interview with Dr. Ray Woods and Dr. Angela
Campbell on the "Woods Technique "
of Micro follicular Hair Transplantation.
Ray Woods and Angela Campbell are a brother
and sister surgical team from Sydney Australia
who has developed a new approach to traditional
hair transplants. Their procedure, known
as "The Woods Technique", allows
them to harvest hair from the donor area
without surgically removing a strip of skin
from the back or side of the head.
recently had the opportunity to discuss
the "Woods Technique" with Dr
Ray Woods and Dr Angela Campbell and witness
a patient undergoing a "Top Up "
procedure at the Woods clinic in Moorebank,
Sydney. The doctors operate out of two locations
in Sydney, one for local patients in Moorebank,
and a beach house clinic south of Sydney
used mainly for overseas patients that includes
a guest suite, which accommodates them during
One of the first things I noticed was that
there were no surgical assistants. I asked
Dr Woods about this and he informed me that
each and every hair is removed and placed
by himself and Dr Campbell. Because of the
unique hands-on nature of their procedure
they only treat approximately four patients
per week, with each patient usually undergoing
anything from one to six procedures. These
procedures can be done on consecutive days.
I quizzed Dr Woods, whilst he prepared the
patient for a local anesthetic, on a few
key questions about his technique that would
help explain his passion and belief that
his method is the finest and least traumatic
hair transplant in the world.
Q: Dr Woods, could you tell us about
your background in medicine and how you
became involved in hair transplant procedures?
sister, Angela, and I studied medicine at
Sydney University. I graduated in 1983 and
Angela shortly afterwards. After spending
several years working in various hospitals
and private clinics Angela and I opened
our own practice in 1986. Although we practiced
all forms of general medicine, our practice
was orientated towards surgical procedures.
Whenever possible, we kept people out of
hospitals if we could perform the surgical
procedure in our rooms. We also treated
skin cancers and gained a reputation for
excellent cosmetic results. Many people
traveled great distances for cosmetic, surgical
and medical treatments.
However I had always wanted to do hair transplantation.
This discipline had always fascinated me
and I first thought about how it could be
done when I was 18 years old. I had a vision
that bulbs could be removed from where they
were plentiful and placed into thinning
areas, one by one. This idea stayed with
me for many years. I knew that you did not
need to replace the exact number of lost
hair in order to achieve an acceptable cosmetic
In the late 1980s I examined various patients
who had undergone hair transplantation by
supposedly the best in the business. We
were confused, disappointed and perplexed
as the advertised results seemed extremely
credible and believable but the reality
fell far short of this.
I realized it was time to commence work
on what I had envisaged so many years before,
that is, microsurgical bulb extraction without
the removal of large strips of skin.
Q: When and how did you develop the technique?
The technique took many years and countless
trials. In fact it evolved over an eleven-year
period. Fortunately we had many of our regular
patients, who were keen to help us develop
our technique and we performed trials on
them. It was tough financially, personally
and emotionally. Hundreds of times the method
and instruments failed, and hundreds of
times I gave up. I would fall into bed late
at night totally defeated, only to wake
up suddenly in the early hours with a new
idea. I would then race into work and try
Q: How do you remove the hair follicles
is impossible to remove bulbs without cutting.
This is a microsurgical procedure. However,
the central principle is of trauma minimalization.
We endeavored to develop a procedure that
was minimally surgically invasive. The first
law of medicine is "Do No Harm".
At one stage I also worried about hair loss.
Hence I tended to adopt that little saying,"
Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you." It was extremely important
for us to be able to remove follicles with
the minimal amount of cutting. Over many
years we perfected the science and the art
of removing follicles via 1 mm Micro incisions.
The time, effort and sacrifices were incredible,
but then again, so are the results, which
makes it all worth it.
Q: How does the technique differ from
the conventional strip excision method?
it is true that the results of many strip
excisions are very good but the results
are critically dependant on the skill of
the technician. Placement, selection and
angulation of grafts is crucial. However
the scar at the back of the head can be
very bad even with the best surgeons as
it is almost impossible to determine which
patients will develop keloid scars or how
a particular person will heal under strong
tension sutures. This is why we have so
much documented and videoed evidence of
severe scarring even with the 'best' surgeons
with good technique. The results of poor
technique can be terribly disfiguring. I
believe our method is vastly superior to
even the best that's out there. One thing
that sets us apart is that each and every
hair is methodically and artistically placed
by myself or Angela, and that is something
that does not happen with other practices
as that work is reserved for the assistants
and is not done by the doctors themselves.
the strip excision an expanse of skin is
removed. This skin is then dissected, mostly
by technicians and assistants. In the best-case
scenario, follicular units are dissected
out with the assistance of a stereoscope,
that is, a magnification device. Usually
the patient needs intravenous pain relief
and sedation, with drugs such as morphine,
pethidine and valium. Due to the sedation,
the client cannot interact, and is not aware
fully of what is going on.
The grafts are then placed into the balding
area. There can be resulting scalp shock,
trauma and scarring depending upon the skill
and commitment of the technicians and assistants.
The ability of the doctor to supervise his
assistants is absolutely crucial. Unfortunately,
if the technician is having a bad hair day,
then you get a bad hair job, but yours lasts
In the Woods Technique, no assistants or
technicians are used. There are no intravenous
drugs. And certainly there is no strip excision.
Follicular units are removed in groupings
of 1,2 and 3 via microsurgical 1 mm incisions.
The procedure is interactive and the client
can observe as we place the hair, one by
one, using 21 gauge, and occasionally 19
gauge hypodermic needles. This can only
be done with magnification apparatus, and
assures no indentation or scarring.
