Follicular Unit Extraction

Written by Dr. Griffin

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is the newest technique used to obtain hair grafts in modern hair transplant surgery. The term refers to the removal of distinct follicular units directly from the scalp so they can be transplanted in the desired area. To obtain the units, the surgeon creates tiny holes around the follicular units and then gently lifts them from the skin.

Another commonly used method for obtaining grafts is known as strip harvesting. In this method, the surgeon removes a strip of skin and hair from the scalp and then separates out the individual follicular units, which will be transplanted in the targeted area. Both approaches allow for the creation of follicular units. The surgeon performing your hair transplant will determine which extraction method will best suit you.

Follicular units

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. The goal of hair transplant surgery is to increase hair in an area of baldness or sparseness while maintaining a natural appearance. To do this, surgeons must pay particular attention to how the follicular units are placed and spaced during transplantation.

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, surgeons are 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.

Advantages of FUE

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 rarely visible once the area has healed. Healing time and discomfort is typically less than that associated with strip harvesting.

Disadvantages of FUE

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. Results are better when surgeons utilize robotic technology such as the ARTAS® hair transplant system because the robot is more efficient at harvesting than a human being.

The FUE procedure

Dr. Griffin offers his patients an advanced form of FUE known as ARTAS®, which is a robotic-controlled procedure known to maximize graft yield, shorten procedure length, and minimize patient downtime. During the harvesting phase of the procedure, the patient is seated comfortably in a specially designed surgical chair. A skin tensioner is applied to the patient’s scalp to stabilize the donor area and provide for a more comfortable experience. Then the computer scans the available follicular units and begins to extract and dissect them.

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, Dr. Griffin and his team finalize the grafts and prepare them for transplantation in the recipient areas. To ensure the highest level of quality, Dr. Griffin manages the entire process, from harvesting to transplantation. While robotics are involved in the extraction of units, it is Dr. Griffin’s artistic skill and experience in placing the grafts that creates a natural appearance and successful outcome.

Recovery following FUE

Recovery following FUE is relatively quick and comfortable. More strenuous activities and exercise should be avoided to reduce the risk of bleeding and prevent injury to the donor and recipient sites. 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 FUE is shorter and more comfortable than the recovery after strip harvesting.

Ideal Candidates for FUE

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, FUE 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 FUE because there is no scar in the donor area as in strip harvesting.