FUE, or Follicular Unit Extraction is one of the ways hair restoration surgeons obtain hair grafts. Each follicular unit is removed from the scalp directly instead of being excised or cut from a strip of tissue.
Both techniques, FUE and strip excision (FUT), yield follicular units. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of the FUE Procedure:
-No linear scar: This is reason most frequently given why people request FUE procedures*.
-Decreased healing time: Usually 2-3 days less than FUT.*
-Patients with previous FUT surgeries and/ or “tight” scalps can have donor grafts harvested.*
Disadvantages of the FUE Procedure:
-Potentially fewer grafts harvested since the surgeon has to leave behind every other graft in the harvest area otherwise there will be a bald spot.*
-Time consuming- FUE procedures are more labor intense. One of the benefits of Robotic Assisted FUE procedures (ARTAS) is to reduce the time and work load. Less fatigues surgeons and staff yield better surgeries.*
-Harder to camouflage during the post surgical period (about one week). Patient has to cut the donor area hair short.*
-Not all patients are candidates. These procedures are more difficult to perform on African American patients.*
Once the grafts are harvested, FUE grafts tend to be more delicate. They need to be handled very carefully as the harvest technique leaves less adipose (fat) and tissue around the growth centers of the grafts. Technicians and surgeons need to be trained very specifically on the special handling of these grafts. Hydration and temperature control needs to be monitored.
Today there are multiple FUE techniques available: manual, device driven and robotic. The patient’s skin quality, density, hair angles and aesthetic goals should dictate the device chosen. All hair restoration surgeons performing FUE procedures need to be able to switch techniques if need be. This way the patient will obtain the best results.*
*Individual results may vary.