FUE hair transplant stands for Follicular Unit Extraction, and refers to an advanced type of hair restoration surgery. FUE is a method of donor hair extraction by which individual follicular units (naturally occurring groupings of hairs) are removed one-by-one and then transplanted to the recipient region.
FUE was originally pioneered by Dr. Ray Woods of Australia. Although many doctors were reluctant to adopt this new procedure, others (including Dr. Cole who soon developed his own refined FUE method- the Cole Isolation Technique, or CIT®) saw the potential and were excited about the idea of a ‘scarless’ hair transplant technique. Today, there are numerous FUE theories, techniques and instruments available, and the procedure continues to evolve and gain popularity within the hair transplant community.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is frequently referred to as the “strip” hair transplant procedure. FUT is an older means of extracting donor hair, whereby a surgeon excises a linear strip of hair and tissue from the back of the scalp. This tissue is then dissected into individual follicular units, by surgical technicians, and then placed in thinning or balding recipient regions. Meanwhile, the wound is closed with the use of sutures.
One of the major drawbacks of the FUT method is that the patient will be left with a linear scar on the back and sides of their head. This scar will be detectable if the patient opts to wear their hair very short, and may even stretch over time. Strip procedures also permanently distort the direction of hair growth along the perimeter of the scar.
FUE hair transplantation, on the other hand, offers a number of advantages over FUT/strip procedures. FUE does not leave a linear scar, nor does it distort the growth angles of hair. FUE is a less invasive hair transplant procedure and therefore requires less healing and recovery time post-surgery.
With FUE hair transplantation, the donor hair available for extraction is maximized due to the ability of FUE surgeons to harvest hair from throughout the ‘permanent zone’, including nape hair, or even body hair. Additionally, FUE doctors can select the follicular units that will offer the most hairs per graft, and produce an optimal yield. Conversely, strip procedures limit surgeons to using only those hairs found in a single strip of scalp tissue.
Rather than leaving the important and delicate work of separating out the follicular units to surgical techs, FUE hair transplant doctors remove follicular units themselves. In addition to keeping much of the graft handling in the hands of the most educated and proficient person for the job, FUE grafts spend much less time outside of the body, ensuring maximal survival.
In the hands of a skilled hair transplant surgeon, FUE transection rates are extremely low and graft survival rates are very high. FUE procedures offer patients the best potential for natural-looking hairlines and the best overall aesthetic result.
It is important to understand that, for the hair restoration surgeon, FUE is a more technically difficult and laborious procedure than strip. Mastering FUE hair transplantation requires great skill and plenty of practice and experience. Many hair transplant physicians have yet to embrace FUE because they are not willing to spend the time it takes to truly master it. Other physicians offer FUE hair transplants based simply on patient demand, yet do not have the skills or patience required to become truly proficient at it. In order to ensure you receive the best results possible, find a physician who practices FUE almost exclusively and one who truly believes in the superiority of the procedure.