Meet the Hair Guru
And by hair guru, we don’t mean king of the latest hairstyles and colors. We mean the surgeon who gives men and women across the globe natural growth when all other efforts have failed. Dr. Epstein is the Founder and Director of the Foundation for Hair Restoration, with nearly two decades of experience as a hair restoration surgeon and a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is renowned for his ability to use the smallest possible recipient sites to help hair transplant patients of both genders achieve the greatest possible density and the quickest recovery time.
How many procedures does it take to help a patient who has lost the majority his/her hair to grow a new head of hair?
With the ability to transplant as many as 3,000 or more grafts (each graft containing between one and three hairs), as much as one-third of a balding scalp can be filled in nicely with hair in one single procedure. For those with advanced degrees of hair loss, complete coverage is not always available, due to limits in donor hair supply, but that still doesn’t mean that impressive improvements cannot be achieved.
How has the field evolved in the last decade?
Just about 10 years ago, the all-microscopic technique of follicular unit grafting became the standard of care, providing undetectable and rather impressive hair transplant results.
Are you using technology to achieve leading outcomes?
A newer development over the past three years has been the technique of follicular unit extraction (FUE), which avoids altogether any linear donor site incision. Instead, with the FUE technique, each graft is removed from the scalp one by one, in a tremendously time consuming and demanding procedure, but one that allows the patient to shave his or her head if desired. Much more recently we have begun to investigate the use of adjuvant healing technologies, including stem cells.
Aside from hair transplants to the head, where are able to help patients grow hair?
Hair restoration for the treatment of male and female pattern hair loss remains the mainstay of my practice. However, I have been at the forefront these past six years in the development of techniques to restore the eyebrows, beard, mustache and chest regions.
Are you able to help men and women of all ethnicities fight the battle against hair loss?
Few patients are not appropriate candidates for hair restoration. Practicing in two quite ethnically diverse cities – Miami and New York City – allows me to see first hand that hair loss is a problem for virtually all ethnic groups. Whether they are of Indian, African, Hispanic, Asian or Middle Eastern ethnicities, patients have options for hair transplant technologies that ensure excellent results.
When it comes to hair, how has the ideal beauty changed or evolved?
For women, beauty ideals have perhaps changed in terms of eyebrow shape, where the thicker, classically “Brooke Shields” eyebrows are now not as desirable as those that are finer. For men, the trend toward no body hair has reversed, and chest and facial hair are considered quite masculine and attractive. Thus the demand for these procedures s increased.
With offices throughout the US, you help people in all parts of the country. How do requests vary from East to West Coast?
Between the three main cities I serve – Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles – the variations are outweighed by the similarities. In fact, with so many international patients, it is clear that even variations among different areas of the world are outweighed by similarities.
How does hair restoration fit in with other plastic surgery procedures? It seems that they are two very different specialties.
Both are cosmetic surgery disciplines, and as such, total facial aesthetics should include an appreciation of the hairline and other important features of the hair. Being able to combine these treatments serves the aesthetically minded patient well.
What is the biggest risk to your continued practice of hair restoration? Is hair cloning going to be the final solution?
Actually, unless I get seriously injured playing ultimate frisbee, I don’t see my practice slowing down anytime in the next five to 10 years. A lot of research is being conducted on the use of hair cloning and cell multiplication, as well as other cellular and genetic interventions for treating hair loss. However, none of these technologies is less than five or more years away from having any clinical applicability. There are still enough poor transplants that will need revisions (my particular area of expertise) to keep me busy for a number of years.