Several clinical research studies have demonstrated that chronic cutaneous wounds can be treated with hair follicle grafts. However, the clinical outcomes of hair follicle grafting compared to split-thickness skin grafting have not been examined. This study sought to compare the clinical outcomes of patients with chronic wounds following hair follicle therapy and split-thickness skin graft therapy in a relatively large cohort of patients. Forty patients were enrolled in the study, a retrospective analysis of all patients underwent therapy with hair follicles (cohort A) and split-thickness skin grafts (cohort B) was performed. Safety, healing duration, skin quality (recipient site), scar formation (donor site) and overall postoperative outcome were analyzed. The wound sites were examined using photography at weeks 2, 8, and 12 after surgery. Five non-biased reviewers estimated the above-mentioned clinical outcomes using a five-point Likert scale. The ages and wound areas were similar between cohorts A (n=20) and B (n=20). Total wound closure was observed and adverse events were rare and controllable in both cohorts. The skin and scar quality were rated significantly higher in the hair follicle cohort than the split-thickness skin graft cohort (4.40 vs 3.45, P<0.05 and 4.65 vs 3.20, P<0.05; respectively). Hair follicle therapy resulted in a significantly higher overall score than split-thickness skin graft treatment (4.45 vs 3.40, P<0.05). This study demonstrated that hair follicles can achieve better skin/scar quality and overall clinical outcomes than split-thickness skin grafts. Hair follicles should be considered an effective surgical technique for the treatment of chronic cutaneous wounds.
Keywords: Hair follicle; chronic wound; re-epithelialization; wound healing.