Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
With Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE harvesting, individual follicular units containing 1 to 4 hairs are removed under local anesthesia; this micro removal typically uses tiny punches of between 0.6mm and 1.0mm in diameter. The surgeon then uses very small micro blades or fine needles to puncture the sites for receiving the grafts, placing them in a predetermined density and pattern, and angling the wounds in a consistent fashion to promote a realistic hair pattern. The technicians generally do the final part of the procedure, inserting the individual grafts in place.
FUE takes place in a single long session or multiple small sessions. The FUE procedure or hair transplant is more time consuming than strip surgery. An FUE surgery time varies according to the surgeon’s experience, speed in harvesting and patient characteristics. The procedure can take anywhere from a couple hours to extract 200 grafts for a scar correction to a surgery over two consecutive days for a mega session of 2,500 to 3,000 grafts. With the FUE hair transplant procedure there are restrictions on patient candidacy. Clients are selected for FUE based on a fox test, though there is some debate about the usefulness of this in screening clients for FUE.
FUE can give very natural results. The advantage over strip harvesting is that FUE harvesting negates the need for large areas of scalp tissue to be harvested, so there is no linear incision on the back of the head and it doesn’t leave a linear scar. Because individual follicles are removed, only small, punctuate scars remain which are virtually not visible and any post-surgical pain and discomfort is minimized. As no suture removal is required, recovery from Micro Grafting FUE is less than 7 days.
Disadvantages include increased surgical times due to the hair transplant surgeon having an abundance of clients and higher cost to the patient. It is challenging for new surgeons because the procedure is physically demanding and the learning curve to acquire the skills necessary is lengthy and tough. Some surgeons note that FUE can lead to a lower ratio of successfully transplanted follicles as compared to strip harvesting.