Follicular Unit Extraction

Written by Dr. Griffin

Restore Thicker Hair with Highly Advanced Hair Transplant Techniques in Philadelphia

Hair loss can occur because of a variety of factors, including genetics, heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or simply as a normal side effect of aging. Millions of people are affected by pattern baldness—excessive hair loss from the scalp—and are looking up hair transplants. Wondering what is the best method for hair restoration for you? There are several options available. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) from the Philadelphia-based Griffin Hair Restoration Center is an intricate surgical procedure.

This hair transplant strategy helps to restore a thicker, natural-looking head of hair. Before deciding which solution is right for you, it’s best to discuss the cause of your hair loss and treatment options with Dr. Griffin.

Want to learn more about the advantages of follicular unit extraction in Philadelphia? Contact the Griffin Hair Restoration Center of Philadelphia by calling (215) 561-9100 or submit a contact form to request a consultation and find out more about your options for restoring a thicker, fuller head of hair.

What Is Follicular Unit Extraction?

Follicular unit extraction is one of the two main types of hair transplant surgery. The other is strip harvesting, which is referred to as follicular unit transplantation (FUT).

Hair transplants with follicular unit extraction remain one of the top-rated ways to help hair growth on the scalp in 2022. With that in mind, the question many patients have is: Does follicular unit extraction work? The answer is yes.

During follicular unit extraction, individual hairs are removed directly from the scalp in the back of the head and transferred to areas experiencing thinning hair or baldness. Although the follicular unit extraction procedure is commonly performed on the scalp, it can also be used for other areas on the body where hair may be thinning or absent.

If you look closely at how hair grows on the head, you’ll notice that hair follicles are not evenly distributed across the scalp. Instead, they are spaced randomly in small groupings containing between one and four hairs. Follicular unit extraction replaces old hair follicles that cannot regrow hair with new follicles that are still capable of growing hair. The goal of hair transplant surgery with follicular unit extraction is to increase hair in an area of baldness or sparseness while maintaining a natural appearance. To do this, Dr. Griffin must pay particular attention to how the follicular units are placed and spaced during transplantation. Follicular unit extraction will create a fuller, natural-looking hairline for patients.

Real Patient Before & After Photos

before and 12 months after procedure -  photos of real patient

12 Months
Post Procedure

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When referring to a follicular unit, Dr. Griffin is talking about the entire hair follicular structure, which includes the glands, blood vessels, nerves, and tissue surrounding the follicle. In order for hair to continue growing in its new location, the integrity of this structure must be preserved during extraction.

What Are the Advantages of Follicular Unit Extraction?

In comparison to strip harvesting, FUE is far less likely to produce noticeable scarring at the donor site. The tiny holes that are created to extract the follicular units are not visible once the area has healed. Healing time and discomfort are typically less than that associated with strip harvesting.

What Are the Challenges of Follicular Unit Extraction?

The donor area needs to be shaved short for harvesting, which may be difficult for some patients. This can be mitigated with proper hair styling before and after the procedure. In addition, it takes longer to harvest the donor hair using FUE because the surgeon must harvest individual follicles.

What Can a Patient Expect During the Follicular Unit Extraction Procedure?

Dr. Griffin offers his patients an advanced form of FUE (Follicular Unit Excision) for follicular unit extraction, which involves harvesting individual follicles rather than removing a strip of scalp. During the harvesting phase of the follicular unit extraction procedure, the patient is lying comfortably in a specially designed surgical chair. Harvesting is done with an advanced handheld device that assures procurement of strong and healthy grafts. Harvesting takes two to three hours.

Real Patient Before & After Photos

before and 9 months after procedure -  photos of real patient

9 Months
Post Procedure

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After the grafts have been harvested via follicular unit extraction, Dr. Griffin and his team prepare the grafts for transplantation to the recipient areas. To ensure the highest level of quality, Dr. Griffin manages the entire process, from harvesting to transplantation. It is Dr. Griffin’s artistic skill and experience in placing the grafts that creates a natural appearance and successful outcome.

The follicles that are moved will be nourished by blood vessels and eventually begin to grow hair. Once single hair follicles have been moved, there will be virtually no sign of extraction left behind.

Patients frequently ask us, “Is follicular unit extraction painful?” Although it is a labor-intensive process, follicular unit extraction usually won’t cause any pain during the procedure itself after local anesthesia takes effect. Care is taken to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for each patient.

What Is Recovery Like from Follicular Unit Extraction?

Follicular unit extraction is a safe procedure. Patients can expect minor side effects that typically resolve on their own a few days after the surgery, such as bruising, swelling, discomfort, and sensitivity. There may be tiny white scars in the areas where the hairs were extracted, but these are easily hidden by the hair itself. If the head is shaved at some point, these will look like tiny white dots on the scalp skin.

Advancements in hair restoration technology have made surgical options such as follicular unit extraction easier for patients, with less discomfort and downtime than ever before. Recovery following follicular unit extraction is relatively quick and comfortable, lasting about one week in most cases.

Follow aftercare instructions closely to have as smooth a recovery as possible. It will be best to avoid strenuous activities and heavy exercise to lower the risk of bleeding and prevent injury to the donor and recipient sites after follicular unit extraction. Some scabbing will occur at both the donor and recipient sites, so many people choose to remain home from work for a few days. Swelling may occur on the forehead and around the eyes in some cases.

In general, the recovery period associated with follicular unit extraction is shorter and more comfortable than the recovery after strip harvesting. There is a high patient satisfaction rate for follicular unit extraction and the results from this method will look very natural. Hair growth will typically be seen within three to four months, with the final results in nine to 12 months.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Follicular Unit Extraction?

If you have significant hair loss, surgical hair transplant techniques like follicular unit extraction may be the only way to restore natural hair growth to bald spots or areas where the hair is thinning on the scalp. Candidates for a hair transplant are those who suffer from pattern baldness, yet still maintain good donor hair at the back of their head. Candidates should also be in good overall health and have realistic expectations about the results of their hair transplant.

In comparison to strip harvesting, follicular unit extraction is a better choice for patients who are at a higher risk of scarring in the donor area. Patients who wish to keep a shorter haircut are better suited to undergo a hair transplant using follicular unit extraction because there is no linear scar in the donor area. The best hair restoration solution for you depends on your unique needs and Dr. Griffin’s recommendations.

What Are Some Other Options for Hair Restoration?

With strip harvesting, the surgeon removes a strip of skin and hair from the scalp, then separates out the individual follicular units, which will be transplanted in the targeted area. Both approaches allow for the creation of follicular units. Dr. Griffin will determine which extraction method will best suit you. There are also non-surgical solutions available to treat hair loss, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which involves injections of a product obtained from the patient’s own blood to stimulate hair growth.

For more advice about follicular unit extraction in Philadelphia, contact the Griffin Hair Restoration Center of Philadelphia by calling (215) 561-9100 or submit a contact form to request a consultation.