What is FUE?
Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a hair transplant technique where natural groups of 1 to 4 hairs (follicular units) are individually extracted from donor areas, such as the back or sides of the scalp, chest, or back, and transplanted to an area affected by hair loss. The FUE technique allows harvesting of individual follicular units while ensuring minimal damage to the surrounding tissues. When implemented by a doctor with superior surgical skills and a high level of aesthetic perception, FUE can achieve a refined and undetectable aesthetic outcome.
Who is a Good Candidate for FUE?
You are a good candidate for FUE if you meet the following criteria:
- You should be in the age group of 25 to 65.
- You should generally have good health and a good immune system which helps reduce the risk of complications and promotes recovery and healing.
- You should not have extensive hair loss. The best candidates for FUE are those who suffer from male or female pattern baldness. Your doctor will look for healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head that normally serves as donor sites.
- The thicker your hair is, the better coverage it will provide for the affected areas.
- Those who maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising regularly, and effectively managing stress make better candidates.
- You should have an ideal “FOX grade” which determines the ease with which follicular units can be extracted.
- You should have realistic expectations from the FUE treatment.
Who is Not a Good Candidate for FUE?
You are not a good candidate for FUE if you have the following:
- Extensive hair loss and/or lack of a donor area
- Long-term health conditions
- Curly hair
- Unrealistic expectations
- Cannot tolerate long or multiple sessions
Preparation for the FUE Procedure
The preparation for FUE involves the following steps:
- Do not take aspirin or any anti-inflammatory drugs for at least 2 weeks prior to the procedure as they increase the risk of bleeding.
- Do not take any blood thinners, beta-blockers, antidepressants, etc., for at least 2 weeks prior to the procedure.
- Do not take any multivitamins, supplements, or herbal products at least 2 weeks prior to the procedure as they increase the risk of bleeding.
- Refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages at least a week prior to the procedure.
- Refrain from smoking at least 24 hours prior to the procedure as tobacco products slow down healing.
- Take a shower on the morning of your procedure, wash your hair with shampoo, rinse thoroughly and then dry. Do not apply any gel or spray to the hair.
- Have a light snack on the morning of your procedure, but refrain from caffeinated drinks.
- A written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical process has been explained in detail.
Procedure for FUE
FUE is a painless procedure performed under local anesthesia. You will be awake and able to watch TV or talk to your doctor during the procedure. It involves the following steps:
- The boundaries of the donor area are marked and local anesthesia is injected.
- With a surgical punch 0.7 mm to 0.8 mm in diameter, your doctor extracts follicular units one by one. Each follicular unit contains 1-4 hairs surrounded by soft tissue.
- The extracted follicular units are preserved in saline solution and processed under the microscope. This involves the removal of excess tissue from the units and assorting them according to the number of hairs.
- With the follicular units ready, your doctor marks the recipient area (bald area) and designs a natural hairline for implantation of the follicular units.
- The recipient area is anesthetized and several micro-incisions are made using a specially shaped micro-needle. The follicular grafts are then placed into these incisions.
- Your doctor examines the recipient area to ensure that all the follicular units are correctly placed into the sites and concludes the procedure.
PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) is typically used in hair transplant procedures after the transplantation of hair follicles. PRP is prepared by taking a sample of a patient's own blood, processing it to concentrate the platelets and growth factors, and then injecting it into the scalp.
By injecting PRP into the scalp, the growth factors can help to increase blood flow to the transplanted hair follicles, enhance the healing process, and improve the survival of the transplanted follicles.
The timing and frequency of PRP injections depend on the individual patient's needs and the surgeon's recommendations.
Postoperative Care and Instructions
To ensure the best results from the FUE procedure, you need to diligently follow the postoperative instructions provided by your doctor. These instructions include:
- You may notice some mild soreness, swelling, or pain. Medications, such as a mild steroid to control swelling, a painkiller, and an antibiotic to prevent infection are prescribed.
- You will notice some redness in the donor and recipient area which will slowly heal on its own in a couple of days.
- You may receive special hair wash instructions and shampoo recommendations which should be followed for a couple of weeks to facilitate the healing process.
- Touching and excessive sweating from the operated areas can lead to complications, so avoid strenuous activities for the first couple of days.
- Strictly adhere to scheduled follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.
Advantages of FUE
Some of the advantages of FUE hair transplant procedure include:
- Less traumatic procedure
- Minimal graft preparation required
- Almost invisible microscopic scars in the donor area
- Enables use of body hair for added density
- Minimal to no bleeding during or after the procedure
- Minimal postoperative recovery time
- No stitches required