Although linear harvesting or 'the strip-method' is the least expensive way to transplant hair, it can lead to a 'tell-tale' donor scar which may be visible from a distance if not covered with enough surrounding hair.
This recent photo of Jeremy Piven (courtesy: TMZ) reveals a particulary wide, likely non-trichophytic, linear donor hair transplant scar.
To avoid a linear scar in the first place, consider hair transplantation with the FUE or Follicular Unit Extraction approach. A new device, called NeoGraft, allows the surgical team to efficiently transplant more hair follicles during an FUE procedure than before. YouTube celeb Kevin 'Nalts' Nalty and Actor/Director Greg Benson (Mediocre Films) both recently underwent FUE/NeoGraft hair transplants and documented their experiences on YouTube. FUE with NeoGraft, as seen recently on Rachael Ray "Plastic Surgery Breakthroughs," allows the harvesting of follcicles from the donor area without the use of a scalpel, stitches or staples. And, while no procedure can be 100% scar-free, after a matter of days healing is complete and undetectable from a social distance--even with a very short haircut.
If you must undergo a linear harvest (perhaps due to budget or extensive hair loss), be sure your hair transplant surgeon is adept at 'trichophytic closures.' A trichophytic closure or tricho-closure is a microsurgical closure technique which allows hair to eventually grow hair through the scar--helping to camouflage it. Tricho-closures are not a 100% perfect solution, but typically allow for shorter haircuts than non-trichophytic linear closures. Also, in preparation for your transplant, let your hair length in the donor area grow to at least 1 inch. This will allow camouflage of the stitches immediately following a linear harvest.
If you've already had a linear harvest and have a troublesome scar, all is not lost! A small FUE/NeoGraft hair transplant procedure can be used to redistribute healthy donor hair follicles into the scar tissue left from hair transplants or scars from other scalp surgery, thereby camouflaging it. Linear Scar Camouflage procedures typically require about 250-350 follicular-unit grafts and now with NeoGraft, can often be completed in just an hour or two. Sometimes, more than one scar-camouflage procedure is needed, depending on the severity of the scar. Again, scar-camouflage procedures are not a 100% cure for a bad scar, but they can often dramatically improve the coverage with just a single FUE/NeoGraft session.
Below is an example of an FUE/NeoGraft donor area Before, Immediately After and One-Week After harvesting of 1600+ Follicular-unit grafts. More FUE donor area photos, including extraction and implantation pictures are on flickr.
My suggestion to Mr. Piven would be to consider FUE/NeoGraft hair transplant procedure to camouflage the linear donor scar.--Dr. B.