Hair transplant techniques have improved massively in recent years, with patients reporting greater satisfaction with their experiences than ever before.
One of the most impressive developments in the field is Follicular Unit Excision, or FUE.
Hair restoration specialists claim it as one of the least invasive and most effective methods of transplant thus far, and clients around the world are lining up for consultations.
With so many people curious about the details of FUE, we’re here to walk you through the entire process, from seeking consult to the procedure itself and beyond.
We hope to answer all the major questions and address the common concerns that surround FUE, and give you the key information you need to make the best choice!
What is FUE?
While “hair transplant” is a broad term for the grafting of follicle units onto the scalp, the harvesting process varies from one technique to the next.
You may be familiar with Follicular Unit Strip Surgery or Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), in which a horizontal strip of hair is removed from the donor area (typically the back of the neck) prior to grafting them to the front.
FUE does things differently. Instead of strip harvesting, surgeons selectively harvest individual units of hair from the donor area and insert them into the recipient area.
FUE has a few key advantages for the client:
- Far less scarring on the donor area.
- No horizontal mark on the back of the neck.
- Less discomfort and pain during the recovery process.
- Faster healing time and quicker return to normal living.
- Higher overall patient satisfaction rate.
Although FUE is not a brand new practice, it is more of a recent development than FUT, so it may be trickier to find a clinic that specializes in the procedure.
Since it is a highly technical surgery, you will want to do a very thorough vetting process to be sure the surgeon is qualified for FUE.
Put in the legwork to look up real reviews, speak with people you know, and study before and after galleries to make sure your clinic and surgeon are up to par for this procedure.
Who is FUE suited for?
The best candidates for any hair transplant will show typical patterns of androgenetic alopecia, usually with an M-shaped receding hairline and thinning on the top rear area of the head.
Since FUE surgeons are highly skilled at harvesting donor hair from other areas of the scalp, it is not that important that a client has consistent hair growth on the back of the neck. Many FUE experts can extract quality donor hair from the side of the head, as well as other parts of the body if necessary.
As mentioned, FUE is primarily meant for clients who want to wear their hair short in the back and do not want to show a horizontal scar from the donor area.
This is a more discrete operation that heals more easily and evenly than traditional strip harvesting. The best doctors in the world leave barely any trace of activity on the neck.
There are a few downsides to FUE, however, that should be noted.
Firstly, FUE is a more expensive treatment than standard strip harvest procedures. Clients can expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars more for this top service.
FUE procedures are also thought to have a slightly higher transection rate than other techniques. This means that follicles are more likely to be accidentally damaged during the harvesting process, resulting in an ineffective graft on the recipient area.
Transection in FUE is more common due to the process of targeted follicle harvesting, and the precise technique required to extract each individual hair safely.
While the best surgeons in the world have transection rates below 5%, it’s still a drawback for some clients who want to absolutely maximize their grafting results, even if it means more scarring in the donor area. This is the main tradeoff you must consider.
Clients must also account for the slightly shorter lifespan of hair grafts extracted via FUE. While the difference from FUT is not major, it is true that FUE grafts do not last quite as long as those taken from strip harvesting.
This could mean that an FUE patient may have to return to the clinic at some point down the line to undergo repeat surgeries, which some clients are not willing to do.
The use of medication such as Finasteride and Minoxidil has been proven to help extend the life of FUE grafts, so this type of treatment should be discussed in the consultation.
Detailing the Process
The FUE surgery process can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on the number of follicle units to be transplanted.
The back of the neck is shaved, allowing the surgeon easy access to the root of the follicle unit. Each hair is carefully extracted and placed into a tiny incision in the front of the head.
Again, while the extraction method is unique from FUE and FUT, the grafting method is exactly the same.
Patients only need a minor local anesthetic to withstand the discomfort of FUE, and the process is not strenuous by any means.
The world’s best clinics will create a calming, low-pressure environment for the patient to feel comfortable, and allow for occasional breaks throughout the surgery to regroup.
Granted the patient is feeling alert and aware, they can typically drive themselves home that same day to transition to the recovery process.
A Smooth Recovery from FUE
Recovery from FUE is considered easier than other hair transplant techniques due to the absence of the horizontal scar on the donor area.
FUE patients will find that the discomfort in the donor area disappears in less than a few days, and they don’t have to concern themselves with as much scar aftercare.
In the recipient area, the healing process is nearly identical to that of FUT.
Patients are advised to take a few days off from work to let the body heal naturally, and it’s recommended that they avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for a few weeks after.
While the donor area is less of an issue, FUE patients should be particularly careful about protecting their newly grafted hair as it settled into the recipient area.
The follicles are smaller and more sensitive than those harvested with strip methods, and should be treated with extra sensitivity. Doctors may advise FUE clients on specific bathing routines or other techniques to avoid disrupting the healing process.
As inflammation and scabbing subside, the grafted hair may fall out before growing back once again. This is a totally normal step and nothing to fear.
Within a few months, the patient will return for a followup meeting with the surgeon to ensure that the procedure and recovery went according to plan. From there they can discuss future plans and preventive measures to keep the hair healthy and strong for years to come.
While FUE is by no means a minor procedure, many clients find it to be far more manageable than they anticipate.
With the guidance and support of reputable clinic staff and highly qualified doctors, you can breeze through the process and enjoy transformative results with minimal discomfort and disruption to your life.
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