FUE – Follicular Unit Extraction
Follicular Unit Extraction, or simply ‘FUE’, is a cosmetic procedure that aims to restore the hair found on a patients head. The underlying procedure involves removing individual hairs one-by-one from the sides and back of the patient’s head, and then implanting them in to the affected areas of hair loss. In most cases, a FUE hair transplant is best suited to those that suffer from male pattern baldness. If you are considering undergoing a FUE hair restoration, or simply want to find out how it works, then we suggest reading our compressive guide.
How FUE Works
FUE hair restoration treatment is a cosmetic procedure than aims to re-stimulate hair growth. Essentially, the process will see a qualified hair specialist remove hair follicular units from the donor site, which is most commonly on the side or back of the head. The reason that the FUE hair transplant procedure stands out is because each individual hair is removed from the donor on a ‘hair-by-hair’ basis. As such, it can only be performed by a highly skilled hair specialist. Once the hair follicles have been collected from the donor part of the head, the specialist will then proceed to implant them in to the area of the scalp that has developed hair loss.
It is hoped that the end product will result in a natural looking hairline, alongside an all-round thicker hair density. The FUE process differs from a FUSS (follicular unit strip surgery) or FUT treatment, insofar that the former removes the hair follicles directly from the scalp through the use of a small punch device. On the contrary, the FUSS method instead removes larger segments of skin tissue from the occipital scalp.
So now that you know the basics of what a FUE hair transplant entails, in the next section we will explore who the treatment is suitable for.
Who is a FUE hair transplant suitable for?
In the vast majority of cases, a FUE hair restoration treatment is suitable for both male and females, of any age. However, the treatment is most commonly utilized by those suffering from male pattern baldness.
If you are currently experiencing hair thinning, but the hair is still dense, you might not be suitable for a FUE hair transplant. The key reason for this is that there might not be sufficient space to insert the donor hairs.
On the other hand, if you have extensive hair loss, or are completely bald, then you also might not be suitable. This is because there might not be enough hair to collect from the donor site. It is also important to note that a FUE hair transplant is not suitable for those suffering from Telegen Effluvium. This is hair loss that is directly linked to stress. In the vast majority of cases, Telegen Effluvium is only a temporary issue, meaning that the hair will eventually grow back.
Ultimately, a hair specialist will be able to ascertain whether or not you are suitable for the treatment during your consultation. We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
FUE hair transplant: Consultation
Prior to being accepted for a FUE hair restoration treatment, you will first need to meet with the hair specialist for a one-on-one consultation. Not only will this ensure that you are suitable for the treatment, but it will also enable the specialist to determine whether your expectations can be met.
Initially, the consultation will see the specialist ask you a range of questions surrounding your goals. Once this has been discussed, the hair specialist will then explain the different options available to you, including that of a FUE hair transplant.
Next, the hair specialist will then proceed to gain a better understanding of your medical history, alongside any medications or supplements that you are currently, or have previously taken.
The hair specialist will also want to perform a basic physical examination. Once again, this is to ensure that you are a good fit for the underlying FUE hair transplant process. When the specialist has all of the relevant facts, and they have determined that you are suitable, they will then proceed to explain the step-by-step procedure.
On top of this, they will also explain the associated risks of the procedure. Ultimately, this will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether the treatment is suitable.
So now that we’ve covered the consultation, in the next section we are going to clarify the procedural steps
What steps does the FUE hair restoration process require?
When you first arrive for your appointment, the hair specialist will initial cleanse your scalp. Next, they will then proceed to numb the specific area of your head with a local anesthesia. This is to ensure that the treatment process remains pain-free.
The specialist will then proceed to make hundreds of tiny punch incisions to the back of the head. This is with the view of extracting the hair follicles. The specialist will use a needle or blade to make the holes to the area receiving the hair transplant.
The next stage of the treatment will see the specialist transplant the previously collected hairs in to the affected area. This is done on a hair-by-hair basis, and as such, is a highly skilled procedure.
In fact, the FUE hair restoration process usually takes at least 4 hours to complete, per session. After the procedure is complete, the specialist will cover the affected area with bandages or a graft. In total, you might be required to have additional treatments, which will essentially repeat the above process. Most patients undergo the FUE hair restoration 3/4 times, although this will need to be at intervals of a few months apart.
So now that you know what the step-by-step procedure entails, let’s explore what you need to consider after the treatment.
What to consider after a FUE hair transplant?
Once the FUE hair transplant procedure is complete, you are likely to feel somewhat sore in and around the scalp area. As such, it is likely that the hair specialist will prescribe you suitable pain relief medication. On top of this, you will also likely need to have antibiotics prescribed. This is to reduce the threats of infection. Moreover, in order to keep the swelling to a minimum, you may be given anti-inflammatory medications.
In the vast majority of cases, you should be able to return to work a few days after the procedure. After a few weeks, the transplanted hair will begin to fall out. When it does, it will pave the way for the new hair follicles to grow. When it comes to noticing the results of the FUE hair restoration, most patients begin to notice a difference 8-12 months after the surgery. However, this will vary on a patient-by-patient basis.
So now that we’ve covered what to expect prior, during and after the FUE treatment process, let’s take a look at what risks are associated with the procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from potential candidates. If we have failed to answer a specific question or concern that you might have, please feel free to contact the practice.
FUE hair restoration: What are the risks?
It is important to note that the hair specialist will give you a full break down of any associated risks during the consultation meeting. However, to give you an idea of what you need to consider, we have listed some of the most risks common below.
- Swelling in and around the scalp
- Bruising around the eyes
- Folliculitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the hair follicles
- Crusting around the area where the hair was removed, or implanted
How much does a FUE hair transplant cost?
There is no ‘One Size Fits All’ when it comes to a FUE hair transplant. The reason for this is that every patient has their own individual circumstances. For example, whilst some patients may only need to undergo the treatment once, others may need additional therapy such as PRP or Stem Cell Therapy for optimal results. As such, this will have a direct effect on the underlying cost.
This is why it is crucial that you first meet with the hair specialist during your one-on-one consultation. This will allow them to assess your individual circumstances and ultimately, give you a full breakdown of the costs. At this point, you will be under no obligation to proceed with the treatment.
To get an idea of the costs involved with a hair transplant, please have a look at our cost calculator.
What is the difference between a FUE and FUT hair transplant?
Whilst the overarching aim is similar, there is a key different between the underlying procedure utilized in both a FUE and FUT hair transplant. In its most basic form, the FUT variation of a hair transplant seeks to remove a 6-10 inch strip from the back of your head. After this, the specialist then divides the strip in to hundreds, if not thousands of tiny grafts.
On the other hand, a FUE hair transplant instead shaves the back of your scalp, and then removes the hair follicles one-by-one.