What is follicular unit extraction?

Follicular unit extraction, or FUE, is the Gold Standard in hair loss treatment. Follicular unit extraction is a type of hair transplant that involves taking individual hair follicles from one area of your scalp and moving them to another. Specifically, it involves the transfer of the hair follicles from the side and back of the head to the top of the head where balding occurs. First, you will be asked to get a buzz cut two days before your procedure so that the hair is only 4mm in height. On the day of surgery, your head will be washed. The individual hair follicles will then be harvested from the hair-bearing scalp individually. These hair follicles will then be examined under the microscope to ensure that the hair follicles have not been injured during the harvesting process. Next, they will be neatly arranged on a sterile tray that is cooled to keep the hair follicles’ metabolic rate low while they are out of your body. Finally, your FUE surgeon will gently replace the single unit follicles into small incisions made over your hair loss areas. Patients considering FUE should consider the amount of hair already lost and the amount of healthy hair that is left. In order to optimize hair transplantation, the patient needs healthy hair follicle donor sites to populate the balding regions of the scalp. What makes FUE special, is twofold. First, the donor area, where the follicles are harvested from, does not have any scarring. The second advantage of FUE is that the recipient site looks completely natural in appearance. This is because the hair follicles are inserted as single units making it look as if nothing was ever done. This is in contrast to the traditional hair transplant method called follicular unit transplantation (FUT). FUT is similar to FUE with exception of the harvesting stage which requires excision of a segment of scalp skin. Unfortunately, this results in a prominent scar along the back of your head.

The biggest concern for patients desiring hair transplantation is how natural the results will look. There are many factors that affect the outcome of FUE hair transplant, but like any other procedure the skill of the surgeon has a huge impact. Our surgeon, Dr. Chris Varona, is considered a master hair restoration surgeon. As a master surgeon, you must have a knack for understand follicular unit density, follicular unit location, direction of implantation and overall aesthetic of the hairline. Preoperative planning also plays a role in the outcome of the surgery. Hair restoration surgery is performed over the entire day due to the need to meticulously harvest, process, and replace anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 hair follicles. You will be awake but comfortable throughout this special day. Recovery is incredible fast compared to other surgical procedures. The incisions will heal quickly and there are no stitches to remove. Patients can expect hair growth around three to four months following surgery. A full head of hair will be apparent at one year following surgery. 

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