Walter P. Unger

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Walter P. Unger, M.D.

Walter P. Unger, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C), F.A.C.P., A.B.H.R.S., is a dermatologist specializing in hair transplantation and known for his investigations in modern hair restoration surgery as well as his contributions to physician education.


A disciple of Dr. Norman Orentreich, who is considered the father of modern hair transplantation, Unger became one of the first physicians to limit his practice entirely to hair transplantation. In 1979, he edited “Hair Transplantation,” the first comprehensive multi-physician reference textbook including international contributions on alternative methods, and dedicated entirely to the growing field of hair transplantation surgery.[1] Described as “The Bible” of hair transplantation by the President of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS),[2] the fifth, and most-recent, edition of this updated text (2010) features contributions from 93 physicians representing 22 countries worldwide.[citation needed]

The Safe Donor Zone

Advancing Orentreich’s principle of “donor dominance”, Unger’s study in 1994 helped shape surgeons’ understanding of the limitations of the donor area from which hair follicles area harvested.[3] After examining the scalps of 328 men 65 years of age or older, he became the first to define the parameters of what he coined the “Safe Donor Zone” from which the most permanent hair follicles can be safely extracted for subsequent transplantation.[citation needed] As transplanted hair will only last in its new site for as long as it would have in the original one, the study’s findings continue to serve as the foundation for hair follicle harvesting on which both Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) are based.[4]

Unger was an original investigator for the safety and efficacy of two of the world’s most-widely used medical treatments for hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil.,[5][6] Over the past 35 years, he has been invited to author 34 textbook chapters, has delivered scientific papers at over 142 medical meetings throughout the world, and has trained over 250 current practitioners of hair transplantation that perform the procedure in over two dozen countries throughout the world.[citation needed] For these contributions to the field, Unger was called “the outstanding giant of our profession in (the field’s) first half century,” by Richard Shiell, the editor emeritus of the ISHRS’s official publication.[7]
Unger has been, and is currently, selected by his peers to be included in the database of “Best Doctors” (Canada) as well as in Castle Connolly’s, “Best Doctors in America” and “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area”.[citation needed]

In 1995, he was awarded the “Golden Follicle Award” by the ISHRS for clinical expertise.[citation needed] He was also given the “Manfred Lucas Award” for his “outstanding contribution to the field of hair restoration surgery” in 2003, as well as the “Pioneer in Education Award” from the ISHRS in 2003.[citation needed] Unger currently practices in New York, NY with his daughter, Dr. Robin H. Unger.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Unger WP. “Hair Transplantation” Marcel Dekker Inc., New York, Basel, 1979.
  2. ^ Gandelman M. “President’s Message” Hair Transplant Forum International. 2000, 10(6): 162.
  3. ^ Unger WP. “Delineating the 'Safe' Donor Area for Hair Transplanting” The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery, 1994, 11:239-243
  4. ^ Kaminer MS, Arndt KA, Dover JS. “Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery, 2nd Edition” Saunders Elsevier. Oxford, UK 2009: pg. 379.
  5. ^ Drake L, Hordinsky M, Fiedler V, Swinehart J, Unger WP, Cotterill PC, Thiboutot DM, Lowe N, Jacobson C, Whiting D, Stieglitz S, Kraus SJ, Griffin EL, Weiss D, Carrington P, Gencheff C, Cole GW, Pariser DM, Epstein ES, Tanaka W, Dallob A, Vandormael K, Geissler L, Waldstreicher. “The Effects of Finasteride on Scalp Skin and Serum Androgen Levels in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia” J. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999;41(4):550-4
  6. ^ Rushton DH, Unger WP, Cotterill PC, Kingsley P, James KC. “Quantitative Assessment of 2% Topical Minoxidil in the Treatment of Male Pattern Baldness” Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 1989, 14 (1):40-46
  7. ^ Shiell R. “Pioneer's Page” Hair Transplantation Forum International. September/October 1998, Volume 8, Number 5.

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