Background. Micrografting has revolutionized hair transplantation, resulting in far more natural results than have been achieved prior to this technique. Operative problems including bleeding, graft compression, and ease of graft insertion have been alleged to be decreased with the use of a high-energy pulsed CO2 laser for creation of recipient sites. However, because of thermal injury to surrounding tissue, diminished hair growth and slower wound healing also have been seen.
Objective. A new laser handpiece, designed to minimize tissue thermal damage to hair recipient sites was tested in comparison to 18-gauge needle recipient sites in the same patients. Hair growth counts at 6 months as well as various measurements of operative problems were compared.
Methods. Two hundred laser grafts were performed on one scalp side and compared to 200 needle grafts on the opposite side. Hair counts preoperatively and at 6 months were performed. Biopsies for depth and surrounding tissue damage were taken intraoperatively. Time for completion of various stages of the procedure for each side were recorded, as well as the incidence of side effects per side.
Results. Hair growth was equal for each side. Bleeding and operative time were significantly reduced and ease of graft insertion was increased on the laser side. Graft compression and scarring were not seen.
Conclusions. Laser hair transplantation is faster than using conventional techniques and results in equal hair growth, and should be considered as a viable alternative technique.