Loss of hair is not something that is uncommon or unheard of – it is when hair loss goes beyond control and bald patches start to appear that the real worry starts for most people.
If you too are someone who has been bothered by extreme hair loss and are trying to find methods by which you can hide those bald spots, you might want to think of a more permanent option.
These days, hair transplantation has become a lot more accessible and a growing number of people with hair loss issues are opting for the same.
If your hair loss is diffused or the bald patches are not really large, you might be a good candidate for an FUE or follicular unit extraction. However, before you jump up and rush to your nearest hair transplant clinic, there are some things that you need to know about the procedure.
The very first time that the reference of FUE was made was in 1988 – Japanese doctor Masumi Inaba introduced the use of a tiny needle to extract follicular units. However, the very first successful FUE procedure was to come the next year – in 1989, the procedure was conducted successfully by Dr. Ray Woods in Australia.
Initially, the transaction rates were not low enough, because of which this procedure was not considered a good choice for general hair restoration purposes. In 1998, the very same Dr. Woods used the procedure to implant body hair onto the scalp.
A follicular unit is a bunch of one to four hairs, which is normally how hair is present on the scalp.
In FUE, the individual units are extracted and are implanted into the donor area immediately. Unlike the strip surgery or FUT method, in this procedure, there is no piece of the scalp being removed.
Instead, individual follicles are removed, leaving the chances of scarring down to the minimal. The patient is administered local anesthesia or in certain cases, sedation, and then the extraction process is started.
A microsurgical extraction instrument, which has a diameter of 1mm or less is used to extract the follicles. The extracted follicles will be immediately implanted into the recipient area – care will be taken to ensure that the direction is the same as the naturally occurring hair and a perfect density are created.
The time taken for the procedure is dependent on several factors such as the expertise of the surgeon, the size of the donor and recipient areas and the time availability of the patient. While in some cases, the procedure is done in one lengthy session, while in others, there are several shorter sessions.
The number of grafts required will also determine the time taken to complete the procedure.
Because an FUE hair transplant procedure does not require the removal of portions of the scalp, the recovery time is much shorter as compared to a strip surgery. There is also no linear scar in this process – only small puncture scars, which tend to disappear under the new growth of hair.
Average recovery time is less than a week, although certain precautions will have to be taken in the days to come as well.
The success of the transplant is dependent on the survival of the follicular units – if the units have been transacted during the extraction process, the chances of the follicular units not surviving are higher.
The chances of transected follicles are much higher in FUE, which is why the skills of the surgeon are extremely important.
In the hands of a talented surgeon, the transaction rate will be extremely low and that will ensure that the survival rate of the follicular units is higher.
The scarring is more obvious in the strip surgery procedure because a strip of the scalp will be removed and then when that portion of the skin is stitched back, there will be a linear scar. However, in the FUE procedure, because there only micro-punches, the scars are nothing more than tiny puncture marks.
When the procedure has been done properly, these scars will get hidden under the new growth of hair. But if the person chooses to keep a really short cropped hairstyle, chances of the scars being visible are higher.
The comparison with FUT:
- The recovery time is faster with FUE because there are no incisions.
- FUE is the choice when the scalp is too tight for a strip excision.
- FUE allows the surgeon to extract the finer hair on the nape of the neck too.
- The follicular units are removed one at a time, leading to fewer chances of scarring.
- This is a minimally invasive procedure because no strips need to be removed for harvesting.
- Harvesting and implanting is done almost simultaneously, reducing the time the grafts spend outside the body.
- When done by an experienced doctor, the results will be extremely positive – the hairline will look natural and there will be a good amount of density on the scalp.
- If your recipient site is very large, then FUE might not be a good option for you.
- If your procedure has not been done by an experienced surgeon, chances of things going incredibly wrong are very high.
- The doctor also needs to have all the right tools, which many clinics might not have.
- Pre, intra, and post-operative care information needs to be followed very carefully.
- You will need to follow the hair stabilization program prescribed to you, to the T.
- The harvest area is much larger than that in a FUT, which is why a larger area needs to be shaved.
- If the hair has been harvested from the border of the donor area, they might not last as long as other hairs.