Do you need a hair transplant?
Hello and welcome to the ultimate guide to FUE hair transplants. In this five part series we’ll be covering every aspect of FUE hair transplants including finding the right surgeon, the steps involved in an FUE procedure and what aftercare steps to take. In this first part, the focus is on deciding whether or not you actually need a hair transplant.
Ok so you’ve noticed your hair is starting to thin out. It might just be very mild thinning at the crown or more severe diffuse thinning that’s occurring at a rapid pace. The common reaction to this is to panic and start searching online for solutions.
A hair transplant is often viewed as quite a drastic solution to hair loss. In fact, many people dismiss it out of hand and don’t even consider the idea. However there are also people on the other end of the spectrum – whose hair loss disturbs them so much that they want to take action immediately.
Key questions to ask yourself
The truth is that FUE hair transplants are not suitable for everybody. To help decide if you’re a suitable candidate, below are some extremely important questions to ask yourself –
- How much does your hair loss bother you? – Because hair loss is often touted to be one of the worst things that can happen to a person, it’s easy to let this perception cloud your own thinking. The truth is that not everyone reacts in the same way to hair loss. Some see it as the end of the world; and others accept it with some dose of inevitability. Some men actually don’t mind the thought of shaving their head. Try to think about how you feel about it personally away from anyone else’s input.
- How severe is your hair loss? – If you hair loss is very mild or has only just started then you’re probably not a good fit for a hair transplant. The reason for this is that a hair transplant will not do anything to prevent hair that you were already going to lose from thinning. This can result in an uneven appearance to your hair that’s less than desirable.
- Have you given treatments a try? – If your hair loss has only just occurred then the first thing you should do is give proven treatments a try. Finasteride and minoxidil can be very effective at preventing further hair loss so you should always see what your results are like before you look into a hair transplant.
- Have you discussed it with your family and friends? – Hair loss might not be a subject you’re comfortable discussing. However, having a chat with close family members and friends can be a great way to get a new perspective on whether or not a hair transplant is right for you.
Understanding Follicular Unit Excision
There’s a good deal of debate in the hair loss community about which transplant method is better – FUE or FUT. The truth is there is no single right answer, as a lot depends on the severity of the patient’s hair loss and how many grafts are needed. There are some key benefits FUE hair transplants provide which makes them the more popular choice among patients right now.
What is FUE?
Follicular unit excision (sometimes referred to as extraction) is one of the two main types of hair transplant procedure performed today – the other being FUT (follicular unit transplant). In an FUE procedure, units of follicles are taken from the back and sides of the head and transplanted to the thinning areas.
FUE is a very delicate procedure and therefore must be performed by someone with a lot of skill and experience. In order to extract the follicular units from the back of the head, a combination of a sharp punch and dull punch is used. The sharp punch is first used to score the skin around the unit that’s going to be extracted. The dull punch is then used to go deeper into the surrounding soft tissue of the follicular unit.
The reason both a sharp and punch and a dull punch are used is to retain the quality of the follicles. If a sharp punch was used to score the skin, it could easily sever the underlying unit. Once the unit has been separated from the surrounding soft tissue, the follicles can then be extracted.
The small holes that are left in the back of the head typically take a few days to heal and the scars that are left behind are usually invisible to the human eye.
The advantages of FUE
No visible scarring – Perhaps the biggest benefit of FUE is that it doesn’t leave any visible scar. There are tiny scars where the hair is extracted but they cannot be compared to the scar that’s left behind from an FUT procedure.
Ideal for early-stage hair loss – FUE is great for patients that are in the early stages of hair loss, since less coverage is required, and the best quality follicles can be used.
Great for patients who wish to shave their head – Not everyone who gets a hair transplant wants to grow their hair long. With an FUE procedure, you have the option to either grow your hair or shave your head. Because there’s no visible scarring, you can shave your head without feeling self-conscious.
Completely natural-looking results – FUE hair transplants provide completely natural-looking results thanks to the refined techniques that are used to extract and transplant the hair.
Less invasive than FUT – Another thing that makes FUE more appealing to a lot of people is that the process is less invasive. With an FUT procedure, a strip of skin is cut from the back of the head. With FUE, it’s a much more delicate and less invasive process.
Here are the advantages offered by the FUE hair transplantation procedure over similar methods:
- Ideally suited for people who like to sport shorter hair
- Minimized scarring in the donor area
- Faster healing and recovery time
- Reduced limitations after the procedure
- Best and easiest alternative when a strip excision cannot be performed on the scalp
Listed below are some of the disadvantages associated with the FUE procedure:
- Wider donor zone area compared to equivalent transplant procedures
- Quality of hair grafts is very delicate, and the grafts have the possibility of getting easily destroyed during placement, as the grafts that have been extracted do not contain the protective dermis layer and fat.
- The possibility that not all the implanted grafts may not grow
What about the strip method?
The strip method is basically where a strip of scalp containing healthy hair follicles is extracted from the patient and implanted on the bald areas of the scalp of the patient. The donor area will then be stitched or stapled together, and stitches will be removed after the area heals. The incision associated with a strip method is usually linear.
Strip method is significantly economical compared to FUE, usually about half the price of FUE
Provides the ability to move a larger number of grafts in a single surgical session to the balding areas
More healing time compared to FUE procedure
Long, linear scar as a result of the procedure