Can You Get a Hair Transplant from a Third Party Donor?
Thanks to today’s advanced medical technology, we’ve all heard miraculous stories about life-saving organ transplants. Occasionally, these transplants involve the recipient receiving the donor tissue from their own body, such as skin or blood . However, the vast majority of stories involve the donor organ coming from someone else.
So, if doctors can transplant complex body parts like hearts, lungs and kidneys from one person to another—can we do the same with hair? Say, for example, you’ve lost the lush mane of your youth, but your best friend still carries every strand. Why couldn’t you ask him for a follicle donation?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Though it might sound like pulling hairs from one head and placing it on another sounds simple enough, it’s an incredibly complicated procedure not just for the surgeon, but for the human body.
Simply put, though hair restoration experts are busy researching ways to make person-to-person hair donation a reality—at this point there’s only one rare instance that makes this kind of procedure currently possible. Otherwise, we’re all stuck with the number of hair follicles we’re destined with.
How Do Hair Transplants Work?
First off, let’s go over the basics of how hair transplants actually work before diving into the science behind why receiving donor hair from others isn’t currently possible.
By far, most people seeking hair restoration surgeries are men experiencing androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness. Male-pattern baldness happens when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) builds up with age. The DHT will tell follicles to slow down production which causes hair to thin, or miniaturize. Over time, these follicles might become completely dormant which leads to permanent balding.
However, the follicles within that horseshoe shaped patch of hair around the back of the head are DHT-resistant. That’s why men suffering from male-pattern baldness might lose significant amounts of hair near the front of their scalp while tightly holding onto it towards the back.
This DHT-resistant area is where hair transplant surgeons typically harvest donor follicles from the patient. The physician harvests thousands of hair grafts from the back of the head. Then they implant each follicle into tiny incisions made within the balding areas.
Within a year, the patient will be growing their own natural hair.
Why Can’t I Get A Hair Transplant from Someone Else?
Now, the looming question of why surgeons can’t transplant a follicle from one person to another. After all, a balding person already lacks plenty of hair. Why remove any hair that’s remaining—even if it’s just moving it elsewhere?
It all comes down to rejection. The body naturally attempts to expel anything it detects as foreign or not part of itself. If an object doesn’t contain our DNA and our unique cell receptors, our body will see it as an invader and reject it. This applies to everything from a splinter to a lung transplant to a hair follicle.
Therefore, when a surgeon implants someone else’s hair follicles into your scalp, your body will immediately see them as a foreign object and mount an attack. Before you know it, they’ll fall out leaving behind thousands of tiny scars, wasted time and money, and infection risks.
So then, how do other organ transplants work? Thankfully, anti-rejection drugs have been developed. These medications keep the body from rejecting the organ transplants and making this modern miracle a reality.
However, anti-rejection (immunosuppressant) drugs must be taken for life. In addition, these medications come with a plethora of serious risks, side effects, and aren’t guaranteed to even work. That’s why doctors will only approve transplants and the necessary, continuous aftercare for life or death situations.
Like it or not, hair loss may be frustrating—or even embarrassing—but it doesn’t qualify as a life or death situation.
The only way a person-to-person hair donation could work is via a set of identical twins. As they share the exact same DNA and genetic makeup, the body likely won’t receive any signals that the new follicles are a threat to the body and it would be accepted as “self.”
However, there’s also the very likely chance that if you’re balding, your identical twin is too. So, unless they’re confident to rock the bald look for life, good luck deciding who gets to be the donor—and who gets to rock an amazing head of hair after the restoration.
Curious about getting a hair restoration, by using your own donor hair, of course? Trust the professionals with years of high-quality care and amazing results. Our expert team at Limmer HTC can’t wait to answer every question and ensure you receive the full, lush hair you deserve. Call us today at (210) 496-9992 at or set up an appointment online anytime.