The biggest concern for most people and predominantly males is hair loss. Hair is an important determinant of physical attractiveness. Male pattern hair loss is the commonest cosmetic ailment for a male which affects his confidence in a big way. Hair loss often affects a person’s self-image, esteem and their quality of life.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a method of extracting, or “harvesting,” donor hair in a follicular unit hair transplant procedure. Here, an instrument is used to make a small, circular incision in the skin around a follicular unit, separating it from the surrounding tissue. The unit is then extracted (pulled) and teased out directly from the scalp, leaving a small open hole. This can be done manually or by using machines which could be termed “robotic” especially when controlled with computer software.
The number of grafts, which has been pre-determined, is harvested, and this process is repeated until we have harvested enough follicular units for the planned hair restoration. This process can take one or more hours. The donor wounds, approximately 1-mm in size, completely heal over the course of seven to ten days, leaving tiny scars buried in the hair in the back and sides of the scalp.
This method of donor harvesting, removing follicular units one-by-one directly from the scalp, is what differentiates this procedure from a traditional Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), where the grafts are removed in a strip fashion and then subsequently dissected into individual follicular units using magnification.
Before the grafts are harvested, tiny “recipient sites” are made in the deficient area of the scalp using a fine needle-point instrument. The follicular units are then placed into the recipient sites where they will grow into healthy hair-producing follicles. The creation of recipient sites and the placing of follicular unit grafts are essentially the same in both FUE and FUT procedures. The difference lies in the appearance of the donor area and in the quality and quantity of grafts obtained with each technique. This procedure is marketed under different names with the basic technique remaining the same.
Indications for FUE
There would be dressing in the donor and recipient area for a day following which the area can be left open. Since FUE harvesting requires a much larger area compared to strip harvesting, the entire donor area must be shaved. This can present a significant short-term cosmetic problem for many patients. In contrast, with FUT using strip harvesting, the donor incision can be covered with hair – even with very large sessions.