A Follicular Unit Extraction, or FUE, hair transplant is a harvesting method of hair transplant surgery. Many consider FUE a minimally invasive method because a small “punch” is used to harvest single hair grafts one at a time. The result is hundreds or thousands of round “holes” where the donor hair follicles are taken.
If you are interested in hair transplant surgery, the FUE harvesting method may be one of your primary considerations since it is advertised as a “no scar” surgery. While it’s true the FUE technique won’t leave you with a large linear scar, it can leave tiny round scars. If you shave your head, it’s possible these tiny scars could be noticeable. This can be especially problematic when large donations, more than 3,000 grafts, are required.
Every FUE hair transplant is unique to the patient’s individual needs. Some might need a relatively minor hairline correction. Others may need a significant restoration. The ultimate cost of your FUE hair transplant will depend on the scope of the procedure. Many doctors charge based on the number of grafts required. In general, FUE fees are higher than FUT fees.
Once you’ve had a full consultation with your surgeon and are scheduled for the procedure, there isn’t much else you have to do. Depending on your hair, some doctors might prefer you get a haircut a few days prior to surgery. The donor area of your hair will need to be shaved or cut very short for the procedure. In some cases, that can be done in the office on the day of your surgery.
Make sure you have everything arranged for your recovery in advance, including taking time off work if needed.
When you arrive at the office, you’ll likely fill out some final paperwork before the procedure. If the hair in the donor area is too long, it might require a cut. Otherwise you’ll likely be given a local anesthetic and put into “a very pleasant dream state,”.
First, the doctor will harvest the grafts from the donor area. Once those are processed and ready, they will transplant them to the receiving area. The process requires precision and attention to detail, so don’t expect to be in and out quickly. How long your procedure takes will depend on how many grafts your procedure requires and the technology used to harvest and transplant them.
You will need to be sure to properly care for your hair after the FUE transplant, but there isn’t a massive recovery process. You should experience little, if any, pain. You can resume most normal activities three days after surgery. You may need to wait longer before resuming some activities like swimming.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions for washing and caring for your hair initially. You’ll need to closely follow those instructions to ensure the best result.
While the procedure won’t take a major toll on your body, you might still want to take a few days off work to recover and let your hair grow.
“Recovery is fast, but most patients are worried about their haircut as the hair needs to be shaved down to the skin in the donor area,”. It takes about 10 days for the donor zone to look fully healed.
When done correctly a hair transplant will leave you with a natural look and a recovered hairline. When FUE is done with precision, not only will the surgeon fill in the troublesome area, but they will match the patterns of the existing hair in the recipient area.
The actual results will largely depend on the skill of your doctor, which is why it’s so important to make sure you find the right doctor from the start.
“Although using follicular units will ensure that individual grafts will look natural, the look of the overall restoration depends on the physician’s judgment in determining the angle, direction, and distribution of the implanted grafts, as these factors govern the overall aesthetic aspects of the hair transplant,”
Possible side effects include swelling, pain, scalp numbness, and ingrown hairs.
It is normal to lose transplanted hairs shortly after your procedure.The transplanted follicles shed their hair shafts. The actual follicle remains in the scalp and grows new hair shafts over the next several months.
If the transplanted donor hair was taken from an area that is not immune to baldness, it’s possible for the hair to fall out following a transplant. This can be a problem if the donor hairs are harvested from too high on the back of the head.
The process of growing new hair is not immediate. In fact, you may have to wait up to nine months before you start seeing growth. Some people can start seeing growth after three months, but others have to wait six to nine months before they see considerable new growth.
“The hair goes through intrinsic growth cycle and will start to come in depending on where in the cycle it is,”. Usually you will see some growth after four months and will continue up until 18 months after hair transplant.”