Journal article validates the coming of age of hair replacement surgery

More than half of all men and one third of all women in the United States are going bald. But in the past, hair transplantation procedures were not designed for everyone. Now, new technology has arrived to give all patients a shot at "good hair," according to a new study published by James Harris, M.D., of the Hair Sciences Center of Colorado.

Published in the January 2006 issue of Dermatologic Surgery, the article examines a study piloted by Dr. Harris to determine the efficacy of the SAFE – Surgically Advanced Follicular Extraction (SAFE) System. The SAFE System SM, developed and patented by Dr. Harris in 2004, utilizes a small, self-contained device to isolate, extract and transplant singular units of hair without the trauma associated with other types of hair transplantation surgery.

Twenty-two patients were enrolled in this pilot study, followed by an additional 37 based on the success of the first group. Final results of the study indicate lower follicular transection rates, the cutting or damaging of hair follicles, than traditional follicular unit extraction.

The results of Dr. Harris' study are positive news for the roughly 40 million Americans experiencing hair loss. Lower transection rates mean increased accessibility for African-American and elderly patients who may not have qualified for the procedure due to particular hair qualities. Other benefits of the SAFE System methodology include virtually pain-free surgery, faster recovery time and increased efficiency for physicians performing the procedure.

"These results are very exciting for anyone who has considered hair replacement," explained James Harris, MD. "I feel strongly that this is the future of our specialty – offering excellent options for every candidate."

Prior to the development of the SAFE System, hair transplant surgeons had to rely on traditional, invasive surgical procedures that required the surgeon to surgically remove strips of scalp from the sides or back of the head, resulting in a linear scar and a lengthy healing time. In recent years, technological advancements have led to the development of Follicular Unit Extraction. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) involves the removal of singular follicular units of hair. While less invasive than traditional transplants, traditional FUE is time consuming, more expensive and only appropriate for a small percentage of patients. The SAFE System was developed to improve upon the difficulties associated with this system of FUE.

A survey by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery underscores the growing popularity of hair replacement surgery. The survey found that more than 168,000 hair transplant procedures were performed worldwide in 2004, with about half of those procedures being performed in the United States. The survey found that 40 is the average age of men and women seeking these procedures.

Dr. Harris will present the SAFE System and further advancements in hair tranplantation as the host of the first-ever International Society of Hair Replacement Surgery Regional Workshop. Physicians from around the world will gather in Denver on April 21-23 to participate in live surgery demonstrations and listen to lectures by leaders in the area of FUE.


James A. Harris, MD, FACS, co-author of The Hair Replacement Revolution, is a plastic surgeon who works in the field of hair restoration. He is a faculty member of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he teaches hair transplantation to resident physicians in training and community physicians.

Editors/producers, please note: To access Dr. Harris' journal article, New Methodology and Instrumentation for Follicular Unit Extraction: Lower Follicle Transection Rates and Expanded Patient Candidacy, please go to A fact sheet about hair restoration and before and after photos are also available at this web address.

Last updated: 30 Apr 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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