Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
Follicular unit extraction, otherwise known as FUE is a method of hair restoration surgery where the surgeon will remove a small round graft including the hair follicles and then transplant the grafts into one of the balding areas of the patients head. To understand the concept of density, one must have some basic knowledge of the scalp. In a human scalp, the average density of hair is around 100 – 125 follicular units in a square centimeter (cm2). Since each follicular unit varies in the number of hairs, studies have shown that about 160 – 250 hairs are present per cm2. When an individual starts to notice their hair loss, they have lost approximately 50% of their hair in that given area. Each graft can contain 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or even 6 hairs providing the patient has the available donor hair. Single and 2 hair grafts are utilized in the front hairline with which to create a soft, natural appearance. We locate and utilize many of the bigger grafts to ‘implant’ behind the front hairline so that we can ensure the patient receives the highest density and volume possible. Fortunately, in order to achieve a cosmetically excellent result, surgeons don’t need to transplant hair at fully natural densities, but they need to be able to transplant the grafts in a high enough density to appear as full as aesthetically possible.
How FUE Hair Transplants Work
In brief, the process of follicular unit extraction is relatively simple. Firstly the surgeon must locate the best donor grafts available and then remove the chosen grafts to extract those with the highest hair content available. The surgeon will then meticulously separate each graft ready to be transplanted.
How is the treatment done?
The treatment includes the following steps:
- The initial step includes obtaining hair follicles from the back of the hair and relocating them on the hairless area.
- Prior to the surgery, the donor area is trimmed.
- Once the hair present in the donor site are trimmed, local anesthesia is applied.
- Thereafter the tissues containing the bald resistant hair follicles are surgically removed from the donor area.
- The donor area is sutured. These stitches are removed approximately ten days after the surgery.
- The surgeon then dissects the donor tissue by viewing it through high powered microscopes. Accordingly they prepare the hair grafts.
- The recipient site is then prepared with the help of local anesthesia. Trimming or removal of hair is not required to be performed at the recipient area.
- Tiny incisions are made in the recipient area following an irregular pattern. Thereafter the follicular unit grafts are planted in these incisions.
- The smaller follicular unit grafts are planted in the frontal part of the hairline and the denser one are planted behind.
- Post the surgery, the incision marks heal on their own and you would see short hair in that operated area. The redness of the recipient area also disappears within few days.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
A person who is suffering from baldness or hair thinning can opt for this treatment after considering the following criteria –
- The person should have sufficient donor hair.
- A person who follows a healthy lifestyle so that the immune system is in good condition.
- In case the person suffers from a chronic disease like diabetes, etc. he/she may or may not be eligible for hair transplant. Therefore it’s wise to discuss the matter with the surgeon.
A successful hair transplant depends upon many factors, and one of the most important qualities of a cosmetically beneficial transplant is the ability to achieve adequate follicular unit density with a procedure. In patients who have a sufficient amount of donor hair, follicular unit grafts can be transplanted utilizing high density graft placement techniques, and the end results are more natural and virtually undetectable than less dense procedures.
The density of patient’s hair is determined to a large extent by the following factors: