As a Asian, Chinese to be exact living in Singapore, I was curious about any distinct traits of “Asian hair” that may present unique challenges for hair transplant operations. I understand that at Alaxis Aesthetics Hair Transplant Clinic you have been doing hair transplants for many years. As I understand Asian hair is typically comprised of 1 or 2 follicular units which is the reason the why most Asians have very straight hair.
- Does this mean it’s harder for Asians to receive a cosmetically successful hair transplant since they have less follicular units?
- Would Asians need more grafts to cover a similar area compared to non-Asians since they have less follicular units?
- What challenges does this present for the performing hair transplant surgeon? Does this mean “dense-packing” is really important for Asian hair procedures?
You certainly have a grasp of the unique traits and “Asian hair” and you bring up some interesting questions about the implications of hair restoration in the Asian population.
You are correct that in Asians the follicular units tend to have one or two hairs on the average rather than two, three, and four hairs, but I don’t necessarily believe that that is the reason that Asians have straight hair. Having straight hair is more of a function of the biochemical structure than numbers of hairs in the average follicular unit.
The factors that have been mentioned, lower number of hairs per follicular unit, lower numbers of donor follicular units overall, and a high degree of contrast between skin color and hair color make it more difficult to create the illusion of density after hair transplants procedure. However, on average the hair shaft diameter of Asian hair is wider than non-Asian hair thereby compensating to some degree for the lower hair density.
The unique challenges involve the need to create a natural appearance and provide reasonable density given the characteristics of Asian hair. Some of these are competing needs and must be balanced by the surgeon and the patient in consultation. Since Asian hair is more coarse it is imperative to use only single hair grafts, and finer ones if possible, in the frontal hair line to avoid a “pluggy” look.
The shape of the Asian skull and forehead tends to be larger and wider, therefore the hair transplants requirement for grafts is potentially larger. The combination of low hair density, high skin/hair contrast, and the need for high numbers conspire to create a challenge in creating density. “Dense packing” is certainly a way to create density however the danger is that you can use up a great amount of donor reserves by creating density in a small area and ignoring the potential future need.
These factors should be discussed with the physician and a plan based on the long term objectives should be implemented with the thought that a compromise in either density or coverage area may be required.
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