What are Hair Plugs?
Hair plugs are a round grouping of hairs that are collected from the donor area of the scalp (typically the back or sides of the head). More recently, hair plugs are typically used to refer to any patch of hair removed from a donor site for transplantation.
This is very real hair and behaves in the same way real hair does. The only downside is it doesn’t look real due to the size of the plug, the round look it has, and the gaps that occur between plugs.
Hair plugs refers to the type of hair transplants that were performed from the 1950s until the early 2000s. During these procedures, a surgeon would punch out relatively large areas of skin and hair from the back of your scalp and transplant them into balding areas. The technology we have now is more improved and sophisticated to that of the 1950s.
Hair plugs have been phased out by the newer FUT and FUE techniques. These newer techniques offer many advantages like quicker procedure times, a lower risk of scarring, and more natural results.
Hair Plugs vs. Hair Transplant
Hair plugs are a form of hair transplant; a grouping of procedures that use implants to cover balding areas. A hair plug is just a particular form of implant, one that is a round grouping of hairs.
- Hair Transplant: This is the procedure itself, in which hair implants (or plugs) are transplanted from one area of the scalp (donor site) to the other (recipient site).
- Implants: This is the hair that is collected and transplanted, either in the form of a strip or single units.
- Hair Plug: This is a type of implant. Traditionally, the plug was rounded and contained one to eight units of hair. More recently, the “plug” is a strip or single unit and is more commonly referred to as an implant.
FUE is newer than FUT and involves removing individual follicles instead of cutting a strip of skin from your scalp. FUE is currently the most commonly performed hair transplant technique and has a number of benefits over hair plugs and FUT, such as:
- faster recovery
- less pain and scarring
- can be effective for people with lower hair densities
- more natural results
Hair Plug Transplant Methods
1. Punch Graft
This method involved the use of a 4mm punch. The punch removed a cylinder of hair-bearing skin, which usually contained anywhere from 12 to 30 hairs. The cylinder of hair was then placed in a punched area within the recipient area.
This led to an unnatural look. The recipient area commonly looked ‘pluggy,’ just like the method, even after four or five treatments. However, even with the unnatural look, this hair transplant method was used for more than 20 years.
2. Mini/Micro graft
A thin strip of hair from the donor area was cut and the area of removal was then stitched leaving a narrow scar. The graft is then placed in the recipient area after a scalpel or needle makes small slits in the scalp.
Minigraft typically contained three to eight hairs, while the micrograft contains anywhere from one to four. For best results, two to four sessions of minigrafting were required to complete the section. This method was less pluggy looking, but it still looked abrupt and a bit unnatural.
Side effects of traditional hair plugs
Traditional hair plugs often produced results that were doll-like and generally didn’t produce results as natural as today’s procedures. Hair plugs also came with a larger risk of complications.
- scalp numbness
- ingrown hairs
- displeasing results
- temporary hair loss
If you’ve received hair plugs in the past and are thinking of changing to modern hair transplant, it’s still possible to get a modern hair transplant if you have enough available hair follicles to use as grafts for balding areas.