What is a Pubic Hair Transplant?
A pubic hair transplant (PHT) has two meanings:
- The pubic hair in a pubic hair transplant is transplanted from the pubic region onto areas of the scalp that are experiencing balding or thinning. This is considered to be a fringe procedure and is rarely performed. It has, however, been successfully utilized in cases where other sources of donor hair have been exhausted, and the patient is badly in need of hair restoration.
- Hair from another area of the body such as the chest, legs, arms, or scalp is transplanted into the pubic region. This is used in cases where the pubic hair no longer grows due to excessive shaving, or from an inability to grow pubic hair as normal. There are also various cultural reasons as well (see “Pubic Hair Transplant and Asian Culture”).
The History of the Pubic Hair Transplant
A pubic hair transplant is actually one of the earliest types of hair transplant procedures to ever be attempted. A Japanese dermatologist named Dr. Okuda conducted some of the world’s first successful pubic hair transplant procedures just before World War II. Among his many experiments with surgical hair restoration, he performed what is considered to be the first pubic hair transplant by transferring scalp hair into the pubic regions of women. Dr. Okuda has a variety of tools at his disposal including punch tools as small as 1mm in diameter, rivaling punches made today, but the majority of his punches were significantly larger. The procedure was somewhat similar to follicular unit extraction surgery (FUE) technique in use today, except this method was far more rudimentary and crude due to a lack of modern refinement of his tools and lack of expertise.
Why Aren’t Pubic Hair Transplants More Common?
Quite simply, there are too many other donor areas of the body that are preferable over pubic hair such as the arms, legs, chest, and of course the scalp. Pubic hairs have vastly different characteristics than scalp hairs, and although hair grafts do sometimes adapt certain characteristics of the native scalp, pubic hairs still largely remain relatively shortened and wiry after transplantation. Also, in many cases, the color of the pubic and scalp hair is vastly different to begin with. For these reasons, if pubic hair grafts were to be used on a completely bald area of scalp, the difference between the restored hair and the areas with native hairs would be easily noticeable. As such, pubic hair transplants are usually done on areas of the scalp that still retain some original hairs. When used this way, the pubic hair grafts blend in with the preexisting hairs more easily, and can actually add density.
The Pubic Hair Transplant and Asian Culture
While the current trend in the West is to shave the pubic hair away (especially for women), other parts of the world view pubic hair far differently. In Asian countries such as Korea, for example, pubic hair carries connotations of sexual maturity and fertility. Women do not shave their pubic hair because it is considered attractive and desirable. In fact, it is common for a woman to worry about not having enough pubic hair. This is why many Korean women have public hair transplants in order to increase the volume and density of hair in their pubic regions.