This insightful article has been written by Pat Hennessy, the Publisher of the Hair Transplant Network, the Hair Loss Learning Center, and the Hair Loss Q&A Blog. Some of the material has been edited by Bill, the Associate Publisher.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE) also known as follicular isolation technique (FIT) is a hair transplant technique different from Follicular Unit Transplantation in which a small round punch instrument is used to extract follicular unit grafts from a patient’s bald resistant donor areas. These 1, 2, 3 and 4 hair follicular unit grafts are then transplanted into a patient’s balding areas.
Given the time consuming and tedious nature of this procedure a hair restoration physician is often limited to transplanting 500 to 1000 follicular unit grafts in one day. The cost per graft of FUE has significantly gone down in the last few years but is still typically a few more dollars per graft than the cost of the standard follicular unit hair transplantationDuring the Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE procedure individual follicular unit grafts are excised one at a time using a tiny one millimeter or less sized punch. Typically the hair transplant patient’s hair in the donor area where these grafts are being removed is cut short so that the physician is able to see the patient’s scalp.The follicular units are extracted using a multiple step process. First a small sharp punch scores the skin around a follicular unit. Then a small dull punch is used to go deeper into the soft tissue surrounding the follicular unit.Since the direction and angle of the follicular unit beneath the skin can’t be seen and can often differ from the direction of the hair on the surface, a sharp punch if used below the surface of the skin might transect or severe the underlying follicular unit. However, the dull punch tends to envelope the follicular unit, while separating it from the surrounding soft tissues. This process is typically referred to as “blunt dissection”.Once the underlying follicular unit is separated from the surrounding tissues it can then be extracted, often by a forceps gripping the hair above the surface.
The small hole left behind after the follicle is extracted then heals over the next few days. This tiny wound contracts as it heals making the resulting round scar smaller and less noticeable. The FUE patient typically ends up with hundreds of small round white scars, which are normally not detectable to the naked eye once the patient’s hair grows out.
To see a video of the FUE/FIT procedure performed, click here.
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