FUE is a different hair transplant technique from the classic strip procedure. It doesn’t involve the removal of a strip from the back of the scalp; instead, it leaves small punctiform scars on the scalp.
These scars are less than a millimeter in diameter and can be covered by your hair.
What is FUE Hair Transplantation?
FUE hair transplants are one of the most popular methods for regrowing lost or thinning hair. They involve removing individual hairs from the back of your head and implanting them into areas where you have less or no growth. This method often fills the hairline, adds volume and coverage, or creates a more natural-looking eyebrow shape.
Unlike the strip excision method (FUT), which requires a large strip of skin to be removed from the back of your head, FUE extracts the hair follicles individually. This leaves a much smaller and less noticeable scar on the back of your scalp.
Doctors can use either a parallel or lateral incision to extract the follicles. This allows them to mimic how your hair grows naturally using a more accurate implantation angle. This gives the hair transplant a more natural appearance, which is why it is so popular.
What is the Donor Site?
When performing a follicular unit extraction hair transplant, doctors harvest individual hair follicles, usually 1-4 in groups, from the back of your scalp. These follicles are then moved to the areas of your head with thinner hair or balding.
FUE leaves tiny scars on the scalp, typically less than one millimeter in diameter. These scars are invisible with short haircuts and may fade over time.
Hair from any area of the body except the scalp cannot be used in a hair transplant because it doesn’t have the same look or texture as scalp hair. However, there are occasions when body hair is used to fill bald spots or increase density in the head. It is also sometimes used in patients with widened scars from previous strip excision procedures.
What is the Recipient Site?
The surgeon will shave the back of your head, where follicular units will be extracted, and make tiny incisions around each follicular unit (usually consisting of one, two, three, or four hair follicles). They’ll then use a micro punch tool to extract a follicular unit from your scalp.
Once the follicular unit has been removed, it will be placed in the balding or recipient area of your scalp. Once the follicle is in place, it will grow new hair.
FUE does not leave any noticeable scarring on the donor site, so keep your hair short or shave it completely. However, your results’ quality depends on how well the surgeon performs. It would help if you continually asked to see a surgeon’s previous work before the procedure.
How Many Grafts Are Needed?
Hair transplant surgeons should only extract enough grafts to satisfy cosmetic needs in one procedure. Some patients will only require a few hundred grafts, while others may require thousands. This is because your hair follicles will only grow to their fullest potential for about three years and then begin to shrink.
The safe donor area decreases as you age, making it more difficult to perform many grafts in one session. Therefore, being wary of clinics that quote you many grafts in one procedure is essential.
Some use the systems to complete FUE hair transplants. Both are incredibly precise, reducing the chances of overharvesting your hair follicles.
How Long Will the Recovery Be?
The surgeon shaves the back of your head and then uses small punches to remove healthy hair follicles from the scalp. They will then implant the grafts where you want your hair to grow.
Unlike the classic technique, which involves a long incision across the back of your head, this procedure leaves no noticeable linear scar. Instead, you will have many tiny, circular spots virtually undetectable with short hair or a shaved head.
There is also no need to use sutures or staples, saving you time and money during the recovery process. You may experience some ooze at the donor site, but it will only last a few days until your skin forms scabs. Itching is standard, but you should resist scratching the area so it heals properly.
What is the Cost?
The cost of an FUE hair transplant can vary depending on the number of grafts being relocated. You’ll need to factor in the price of the grafts and medications and time off work for recovery (typically three days).
The surgeon will first shave the area on the back of your scalp where hair will be removed. Then, they’ll make small holes in the skin with a needle or tool varying in size from 0.7 mm to 1,1mm.
This allows them to extract follicular units, which can be placed in the areas of your head where you have thin or balding spots. Using FUE also means you won’t experience scarring in the donor site like other surgeries. Instead, you’ll see tiny white dots that eventually fade.
What is the Recovery Time?
With new advanced instruments and techniques, FUE hair transplants are virtually pain-free. They also involve no damage to pre-existing hair and are very fast to recover from.
In the first week or two after a procedure, you’ll notice significant adverse effects such as soreness and swelling, but they should subside within a few days. After this time, you’ll be able to dress the transplant area as you see fit, and most people go back to work immediately if their profession does not require heavy lifting.
The surgeon uses a sharp punch to score the epidermis, then uses the dull side of the point to dissect the follicular unit (or graft) from the surrounding skin. This prevents the follicle from becoming damaged and allows it to be removed intact.