Traditionally, the Strip removal method was used for a hair transplant that involved cutting the back of the scalp with a scalpel. This method is still practiced although it is invasive, causes more bleeding than the FUE method and leaves a visible scar.
The new and improved method to a hair transplant is the Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE hair transplant procedure. In FUE, a small instrument is used to make a small circular incision in the hair follicle in the donor region of the scalp. The follicular unit is then extracted directly from the scalp, leaving a small open hole. This process is continued until the hair transplant surgeon has harvested enough follicular units for the planned hair restoration. It can take anywhere from one to six hours. Large sessions may take two consecutive days. The donor wounds, about 1 mm in size heal over the course of seven to ten days leaving microscopic white scars buried in the hair in the back and sides of the scalp.
Harvesting hair one by one directly from the scalp is the distinguishing factor between the FUE and the FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant) or strip removal method. The FUT involves removing one thin and long strip of hair and then dividing it into individual follicular units using a microscope.
In the FUE method, these harvested hair grafts are then transplanted into the balding region of the head using a punching instrument. There is very little bleeding, no scarring, and a very short recovery period.
Although the FUE method is based on the simple principle of obtaining follicular units individually at a time, the consistency and skill of the results varies with each cosmetic surgeon. This technique consumes much more time and requires a high level of skill than FUT. FUE is best for patients who wear their hair very short because then there is no visible scar.
Another benefit of the FUE is the little transaction rate- transaction means the destruction of the follicles by severing them. A good doctor will make sure that each follicular unit will be viable before removing it from the scalp. The proper angle, depth, follicular unit control, perforation, and resulting traction are necessary for the best results.
The FUE procedure is more comfortable during the healing period as there is no stitching. Activities can be resumed after just a few days of rest however complete healing for a follicular unit extraction treatment is about five to seven days that is less than two weeks for the strip removal method.
Many more advancements are being made in the FUE procedure as well such as the automated follicular unit extraction that uses the NeoGraft device to extract and implant grafts much more quickly than when performed manually. In addition, the Laser FUE method is also available now. Hair transplant today has become much more sophisticated and much less barbaric since its primary days back in the 50’s!
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