What is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?
Follicular Unit Extraction hair transplantation or FUE, is the most advanced and sophisticated hair transplant surgery known. In FUE follicles containing 1-4 hairs are removed individually from the donor site (usually on the sides and back of the head, chest and back) and artfully transplanted into thinning or balding areas on the head. The individual extraction of the donor-hair ensures minimal risk of skin scarring as compared to the old strip-surgery method.
What is the difference between Strip and FUE hair transplant surgery?
The only difference in the 2 treatments is the way in which the hair is extracted from the back of the scalp. The implantation process is the same. Strip procedure requires the harvesting of a strip of scalp from the donor area. The strip is only 1 millimetre in diameter and is removed using a small scalpel. The strip is placed under a microscope and divided into grafts containing 1 or 2 hairs. Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a process that utilises a small punch tool that removes hairs from the donor sites. The tool removes grafts that contain either 1 or 2 hairs. FUE procedures use a much larger donor area than strip procedures. The punch tool will likely be used across a large area of the scalp to extract healthy hairs. Both procedures insert 1 or 2 hairs at a time into tiny incisions. Some patients find that the incision sites for strip procedures are somewhat larger and more noticeable than that of FUE procedures. Both procedures require incisions that are less than 1 millimetre in diameter.
Are all patients suitable for FUE?
In our experience nearly, all patients are suitable for FUE hair transplantation. Some surgeons doing strip and FUE may try to push the strip saying that the patient is not suitable for FUE. This may reflect the surgeons lack of interest in and experience with FUE rather than a true reflection of the suitability of the patient for a FUE procedure.
Is Follicular Unit Transplantation permanent?
Transplanted hair behaves in a similar way to the hair where it was taken from. It will last a lifetime for most people or at least into old age when the procedure is done correctly. British Hair clinic surgical team simply re-distribute existing permanent hair to your thin areas.
Why am I losing my hair?
Male pattern baldness, the most common cause of hair loss in men, is caused a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which shrinks the hair follicles located on the top of the head and causes the common hair loss patterns. There are however other causes for hair loss which our trained consultants will easily identify during your free one on one consultation.
Is it going to hurt?
The majority of the patients are comfortable both during and after hair transplant surgery done by the Follicular Unit Extraction-method. When administering the local anaesthetics patient will experience discomfort/pain. Once the medicine starts to work the patient does not feel any pain. Post-operative pain is less and the recovery much faster than strip-surgery. Pain medications to use at home are prescribed by the surgeon.
Will I have scars?
The art of a hair transplant is to conceal the scars. When performed by skilled surgeons, Follicular Unit Hair Transplants will only be detected by thorough examination. The donor site however will have a very fine scar completely hidden by your hair. The technique of trichophytic closure is now rendering donor scars extremely difficult to detect even with no covering hair. Having said that, we always recommend growing the hair at the back of the head to help conceal the area. Patients should refrain from shaving the back of the head because healing and scarring can vary from person to person.
Will I need time off work after my surgery?
This depends on your type of work. If you don’t have a physical or strenuous job, medically you can generally go back to work after just a couple of days, otherwise return after 7 days. The other consideration is from a cosmetic view. If you do not have sufficient hair to cover the donor site or if you are very concerned about anyone knowing, then it’s probably best to have your surgery just before a week’s holiday or so. You will be able to wear a hat immediately after surgery. The sun will not damage your grafts, but as your scalp will still be numb you need to wear a hat to avoid sunburn to your scalp.
Will my hair transplantation look natural?
Any recently performed hair transplant should give a natural and in most cases an undetectable look from the front. The lateral slit is an important part creating a natural result. However, it may be mentioned that even if the surgeon is experienced, a limited number of patients may experience poor hair growth due to inherent circulation problems, diet and lifestyle factors affecting re-growth and not necessarily due to the implantation techniques. From the back a strip-transplant will leave a linear scar which in some cases can be rather visible and disturbing. FUE procedure significantly reduces the risk of visible scarring.
Are there any risk of infection with hair transplant surgery?
With any breach of the skin the risk of an infection does exist, however small it may be. Post-operative infection is very rare. In the rare event of an infection, it is usually treatable with antibiotics.
When will I see growth from my hair transplant?
This can differ from patient to patient but it is common for the ‘bulb’ of each transplanted follicle to go into a dormant phase for around 12 weeks before it starts to grow. Within 6 months you will see around an inch of healthy growth throughout the transplanted area.
Will I regain a full head of hair?
We are only redistributing your existing permanent hair to your thin or bald areas. We are not creating new hair. Having said that, in expert hands the limited donor hair available can be used to create the illusion of a lot more hair in people with significant hair loss. In extensive baldness, the most important achievement will be to restore frontal scalp hair and the hairline to create a frame around the face. This will improve how you look to yourself and to others.
Is age important and what is the perfect age for a hair transplantation?
Technically a hair transplantation can be performed at any age. The patient’s age is a vital factor to be considered, though. Preferably the patient should be at least 30 years of age. Under certain circumstances younger patients may be considered.
Can the procedure be repeated?
Yes. With FUE there is no linear scaring and the donor-area is essentially left intact. The procedure can be repeated and up to 40-50 percent of the hairs can be removed without noticeable thinning in the donor-area. Other hair transplant methods, including strip-surgery, will usually leave visible scarring in the donor-area and with each operation the risk of serious problems with the operation increases.
What are the side effects?
FUE hair restoration is a very gentle procedure that minimizes the trauma to the scalp and thereby reduces the risk of any serious complications or side effect, including scarring, prolonged pain or numbness, to a minimum. However, medicine
is not a precise science with a 100% predictable outcome. The following problems have been brought to our attention.
- Swelling, mostly mild to moderate. Disappears in few days.
- Growth issues. A very small percentage of patients have expressed partial dissatisfaction with the growth. This can be due to actual low growth, but may also be due to mistaking the progressive nature of hair loss as low yield
- Furthermore, unrealistic expectations and other factors may also play a role.
Direction of grafts
Around 1 % of the patients complain of hair growth in wrong directions of few the transplanted grafts. In majority of these patients the problem has been rectified by our skilled surgical team – free of charge, of course.