What is a Follicular Unit Extraction?A follicular unit extraction (FUE), also known as follicular transfer (FT), is one of the two types of hair transplant procedures that help in growth of naturally transplanted hair. A follicular unit is comprised of 1-4 strong hair that grow in a group together along with the oil glands and their base muscles that surround each follicular unit. Follicular unit extraction is one of the main methods to obtain hair for transferring through the follicular unit transplant (FUT).
What happens in a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?A follicular unit is comprised of 1-4 fully grown hair along with the oil (sebaceous) glands, nerves, small muscles and vellus (fine) hairs. These follicular units are well-formed structures of the scalp and each follicular unit is surrounded by an area filed with collagen. The decrease in the follicular unit’s quality results in the follicular units producing thinner and weak hair that eventually fall off and cause balding. FUE is a stitch-free method of hair transplantation in which the back of the head is the area from which full-grown hair follicles are extracted intact using stereo microscope and a special surgical tool known as a micro-punch. These extracted follicular units are then transplanted in the bald area. The procedure starts with the surgeon administering local anesthesia to the back of the head to numb the area. The surgeon then uses the micro-punch to scour each individual follicular unit in the harvest area (back of the head). The loosened follicular units are then extracted gently with the help of forceps and placed in a saline solution for sterility. The surgeon is very careful while using the micro-punch to perform the loosening of the follicular units as a too deep punch in the scalp can damage the hair roots and render the unit useless. To avoid this surgeon will place the micro-punch aligned with the direction of the hair shaft. Then these loosened units are extracted gently with forceps with the subcutaneous connections intact. There have been further advances in the follicular unit extraction techniques that facilitate easier and more efficient hair extraction. These are:
Follicular isolation techniqueA follicular isolation technique (FIT) uses a micro-punch which has a preset limit of penetration in the scalp to avoid damage to the hair root.
Automated FUE hair transplantationThe FUE Matic machine is a surgical toll that assists the surgeon in performing hair transplant with the use of the FUE method. This is supposedly a faster way to extract grafts from the patient’s scalp. However, due to lack of human control in this process it has the risk of damaging the hair follicular units.
Robotic hair transplantationThe robotic method of hair extraction has been found to be more precise and efficient in performing the transplant tasks. The robot can perform precision tasks at a higher speed and for a longer period of time too.
What are the advantages of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?There are a number of benefits and advantages in a follicular unit extraction (FUE) process, such as:
- Less manpower required
- Less traumatic
- Minimal graft preparation
- Less number of equipment needed
- Patient can have shorter hair
- Post-operation recovery is shorter
- Scars are almost invisible
- No follow up visit required
- Body hair can be used to increase hair density
Are there limitations to a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure?There are certain limitations to a follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedure, such as:
- It is a tedious procedure that takes quite a long time and often requires the surgeon to take short breaks in between.
- Extensive experience is required to perform this method efficiently and successfully.
- There is a higher chance of the hair follicles and the hair roots getting damaged due to inadequate or improper use of the micro-punch.
- Extraction of the follicle unit with the forceps has to be very precise and can become time consuming.