What is follicular unit extraction (FUE)
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is another method of obtaining donor hair. After the removal of the hair grafts from the scalp the method of transplantation is identical in both FUT and FUE techniques.
An FUE hair transplant involves the removal of individual follicular units from the donor area on the scalp, one by one, using a blunt-tipped punch tool. This differs from Ultra Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) where a donor strip of skin is taken and the follicular units are dissected from that strip with the aid of a powerful microscope.
The FUE procedure was developed as a result of some patients’ dissatisfaction with the appearance of the donor scar on the back of the head. However, with a proper surgical technique this scar should be virtually invisible.
FUE: What about scarring?
FUE does result in scarring however the circular scars are usually more spread out across a larger area. For some patients that like to wear their hair very short it is a preferable option, FUE scars can be less obvious than the linear scar left from the FUT procedure.
It should be noted that certain advertising by commercial FUE hair clinics has stated that follicular units can be extracted from the scalp with “no stitches, no scars, no pain”. As skin cannot be broken without leaving a scar, however small, this claim is completely false. It should be clearly understood that it is not possible to remove the hair follicle and its root from the scalp without leaving some degree of scarring.
FUT or FUE?
Both FUE and the HRBR FUT techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, some of which are listed below for ease of reading;
- For patients undergoing an FUE procedure usually the entire scalp must be shaved in advance of their procedure, for those undergoing an FUT procedure only the area of hair to be removed is trimmed.
- In an FUE procedure the graft yield is lower than with FUT which means you get less donor hair for transplantation. This is because it is not possible to harvest as much hair.
- In an FUE procedure the growth rate of the grafts is often lower as the accuracy of the punch tool used is not as good as a skilled technician using a microscope.
- A stitch is required in an FUT procedure; in an FUE procedure no stitches are needed.
- For patients that like to wear their hair very short FUE may be the preferable option as the scars resulting from the FUE procedure may be less noticeable in very short hair as they are more spread out.
- Should a patient decide to return for a 2nd or 3rd hair transplant procedure with the FUT technique a skilled surgeon can remove the scar from the patient’s previous surgery however, with the FUE technique this is not possible and new scars will always be created with subsequent surgeries.
Before any patient makes a decision as to what techniques they wish to choose, a consultation with a properly qualified consultant surgeon is essential. For many patients the optimal treatment plan would involve the use of both techniques over the patient’s life and therefore it is important for patients to attend a clinic that can offer both techniques to them.
If you would like to find out more about FUE hair transplants and the hair loss treatment options at HRBR, the first step is to arrange a consultation with one of our doctors. Contact us now.