Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant Advantages
Follicular unit extraction (FUE), also known as follicular transfer (FT), is one of two primary methods of obtaining hair follicles, naturally occurring groups of one to four hairs, for hair transplantation. The other method is called strip harvesting.
The survival of follicular units upon extraction from the scalp is one of the key variables of successful hair transplantation. If follicular units are transected in the extraction process, there is a greater likelihood that they will not survive the transplant, and the hair transplant will fail. While FUT procedures using strip-harvesting of follicular units typically guarantees a large number of non-transected follicular units, FUE procedures can, and often do, transect grafts, rendering them useless in a transplant.
ADVANTAGES OF FUE
- It needs less manpower than FUT; One doctor with one or two assistants can run a centre.
- The procedure is less traumatic and surgical experience is not essential.
- Graft preparation is minimal.
- Less equipment is needed.
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Comparison of FUT strip method and FUE
|Pain after the procedure||Minor||None|
|Percent of time the doctor operates on the patient||10–30%||80–90%|
|Extensive bleeding during or after the procedure||May occur||No|
|Wearing hairstyle short in the donor area||Not possible||Possible|
|Nerve damage, numbness, permanent pain||Possibly||No|
|Healing time: donor area||2-3 weeks||Approx. 7 days|
|Healing time: recipient area||Approx. 14 days||10–14 days|
|Transection rate (grafts damaged during extraction)||Varies 1–2%||5–10%|
|Recovery time needed before exercise is possible||2–3 weeks||1–2 weeks|
|Amount of time after which patient may return to work||The day after||Usually the day after|
|Visible scarring with short hair at back||May be present||Microscopic scars|
|Reactions to suture materials||Seen rarely||Never a problem|
|Shaving of head||not needed||needed|
FUE is an exciting advancement that propels the field of hair transplant surgery one step closer to the elite minimally invasive status. The promise of an almost scarless surgery is enticing to both patient and the surgeon. The reasons for selecting FUE rather than a strip harvest may be the avoidance of a linear scar, the desire for a naturally pain free post-op period or simply the idea of having a minimally invasive procedure.
The technique can serve as an important alternative to traditional hair transplantation in certain selected patients. More research is needed to render the procedure faster, cut short the surgery time and improve the transection rates, so that it can be adopted in greater number of patients.
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