 15 or more hairs in it and that entire plug is transplanted to the front. The hair roots and generally over time it will grow normally. Over time, often these patients appear to have a “baby doll” unnatural hair line. This method was more commonplace thirty years ago and is seldom used.
The mini or micro graft method is a procedure whereby a physician removes a strip of hair from the back of the patients head and that graft is cut into mini and micro grafts. The mini grafts may have three or four or five hairs and are good for the center of the head. The micro grafts have one or two hairs and are used primarily for the front hairline. Skilled technicians separate the hairs in specific sections of mini and micro grafts so the physician knows what graft to place in what section of the patients scalp. This procedure is commonplace today.
FUE or follicular unit extraction is where the transplant may be assisted by a computed and the hair removal and placement is done with one or two hairs at a time from extraction to placement. The benefit of this method is there is little or no scarring and the area of hair “harvestation” is much larger. This is, however, the most expensive method of hair transplant surgery and requires a skilled technician for extraction and placement. The hair grows normally and the patient may return for a second surgery to increase the density of the transplanted hair.
Transplants are not for everyone. Some people are simply too bald all over to be a good candidate. Patients with alopecia are not candidates. Often there simply isn’t enough hair to move around the head to show adequate density and maintain good density in the harvested area. Think carefully about your finished hairstyle, density, length, donor area density, and age when considering this surgery. It can work but sometimes you may be better off with a non-surgical solution.