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ARTIFICIAL (SYNTHETIC) HAIR IMPLANTATION

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The hair transplant industry could not be left far behind and so some companies decided to invent ‘INSTANT HAIR’ which is commonly referred to as Artificial or Synthetic hair transplant.

The appropriate term would be- ‘ Synthetic hair Implants’.

To understand this we need to refresh our knowledge SINCE It is essential to be able to differentiate between an IMPLANT & a TRANSPLANT.

Hair transplants are natural since they use one’s own hair from the permanent zone and they grow when relocated. They are living tissue and retain the same characteristics like the hair from where they have been lifted. After an initial lag period, no special care is needed. The hair keep growing and you visit the barber to cut them or style them as before balding hit you.

However hair implants are made of synthetic material. Earlier, modacrylic, polyacrylic and polyester were used which were not exactly biocompatible. Presently companies have improved on the previous composition and artificial hair are now made of polyamide based materials ( PBT: Polybutylene Terephthalate) which are stated to be better for the purpose of hair restoration.

They have a long and checkered past and an inglorious history since 1970 when they were first introduced. There were complaints and allegations of severe contact dermatitis, fears of carcinogenicity, cyst formation and increased scarring of the scalp. In 1983, succumbing to numerous complaints from patients, doctors and the public, USFDA banned artificial hair fibers stating that the information provided by the company was deceptive and inadequate and that the fibers did not show any benefit to public health. The term ‘Fraud’ was also used while castigating promotion of the synthetic fiber.

Many other countries have, however, allowed it’s useage with restrictions since 1999 when they were reintroduced. The company has ever since been trying to establish credibility of the hair fiber and even sent numerous pleas and petitions to the USFDA, which re-evaluated it’s stand in 2004. However, USFDA decided in their best wisdom to continue the ban vide its notification:

‘BAN- The Ban on Prosthetic hair Fibers established in Section 895.101 of 21 Code of Federal Regulation of FDA title 21 Vol. VIII revised April 1, 2004.’

The status quo is maintained ever since.

Synthetic hair fiber is available in 4 forms- curly, wavy, Afro and straight. 13 colors and shades can be chosen from. Each fiber is 15-45 cms long depending upon requirement.

A 100-500 fiber test session is done usually 4-6 weeks before the main procedure to check for rejection by the body. If the body ‘takes’ the foreign body well, a session using 500-6000 fibers is planned.

Fibers are placed using an implanter pen. The knot at the end is inserted into the deep galeal layer of the scalp.

Antibiotics are needed for upto 30 days after the procedure or longer.

The implants require regular cleanng to remove sebum plugs that form. Best done every 3 months.

STATED BENEFITS OF SYNTHETIC HAIRS:

  • Instant result unlike in hair transplant.
  • No shedding.
  • Can comb, wash like natural hair
  • Does not get affected by signs of aging- graying of hair.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN:

  • Rejection of the synthetic fiber is an ongoing process and is an essential part of the timeline of this method of hair restoration. The body recognises the fiber as a foreign body and starts to throw it ot of the body. 30% of hair fibers are lost in the first year of its implantation. 100% hairs fall out in 3 years time.
  • The implant while being exposed to the elements gets dull and this may start in the third month itself.
  • The process of rejection involves inflammation, scar formation and decreased blood supply over time. With repeated insertions of these fibers over time, the scalp scarring increases and blood supply decreases. This can even affect existing hair growth.
  • The fibers can cause intense itching due to the rejection process which promotes inflammation. However the product comes with a WARNING- “DO NOT SCRATCH!”
  • The fear of carcinogenicity is real.

If the company can show me 10 individuals who have been happy after 2 years of this procedure, I will happily start using it in my practice, if it is legal to use in my country- India.

CONCLUSION:

However, this does not mean that we close our minds to this field. With improvements in science and technology in the use of this entity, who knows they may have a bright future ahead!

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