Hair Loss Treatment in the 19th Century

Hair loss can be extremely distressing to those afflicted by it. Therefore, various remedies were seeked for, especially to cure the male pattern baldness. A familiar sight in the 1800’s were travelling “medicine men” selling potions to treat all sorts of diseases and afflictions, including hair loss. Various tricks were used to market the products, for example making patients’ hair look thicker by rubbing grease into it. These years are known in hair loss treatment history as the “snake oil years”, named after one of the sold remedies.
A written record of hair loss treatment through surgery was published as early as 1822 in Wurzburg, Germany. A student named Diffenbach documented experimental surgery in the field carried out both by him and his mentor, Professor Dom Unger. Success in treating baldness was apparently achieved in both animals and humans by transplanting hair from one area of the scalp to another.
However, Professor Unger’s performances don’t seem to have been copied by other surgeons to treat male pattern baldness. Rather, hair-bearing skin flaps and grafts were surgically transplanted in cases of traumatic alopecia – baldness caused by injuries or burns – in the late 19th Century.

Table of Contents:
Hair Loss Treatment in the 19th Century
A Japanese Discovery
The Beginnings of Hair Transplantation in Western medicine
Minigrafts and Micrografts
Laser Hair Transplants
The Gold Standard in Hair Transplantation