Since ages, man is conscious about his hair. And if it starts falling, nothing frightens him more. Fortunately, today there are advanced methods whereby we can get back our lost hair and be saved from being ridiculed as “baldy”. One such fantastic method is FUE, i.e. Follicular Unit Extraction. This is a hair transplant surgery which involves extraction or “harvesting” of donor hair in a follicular unit. This surgery is characterized by the use of a special device to create a small round cut in the skin surrounding a follicular unit, disconnecting it from the rest of the tissue. Further, the unit is extracted from the scalp, so that a small open hole is created there. This is continued till the surgeon collects enough follicular units for the intended hair restoration. The extraction process can take one hour or even more. If large sessions are involved, the process can go on even for two days. The wounds of the donor are around 1 mm in size and they heal completely within 7 to 10 days, and only small white scars are left behind, buried in the scalp on the sides and in the back of the scalp.
This very process of extraction of follicular units one-by-one straight from the scalp makes the FUE hair transplant technique differ from the conventional FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant) method wherein the donor hair is extracted from the scalp in the form of a single, long, thin strip and then cut into individual follicular units with the help of a stereo-microscope.
FUE method also involves one more procedure. Before the grafts are extracted, the surgeon makes small “recipient sites” in the scalp’s balding area with the help of a needle-like device. Then, the follicular units are placed onto the recipient sites where they can develop into hair-producing follicles. Here there is one similarity between FUE and FUT methods – creating recipient sites and implanting follicular units on them. The difference is in how the donor area looks and the quality and quantity of grafts gained with using each of the methods.
Equipment Involved in FUE
FUE is an equipment-dependent procedure. So, the kind of equipment used for it affects its results considerably. Actually, continuous development resulting in increasingly better equipment for FUE has taken place alongside the evolution and advancements in the procedure itself.
The FUE method was started by Bernstein Medical – Center of Hair Restoration in 2011 in which they used ARTAS® robotic system, which was developed by Restoration Robotics with the purpose of extracting follicular unit grafts.
Robotic hair transplantation is a remarkable advancement in the FUE technology. In Robotic FUE, extraction of follicular units is automated by the ARTA® System, allowing the FUE to be done with an unmatched accuracy. The plus points of FUE against the conventional hair transplants are, creating no linear scar in the donor area and also not posing any post-operative restrictions on physical activity.
Origin of FUE
The concept of extracting follicular unit grafts directly from the donor area was first proposed and used in Australia by Dr. Woods who named the method as “Woods Technique”. But he kept the details of the procedure a secret. Further in the “Follicular Unit Extraction Minimally Invasive Surgery for Hair Transplantation” published in 2002, doctors, Bernstein and Rassman disclosed the technique. Their paper gave the technique its present name. Further, Dr. Jim Harris added one more step to the technique of blunt dissection which reduced the damage (transaction) to follicles considerably.
FUE continues to advance as more and more surgeons learn about it, gain experience while performing it and make improvements in the technique.
Who can Choose FUE?
FUE doesn’t leave a linear scar and so, patients who wish to wear their hair short can choose FUE. Also those who are engaged in extremely exhausting activities like athletes, can go for FUE because they can immediately resume to the activities after the procedure.
FUE is also useful for those who have a very tight scalp or have poorly healed from the traditional strip harvesting method.
FUE method also facilitates removing hair from other parts of the body besides the donor scalp, like trunk or beard, though this technique has many limitations.
As FUE harvesting needs a much bigger area in comparison to strip harvesting (around 5 times the area for the same quantity of grafts) so as to perform big sessions of FUE, the whole donor area should be shaved. This can cause a short-term, yet significant aesthetic issue for several patients. On the contrary, in FUT with strip harvesting, it’s possible to cover the donor incision with hair – even if sessions are lengthy.
Since FUE doesn’t involve a linear incision, patients can get back to strenuous activities if they want to and get engaged in sports much sooner.
FUE or FUT
When a person wants to get hair transplant done s/he is often confused whether to do FUE or FUT. These two methods are compared as if they are entirely different from each other, or even considered as rivaling hair transplant techniques. This is a misconception. They are not totally different. However, there is a difference between them and it is the method by which the follicular units are harvested from the donor area from the sides and back of the head. But all the other parts of the procedures are the same.
However, the difference in the extracting method has an important influence upon the decision of choosing between the methods because it has an effect on the total quantity of high quality grafts that can be extracted from the donor area and eventually, the fullness accomplished from the procedure. Generally, the extracting method of FUT through strip is considered to be superior to that used in FUE for two major reasons. Firstly, FUT technique enables the surgeon to create the highest quality grafts by segregating the follicle units with least trauma (this drawback can be minimized in FUE with Robotic FUE). Secondly, FUT also allows the surgeon to utilize the parts of the donor area to their best.
So, while choosing between FUE and FUT, pros and cons of both techniques should be weighed and then decision should be taken.
To find out more about the FUE method, visit the following links: