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That FUE grafts have a bad survival rate is a rumor left over from the early 2000s. Instead of the technique itself being at fault, the survival rate of FUE grafts depends on a number of factors. Though viable since at least the early 2000's, proficiency at FUE takes time to build and the technique did not gain prevalence, or become standardized, until a few years later, leading to less consistent results in FUE's early stage of adoption.
Before going further, it is important to differentiate between transection and graft survival rates. Transection is when a follicle is irrevocably damaged during the extraction or transplantation phase. Graft survival rate, meanwhile, is how many grafts survive after recuperation.
Since FUE has become more mainstream, however, it has proven to be just as effective as FUT. For this to be the case, however, depends on the surgeon, clinic, and patient all. Hair transplantation may happen at the clinic but proper recuperation is vital for graft survival, almost as much so as the surgeon's proficiency and clinic's practices.
The growing demand for FUE has led to any number of surgeons offering the technique. However, not all surgeons have sought the necessary training or are practiced enough in the technique: as mentioned, building mastery in FUE can require years. Surgeons who offer FUE but lack competence will either botch the procedure themselves, or, worse yet, assign it technicians with practical experience but little medical knowledge. Such procedures can have a graft survival rate of 50% or less. If FUE is conducted by a surgeon who is actually competent, however, the story is different.
Cole Isolation Technique (CIT®), Dr. Cole's namesake FUE variant, has a transection rate of under 3% when conducted by Dr. Cole. Masters at FUE generally have a transection rate of around 10% or less. Other FUE surgeons who range in competence, meanwhile, can have transection rates that range from 20% to 80%.
Some exclusively strip physicians perpetuate the myth that the FUE technique does not provide optimal follicle survival rates. In fact, in the hands of a skilled FUE doctor, the yield should be over 90%, akin to a talented strip surgeon’s yield.