From Cathode-Ray Tubes to Flat-Screen TV, and From Plugs to Microtechnology in Hair Transplantation

We expect all facets of our daily life to improve in step with the rapid advances in science and technology characteristic of this age. Cases in point: (1) the "natural" appearing picture we expect to see on our flat-screen television set, and (2) the "natural" appearance of scalp hair after hair transplantation.

Over a period of 60 years, advancing science and improving technology took the television picture from a black-and-white grainy image on a small cathode-ray tube to today's flat-screen image that is the essence of "natural".

Over the same 60-year period, advancing biological science and improving technology took hair transplantation from the era of the transplanted hair plug to today's microtransplantation that is so "natural" that it is difficult to distinguish from hair that was never lost. (See Surgical Hair Restoration for a discussion of hair transplantation techniques).

Those old enough to have lived through those 60 years will remember:

  • The 1950s family gathering around the TV set, somewhat awed at having moving pictures-however grainy and snowy-delivered into the home; and,
  • The first hair transplantation patients pleased to have an effective treatment for hair loss, somewhat amazed that transplanted "plugs" of donor hair could be induced to grow in bald scalp.

Both television technology and hair transplantation surgery are science-based-electronic and materials science in the case of TV, skin and hair follicle biology in hair transplantation.

We live in a time characterized by rapid advances in science and technology. In some field of scientific endeavor such as nanotechnology (Links to www.nanotech-now.com/ and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/wik/Nanotechnology) advances are so rapid that knowledge is outrun and replaced in matters of months. Knowledge in biological sciences tends to grow by accretion rather than rapid overturn, but still may result in replacement of "older" concepts and the incorporation of newer concepts into medical technology and procedures such as hair transplantation. (See Hair Growth & The Hair Growth Cycle and www.keratin.com for detailed information on hair and hair follicle biology).

Once older concepts have been surpassed, newer concepts incorporated into medical technology become the new standard.

If we find someone watching black-and-white TV, we know we are seeing a person who is knowingly indulging in "antique" technology, or a person who hasn't purchased a new TV set for a very long time.

When we see an older man with a densely "pluggy" look in his scalp hair, we suspect we are seeing a man who underwent hair transplantation 20 or more years ago.

It is a odd feature of information transfer that consumer TV has not been defined by black-and-white images for decades, while the "pluggy" image of hair transplantation has persisted despite decades of technological advance that made "plug transplantation" a technique found only in history books.

None of us today would accept black-and-white cathode-ray tube television except as an antique. We demand the "natural" look of flat-screen TV.

None of us today would accept a "pluggy" look as the outcome of hair transplantation. Today's standard is the "natural" look made possible by advances in scientific knowledge of hair growth and advances in hair transplantation technology that builds on the newer knowledge accumulating in hair biology.

Among emerging science and technology are the genetic engineering and cell regeneration that may, one day, make it possible to restore lost hair by stem cell and tissue engineering procedures. (See About Your Hair Loss). It is not certain when geneticically engineered or cell regenerated hair restoration will move from possibility to reality. But, whenever that occurs, we may be sure that the era of "pluggy" hair transplantation will become even more distant history.

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