Hair Transplant Terms: What Is a Scalp Reduction?

A scalp reduction is a form of hair transplant surgery aimed to restore hair to the scalp. This procedure means that a bald part of the scalp is surgically removed and hair bearing skin is stretched and sutured together. The scalp reduction was first introduced during the late 1970’s and at the time seemed like the ideal answer, it was quick and straight forward. The bald skin was simply removed and there was no waiting for the hair to grow.

Not everyone was a suitable candidate for a scalp reduction. To undergo this procedure the client needed a high degree of skin laxity, which refers to how much the skin is able to be moved and pulled. During a scalp reduction, bald skin was removed from the crown or the top, never from the frontal hair line.

One of the biggest concerns with scalp reductions was that the scar on top of the head would develop “stretch back”. This means that because the wound had been pulled together under high tension, the stretched skin would want to go back to its original location. Instead of what should have been a thin line, this would often result in an enlarged scar with no hair growing on it. In addition to a wide hair less scar, deformities of the skin were also common, and hiding of this was often too difficult. Because the wound was sutured under such tension, the client often experienced extreme levels of pain for several days.

A scalp reduction would also result in hair that was too hard to style. With the skin being pulled up from the sides, the hair would go in different directions and angle away from both sides of the scar. As a result of these complications, someone who chose a scalp reduction might have ended up with more cosmetic problems then they previously had.

Overall, there are many possible complications to a scalp reduction surgery and they include excessive pain, discomfort and swelling, as well as scarring and numbness. The scarring and the abnormal direction of the hair often prevented the client from ever looking normal again.

Though scalp reductions were once quite popular they have dramatically decreased in popularity, with the biggest reasons being that they are very invasive and the risk of complications is too high. Scalp reductions also do not allow for the most natural and undetectable hair transplant results. Many doctors believe that alternative methods, such as the Strip and the FUE, are better approaches.

Due to the many issues that follow with scalp reductions, and the superiority of follicular unit transplants, most hair transplant doctors don’t perform scalp reductions in any shape or form. With newer, gentler hair transplant methods being available, a scalp reduction is probably not the best approach to restoring hair to the scalp. Overall, a scalp reduction is considered an outdated procedure by many experts, and has mostly been replaced by newer hair transplant methods.

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