Dr. Robert Leonard, founder and chief surgeon at Leonard Hair Transplant, is widely sought after for his soft touch, artistic eye and extensive knowledge about advanced hair loss. He is licensed in six states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and currently sees patients in seven offices – in Cranston, Rhode Island; Newton, Massachusetts; Braintree, Massachusetts; Hyannis on Cape Cod; Boston, Massachusetts; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire. In addition to performing hair restoration surgery, he acts as a hair loss expert for ROGAINE®, educating others of the potential hair loss treatments hold.
Dr. Leonard is a past President of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery and was recently appointed to the American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery Advisory Council. He was also one of the early adopters of the innovative ARTAS ROBOTIC SYSTEM®, the first and only FDA cleared robotic hair transplant device.
He recently answered some questions about the evolution of hair transplantation for Beauty in The Bag.
How long have you specialized in hair restoration?
I began my training in hair restoration surgery in 1986 after I met my mentor, the late Dr. C. P. Chambers. This was during the days of the no-archaic “plug” transplant era. Transplants in those days required several sessions in order to provide a natural look.
What has been the biggest change that you have seen in your practice?
The biggest change in my practice was the revolutionary miniaturization of transplanted hair grafts. This occurred in a very few years beginning in the early 1990’s. Today’s transplants contain only one to four hairs, which provides hair loss patients a very natural result even after only one surgical session. There are two different harvesting techniques that I utilize today: strip harvesting and Follicular Unit Extraction Technique (FUE). Each method offers wonderful aesthetic results. It is very important, however, that patients know that it will take several months to achieve these great results.
What do today’s hair transplant really look like?
Unlike in the past where grafts were very large (about the size of a pencil eraser), today’s grafts contain only one to four hairs. In the past, these big grafts needed to be spaced significantly apart so they could grow properly; they also were planted in sort of a “corn row” configuration, providing a not-so-natural effect with only one surgical session. The whole world of hair transplantation has thankfully changed today—and, for the better—much better! We now transplant tiny grafts, very closely together, in order to provide patients with very natural results.
Do you treat many women, and can they benefit from transplants too?
I have welcomed women as patients from the earliest days of my career. I am asked by my colleagues throughout the world to speak about my approach to treating the female hair loss patient. Not all women are candidates, mostly due either to unrealistic expectations of results or because they do not have enough donor hair to provide a proper result. It is critically important that women do as much as possible to stabilize their progressive hair loss with minoxidil and/or low level laser therapy—I personally use the Capillus Laser Cap. If they have enough donor hair, women are excellent candidates for hair restoration surgery. I must say that these patients are the most appreciative of my care as it is not “normal” for women to lose hair or get bald.
What role does technology play in hair restoration today?
We are in a wonderful time in the history of hair loss treatment. The tools we have really work very well to both slow down the progression of male and female pattern hair loss as well as to regrow hair. However, the patients need to be willing to use them. For men, I treat hair loss with finasteride (Propecia), minoxidil (Rogaine, Keranique, etc.), and Low Level Laser Therapy (Capillus Laser Cap, etc.). For most women, I do not use finasteride; however, for some, it is a good option for them especially post-menopausal women. The more of these treatments the patient does at the same time, the better effectiveness. Two are better than one; three are better than two.
There are no other medically proven, scientifically sound therapies available yet to treat genetic hair loss. Some doctors are using purported “treatments” such as PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), Stem Cell injections, and various lotions and potions. None of these have had proper scientific studies to prove that they are at all effective to treat hair loss.
To provide the latest in hair restoration treatments and offer our patients superior results, we have also added the advanced ARTAS® Robotic System to our line of surgical technology. This minimally invasive, outpatient procedure allows us to transplant the patient’s own hair without stitches or visible scarring. Recovery time is fast, we can achieve fuller, natural looking hair that will last a lifetime.
Tell us about your fellowship at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery?
The Board of Governors of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) recently offered the “Fellow” designation in order to recognize members who meet its exceptional educational criteria. It is a great honor for a member to achieve the Fellow designation (FISHRS). This recognizes the surgeon who strives for excellence in this specialized field. To maintain this status, the surgeon must continue to meet established educational criteria over time. I am proud to be one of 61 Fellows of the ISHRS.