Today we’ll explore the surgical treatment option called Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE has been a major player in surgical treatment for hair loss since around 2000. In this technique, instead of harvesting a strip of skin rich with hair follicles and then slicing up the strip preparing it for transplant, individual hair follicles are removed from the donor area and transplanted one by one into the receiving area.
The follicular units are extracted using a very small punch-like instrument. There is considerable skill required not only to extract hair follicles without damaging them, but also in transplanting them into the new area where the hair needs to grow in the right direction and look natural.
FUE is a longer procedure than Strip Donor Transplant and tedious for both the physician and the patient. Depending on how many follicles are being transplanted, often several sessions will be required. FUE tends to be more expensive than Strip Donor Transplant because of the time it takes to do and the training and skill required of the physician to use the technique.
Advantages of FUE compared to Strip Donor Transplant
The biggest advantage of FUE over Strip Donor Transplant is the scarring. Since the incisions are tiny and round, the scars are small and barely noticeable in the donor area, contrasting significantly with the linear scars left from Strip Donor Transplant. The difference is scarring should be a major consideration especially if the patient intends to wear a very short hair style.
Disadvantages of FUE compared to Strip Donor Transplant
As mentioned earlier, Strip Donor Transplant is usually an inexpensive option. The overall survival rate of the grafts from FUE is strongly correlated with the skill of the physician, and considerable care should be exercised in choosing the surgeon to perform FUE.
There is also now Robotic FUE available. Although the technology is new, the precision and accuracy available with robotic instruments may turn out to be a significant improvement to what is already a tried and true method.
This concludes Part 6. In Part 7, we will discuss nonsurgical treatment options to help you with hair loss.