Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular unit extraction, or FUE, is one of two forms of donor harvesting that is used during a hair transplant surgery. Whereas the standard method involves taking an ellipse of skin from a donor site, then dissecting that donor tissue under a microscope, FUE is different. If you have had little to no success with other hair loss treatments, or if your hair loss is caused by something other than typical male- or female-pattern baldness, follicular unit extraction may be your best option.
How Follicular Unit Extraction Works
Follicular unit extraction, just as its name would imply, involves extracting individual donor hair follicles from locations of good growth across the patient’s scalp, then implanting those follicles on areas of the scalp that are experiencing the most significant hair loss. Rather than using a scalpel to extract a long piece of tissue from which follicles are dissected, the surgeon will instead use a very specialized finely motorized tool – much like a tiny punch – to extract individual follicles. The entire process is minimally invasive because it does not require stitches and there is no linear scarring. The tiny incisions left by the punch will heal on their own without sutures.
FUE vs. Standard Hair Grafting
Although FUE is less invasive, the more traditional form of hair grafting is still considered the gold standard by many surgeons who specialize in hair transplant procedures. That’s because it provides the highest yield of hair of the two surgeries. If you are interested in maximum fullness, then you will want to consider traditional hair grafting rather than FUE.
On the other hand, if your hair is noticeably thinning but you have not yet begun to show significant balding, FUE may be the better choice. Your surgeon can simply transplant follicles from a donor area to the recipient area to add bulk, and since there are no sutures, there is no noticeable linear scarring. FUE also has a shorter recovery time. Finally, if you are having transplant surgery due to a wide scar, or if you have significant looseness of the scalp, a standard strip excision may not be possible and FUE is a solid alternative in this case. FUE is especially effective in eyebrow hair density loss.
What to Expect During and After FUE
During the procedure, the doctor will use a small finely motorized handheld tool, much like a punch, to single out and remove individual hair follicles from a donor area on the scalp or elsewhere on the body – usually an area with the most hair density. Then, each individual follicular unit is then implanted into the recipient area, or the area where the hair has begun to thin the most. You will receive a local anesthetic to prevent pain and discomfort, and the procedure can last anywhere from an hour to a few hours. You can go home the same day, and your surgeon will provide you with aftercare instructions based on your unique needs.
Much like with standard grafting, the transplanted follicles may remain dormant for two or three months after the transplant. Most patients will see maximum new growth in about 6 – 12 months following the procedure; men and women who have longer hair may find that it takes longer for their transplanted hair to catch up.
To learn more about follicular unit extraction and to find out whether you are a candidate, schedule a consultation with the team at Mardirossian Facial Aesthetics. You can also learn more about other hair restoration treatment options, including solutions like minoxidil, medications like finasteride, therapies with low-level laser therapy or platelet-rich plasma, and even traditional hair grafting surgery.