Follicular Unit Extraction, also known as FUE Hair Transplantation is a procedure that allows the patient to keep their donor hair very short with no apparent scar. In traditional follicular unit hair transplantation there is always a small linear scar where the hair is removed that is covered by the surrounding hair. If the patient later shaved their head the scar may be visible. This is not the case with FUE’s since every follicular unit is individually extracted leaving the donor area virtually scarless. The trade off is that the procedure takes much more time and usually involves few hairs transplanted at a time in comparison with a strip procedure.
Strip harvesting produces a linear scar. The appearance of the donor strip scar can be a significant concern for patients who wish to wear their hair very short. The vast majority of patients who undergo strip harvesting have minimal scars that are easily concealed by the hair above the scar. However, some scars may widen overtime. The use of the trichophytic method of closure for strip harvesting can help improve the appearance of the strip harvest scar.
The primary rationale for the use of FUE is that a linear scar is avoided. Several proponents of FUE market the procedure as a technique that does not involve cutting, is less invasive and does not result in visible scars. While a linear scar is not created with FUE, circular scars are created and can be invisible to the naked eye and well camouflaged by the hair that surrounds the harvested areas. Those tiny scars are usually 0.8mm to 1.0 mm in diameter and it heals very nicely.
Strip harvesting and FUE are both acceptable techniques for harvesting donor grafts. Each technique has advantages and disadvantages. FUE is well suited for patients who insist on not having a linear scar, among other indications. It may be an excellent choice for young patients seeking small procedures. Large procedures are usually done in two days. FUE may be the ideal choice for harvesting trunk, leg and arm hair, and it is an excellent way to camouflage strip scars.
FUE can be done either manually or automated. Neograft FUE is a more recent technology of automated FUE. Automated FUE might help to offset some downside of manual FUE procedures, such as operator’s distraction or fatigue, when performed by an experienced operator.
Common questions about FUE include the following:
Am I a good candidate for hair transplant?
This depends on several factors. These include – but are certainly not limited to –your current age, your age at the onset of hair loss, the amount of hair present in the donor area, and your response to previous medical treatments. When evaluating potential candidates, we must also consider the potential for further hair loss in the future and evaluate this potential against the benefits of surgery.
Please keep in mind that hair transplantation is not a cure for hair loss, which is a condition that is likely to continue and progress with age. As there is a limited supply of donor hair, planning for the future is essential to ensure an excellent outcome.
What can I expect from the procedure?
The procedure typically lasts 3-8 hours, depending on the case and the extensiveness of the transplant. You will receive a local anesthetic in both the donor and recipient areas. The amount of discomfort during the procedure is minimal – in fact, many patients even rate the small pinch of dental block higher on the pain index.
You will be fully awake during the procedure and can pass your time watching TV, listening to the radio, or engaging in light conversation. Of course, you are also welcome to take a relaxing nap and get up to eat or go to the bathroom, if needed. You will have a dressing in the surgical area to keep it protected, and the doctor will walk you through all post-operative instructions. Please arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home, as you will b given medications that, while safe, may impair your ability to drive. As a matter of course – and because we value your company so much – we generally arrange for a brief check-up after a couple of days spent healing.
What is the downtime after a hair transplant procedure?
You should not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. As a general rule, one should also avoid exercising or engaging in strenuous activities for 5 days. FUE patients may go back to work in 1-3 days, while FUT patients should wait 2-6 days. Please note that these are only general guidelines. Every person heals at a different pace, and some occupations demand more physical activity than others. After the first 1-2 postoperative days, most patients find that they no longer require pain medications.
How many surgeries will I need?
The number of the sessions will depend on several factors, including:
a. The area of the scalp treated
b. The number and size of grafts used
c. The patient’s desired density of hair
d. The hair’s physical characteristics, e.g. coarse hair will provide a denser, more full-bodied look than fine hair
In summary, the number of sessions varies between individuals. We can arrive at an estimate during your in-person consultation.
Am I too old or too young for an FUE procedure?
No you are not. Age is not an issue for FUE, if hair transplant is indicated in your case.
May I have FUE and FUT in the same sessions?
Yes, especially when the donor area is limited in the back or sides of your head and we need to harvest follicles from other areas, such as beard, for optimal results. You may need more then one session to achieve optimal, realistic results.
For more information, please contact our office for a confidential consultation.