What is the Recipient Scalp?

In reference to hair transplants, this is the general term that’s given to any area that is experiencing significant hair loss, and is in need of hair. The recipient scalp can either be experiencing hair thinning or else it can be completely bald. Simply put, it is the area of the scalp where the healthy hairs are going to be transplanted to. It may also sometimes be referred to as the recipient zone.

How is Hair Moved to the Recipient Scalp?

During a hair transplant, hair must be taken from a healthy area of the body (usually from the scalp, but sometimes from the arms, chest, legs, or even from the beard) and transplanted onto the recipient scalp. There are two common ways to do this.

  • Follicle Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS) – to perform this procedure, the following steps are involved:
    1. A physician begins by removing a strip of hair from within the donor zone at the occipital scalp, which is located on the back of the head.
    2. Technicians that work with the doctor go on to remove each individual follicular unit from the strip itself, and prepares them into specialized grafts. The technicians use stereoscopic dissecting microscopes to achieve this.
    3. Using a needle or a blade, the physician makes hundreds or thousands of incisions on the recipient scalp in preparation for the transplantation. These incisions are known as recipient sites.
    4. The follicular units are grafted into the recipient sites on the recipient scalp.
    5. Over a period of months, normal hair begins to grow again.
  • Follicle Unit Extraction (FUE) – This procedure is much like a FUSS procedure, but the donor hair is not taken as a strip. Instead, the hair is taken from different areas of the scalp (or body) using a special tool commonly referred to as a “punch”. These follicular units are then grafted onto the recipient scalp by creating thousands of tiny recipient site incisions, much like a FUSS procedure.

Why Can’t I Get a Hair Transplant Using Someone Else’s Hair

This is a common question, and the explanation is quite simple. If you were to take someone else’s hair and transplant it onto your head, your immune system would identify the hair as a foreign agent and begin attacking (much like any other organ transplant). In short, the recipient scalp will reject anyone else’s hair due to a difference in genetic code. Although there are drugs that will suppress the body’s immune system, the side effects of these drugs are serious enough to exclude their usage for cosmetic procedures such as hair transplants. Therefore, the only way that a person can get a transplant using someone else’s hair is if they have an identical twin. This was accomplished in 1988 with a person to person hair transplant using identical twins.

Virgin Recipient Scalps

The most preferable types of recipient scalps are those that have never undergone a hair transplant before. Otherwise known as “virgin scalps”, these scalps are generally scar free and allow the doctor to dictate the future with regards to how the patient will recover and progress with their result. If the first procedure is not performed correctly, and the recipient scalp is damaged, it will influence not only the appearance of the patient negatively but it will also influence the success of each surgery to come. That is why hair restoration surgery is a very difficult procedure as mistakes are not easily hidden.

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