Q: What other benefits does the technique
is minimal trauma to the donor area. Repeat
procedures can be done on consecutive days
if required. We can utilize the entire donor
area. After a few weeks the client can have
a very short haircut without detection.
We can achieve coverage in just a few weeks
that would take strip excision surgery many
years to accomplish. Of course the cosmetic
result is superb and it would be done without
the scarring, scalp shock and trauma. We
take great care with each patient and do
not employ any assistants to work on the
patient. One definite difference is that
we require far fewer grafts to achieve a
comparable or better density and result
to that proclaimed by strip excision advocates,
as almost all of our grafts take and we
actually do COUNT all of our grafts and
thus we have a measurable achievable result.
Q: How long does the procedure take?
difficult to give a general answer as each
case differs depending on the type of head
we are working with. There are many factors
that influence each case such as coarseness
of hair, shape of head, skin tone and of
course the number of hairs the client wants
transplanted. Most take between 2 to 6 sessions,
of 10 to 12 hours each, to achieve the result
we are happy with. On one end of the spectrum,
we do have clients who may only need a small
area to be covered ("Top Up")
and these can sometimes be completed in
a day. On the other end of the spectrum
in cases like those with significant baldness,
more procedures may be necessary. A total
of 6,000 hairs can be transplanted in a
7 to 10 day period. We can do 500 to 700
grafts in a session. Please note that a
graft is equal to a follicular unit, and
each contains 1 to 3 hair, so the average
is 2 hair per graft.
It is not a rushed procedure, and the patient
is relaxed and comfortable.
How many patients have been treated since
you began your technique?
Why are other doctors not using your technique
or a similar one?
why would they bother? To master our procedure
will take many years of intensive commitment
and sacrifice. Failure and frustration will
be common and financial rewards will be
long waited for.
with the strip excision method, there are
cases of doctors taking a one-week crash-training
course and the doctor can set up almost
immediately. The market is massive and full
of naive balding guys who trust in the 'credibility'
of the medical profession. Since the industry
is entirely unregulated, an impressive advertising
campaign can be employed claiming anything
that the doctor is prepared to claim, whether
it be true or otherwise. In America people
who are not actually medical graduates are
allowed to do hair transplantations. How
was it ever allowed to get that crazy?
Do you see other doctors adopting your technique?
masse, no. Strip excision is much easier,
several clients can be done in one day,
hence, the income is greater, and they can
still fit in a game golf.
Q: Do you ever intend teaching your technique
if other doctors express interest in learning
If they are really interested I will coach
them for a minimum of a 12-month period
in the "Woods technique." During
that time they would perform our technique
on patients who have previous scarring from
other procedures and they will learn how
we manage to get the hair to grow back over
the scarred area. After they have learned
the technique they could set up a clinic
in their state and practice the technique
in the same way that we are doing it right
now. The important thing as I said earlier
is that the doctor would do the work themselves,
and not get an assistant to do the work.
In addition I would contractually commit
them to a minimum of 12 months of intensive
training in Australia and have them pass
the equivalent of a clinical examination
and a set minimum number of cases in the
most difficult of transplant and repair
procedures before we would allow them to
have use of the name of the 'Woods Technique'.
would safeguard the public. This totally
unregulated industry is responsible for
unspeakable atrocities. We are determined
to safe guard the public against those who
would abuse our technique with mass production
profit driven clinics.
believe it is high time that strict controls
and regulations be put into place. And this
will start with our technique.
who are totally committed talented and skilled
will be fully trained strictly assessed
and accredited according to a strict code
of conduct and capability. This will be
enforced with legal and contractual obligations.
Q: Could you elaborate on the work performed
on clients who have had previous strip excision
techniques performed on them?
the hairline has been badly placed, or if
there are thick unsightly plugs, then we
can remove those grafts individually. This
also involves Micro skin grafting. We also
get very satisfactory growth in scar tissue.
This means we can place hair into donor
site scars and other scars on the head such
as post operative and radiation therapy
scars where the hair is lost. If the donor
hair has been decimated by scarring and
loss due to tension suturing and shock fallout
we can utilize body hair to infill and repair
Q: What kinds of results can someone
expect from hair placed into scarred tissue
and is the density sufficient to cover up
results can be excellent as is seen clearly
in two of the patients on our website and
video. One was of a lady who had a cancerous
tumor removed and subsequent radiation treatment
to the scalp. Her scar was one of the worst
that we have seen as the tissue was very
atrophic (paper thin) due to the radiation
damage. Her procedure and follow up results
were filmed for a national television documentary.
Another was of a man who had a terrible
strip incision scar. His donor site was
extremely thin. His scar repair was through
the combination use of his chest hair and
donor hair. The results were extremely pleasing
and are self-evident and the density is
limited by the patients themselves when
they feel they have enough.
How much does your procedure cost and how
do you calculate the cost, is it a per graft
costs are not simply a per graft fee. .
The costs are based on the perceived difficulty
of the procedure, the number of grafts required
and the time estimated for the procedure.
With many repair procedures we are taking
grafts out of unsuitable areas and then
reutilizing them and skin grafting where
necessary. The client's needs are also taken
into account, for example we provide beachside
accommodation with surgical facilities onsite
and 24 hour access to ourselves for overseas
clients. Costing is on an individual basis.
Obviously the less complicated, the less
costly the procedure, but it ranges from
$7,500 to $12,000 (US Dollars) at the present
time. Recently we have had clients where
even the slightest haircut was not wanted.
We then removed the grafts without cutting
any hair but then again removing long hair
is more difficult and takes longer and as
such has a different costing.
are sensitive to cases of hardship especially
where there is scarring and /or an unnatural
Wood's web site can be found at http://www.4hair.com.au