Move over, ARTAS! Almost 100 years ago a Dr. J. S. Parsegan started advertising a hair restoration procedure in the magazine Science and Invention that involved a hair transplant machine used to implant hairs into a patient’s scalp. The doctor would not transplant hair as we know it today but rather he would isolate a long hair of about 18 to 20 inches on a female patient and implant these hairs into the scalp of a male patient using the hair transplant machine.
This had nothing to do with the viability of growth or some other issue that would benefit from this combination. Rather, it was due to the difficulty in finding male patients with such long hair as, I assume, the hair transplant machine used to harvest and re-implant these hairs had difficulty dealing with shorter hairs found on males of the time period (no long hair hippies to be found in 1921).
The doctor ingrafts upon the head of each of the subjects a half dozen of healthy hairs plucked from the heads of beautiful and healthy maidens and specially prepared for plantation, either blond or brunette as desired.
A Hair Transplant Machine Before Hair Transplantation
The magazine felt that since the doctor owned other medical gadgets such as X-ray machines and UV lights that his competency and validity were certain. After reading the extract below the procedure overall sounds quite painful, especially since there was no mention of pain killers!
After [massage] treatment, Dr. Parsegan inserts into a small machine a long female hair, not because the female hair grows better on a man’s head, but it is rather difficult to find a man with hair 18 to 20 inches long. He then goes over the scalp with the aid of a magnifying glass and the instrument and presses a tiny button whereupon the following takes place: Two lances force their way into the scalp carrying between their jaws a section of the female hair. The method of operation is very similar to that employed by the mosquito when it inserts its spears (at least they feel that way) into the skin of the man. The jaws then spread slightly, leaving the hair within the tissue and a knife cuts the hair off short. He then proceeds to another location and if possible plants the hair into a follicle.
The idea behind this approach was that the procedure would stimulate the patient’s dormant hair follicles and new hair would begin to grow on it’s own so the actual idea of transplanting a hair for it to grow for the life of the patient wasn’t quite the concept we would expect but the act of using this ghastly machine and injecting female hairs into male scalps would somehow encourage native hair growth. The only thing I can think it would encourage would be screaming, howling pain and raging infections contributed by the immune system rejection of the injected hairs.
We all know that there were a lot of unusual ways to treat all kinds of ailments and medical conditions back in 1921 but it makes me very curious how this was considered to be a legitimate process, one that specifically called for longer female hair and how it would stimulate the existing follicles to start growing on male patients. I really find this to be an intriguing subject because on at least a basic level it implies that this doctor understood the idea of dormant hair follicles. Mabye not but the similarity to the concept compared to reality is somewhat interesting. I do see a correlation in how ridiculous the hair transplant industry is, more so now that I am not working for one clinic and I can more clearly see the reality of how this industry works but I think more so today there are options available that are just designed to make money that never had a snow ball’s chance in Hell of being taken seriously even by those that create it.
One final note about the device mentioned in this post; the doctor even used the device on himself reportedly having transplanted, or injected, over fifty hairs on his own head. There was no report however on the efficacy of this procedure, nor the death rate.
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I think hair transplantation is painful in 1921.
I agree. I can’t imagine what it must have been like. What blows my mind is that this was almost 94 years ago!