Follicular Unit Extraction: What is a FUE Hair Transplant?

We get it… understanding the exact ins and outs of a follicular unit transplant can be confusing, and no doubt daunting.

It gets worse when you read confusing, and sometimes conflicting, information on exactly how follicular unit extraction (FUE) works, its benefits, and if it’s right for you.

And so, let’s put that all to bed today and dive into a master guide on the FUE technique transplant. Only then can you decide if it is the right option for you…

Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant Guide

There’s no doubt that the FUE process is a revolutionary approach in the treatment of hair loss.

In the upcoming sections, we delve deeper into the step-by-step procedure, benefits, and post-op care requirements of the FUE method for a hair transplant to help you make an informed decision.

Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to choosing the optimal solution for hair restoration.

What is FUE?

So, what does FUE mean? What’s the exact FUE definition?

With a FUE method hair transplant, individual hair follicles are extracted from the donor area (usually the back or the sides of the head) and transplanted to the thinning or balding areas, offering a less invasive and more natural-looking solution compared to traditional methods.

It’s sounds pretty simple, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than this, so let’s break down some of the key terms:

  • Follicular unit: refers to a small group of one to four hairs; the natural building block of hair growth.
  • Extraction: the process of carefully removing these “units” from the donor area with the help of specialized instruments.

Follicular unit extraction is known for its precision, minimal invasiveness, and the ability to yield a natural and undetectable outcome.

Understanding FUE is essential in making an informed decision about your hair restoration journey, so let’s move on to the intricacies of the procedure.

The FUE procedure

The FUE procedure is a sutureless hair restoration method that involves trimming the donor area at the back of the head to 1-2 mm, allowing extraction of individual hair follicles. These harvested follicles are seamlessly implanted into the bald area, mimicking the pattern of natural hair growth.

In the hands of an experienced surgeon, follicular hair extraction is a seamless process that paves the way for a successful FUE hair transplant. Remember, the goal is not just to restore hair, but to restore confidence, so choosing a method that promises a natural and undetectable outcome is a decision worth taking seriously.

The exact FUE hair transplant procedure steps are:

1. Follicular Hair Extraction

Follicular hair extraction is the pivotal first step of the FUE procedure, involving a specialist who meticulously extracts individual hair follicles directly from the donor area—typically the back or sides of the head, where hair growth is most abundant.

The extraction process requires the use of specialized, microsurgical extraction instruments—minuscule tools that ensure minimal trauma around the follicular unit and provide precise extraction of hair follicles. The punches (surgical handpiece) used to extract the follicles varies according to the patient’s hair characteristics, type and texture, but are typically less than 1mm in diameter.

Once the follicles have been carefully removed from the donor area, they are preserved in a graft under appropriate conditions to maintain their viability and ensure the success of the transplant. It’s crucial to understand that each follicle is naturally composed of one to four hairs, and retaining this natural arrangement is instrumental in achieving a result that is indistinguishable from natural hair growth.

2. PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) Injection

PRP is a highly concentrated solution derived from your own blood, rich in growth factors and proteins that promote hair growth and healing.

This is where the term “hair follicle extraction” really comes into play. Once the follicles have been extracted and preserved, they are infused with PRP before transplantation. This not only increases the graft survival rate but also stimulates the growth of the transplanted hair, resulting in denser, healthier hair growth.

PRP injection is a critical step in the FUE process that helps to ensure maximum growth from the transplanted follicles and optimal healing of the scalp. It’s an innovative technique that has revolutionized the field of hair restoration, offering improved outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

3. FUE Hair Transplantation

At this stage, the extracted and treated follicles are skillfully implanted into the balding or thinning areas of the scalp. This crucial step requires a high level of precision and artistry on the part of the transplant surgeon to ensure natural-looking results.

The surgeon will carefully make tiny incisions in the transplant area, mimicking your hair’s natural growth pattern. Each follicle is then surgically inserted into these incisions, with careful attention to the direction, angle, and depth to create a hairline that is as natural as possible.

The process is relatively painless due to the use of local anesthetics. Furthermore, because FUE doesn’t involve stitches, post-operative discomfort is minimal, and recovery time is significantly shorter compared to other hair restoration methods.

After the procedure, you can expect to see new hair growth in the treated areas within 3 to 4 months, with the final results visible after a year. The transplanted hair will grow just like your natural hair, and you can cut, style, and color it to your preference.

male before and after follicular unit extraction results

Benefits of FUE surgery

FUE hair transplant surgery offers a multitude of benefits that make it a popular choice due to its emphasis on precision, natural-looking results, and minimal invasiveness.

While the FUE vs FUT debate will likely always be a talking factor, the following FUE advantages have significantly contributed to its widespread adoption and patient satisfaction:

1. Minimally Invasive

Unlike FUT (also known as “strip harvesting”), FUE doesn’t require large incisions, stitches, punch or extensive scalpels to harvest strip of tissues via circular incisions.

Instead, FUE hair restoration surgery differs in that individual follicular units are extracted and implanted, leaving only tiny puncture marks on the skin around the follicular unit, which heal relatively quickly and are almost invisible after the operation. This results in a much less traumatic experience for the patient and significantly reduces the recovery period compared to the FUT technique.

2. Natural-Looking Results

If you’ve seen any FUE before and after results, you’ll have noticed that the the precision of FUE allows for a natural-looking hairline and the illusion of more hair density. This is thanks to the transplanted hair growing in a pattern that mimics natural hair, making the results undetectable as a transplant.

No two patients are the same, and this is why every FUE hair transplant procedure is tailored to meet the individual’s unique needs. Every step of the process—from donor area preparation to follicle implantation—is done with utmost skill and precision to deliver results that look as natural as possible.

3. Shorter Recovery Time

Since FUE is a minimally invasive follicular unit transplantation procedure, the recovery time is significantly shorter compared to other hair transplant methods. Most patients can return to their regular activities within a week!

However, keep in mind that the recovery process can vary depending on the individual. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for aftercare and do not over-exert yourself during the early stages of healing. If possible, stay at home for a few consecutive days and avoid blunt impact activities, such as sports and strenuous physical exercise.

Additionally, keep the scalp clean and moisturized with a gentle shampoo and conditioner to expedite the healing process.

4. Suitable for Different Hair Types

FUE hair transplant surgery is versatile and suitable for different hair types, making it an ideal choice for a wide range of individuals. This technique can address hair loss in both men and women, regardless of hair type and diameter. It’s capable of producing excellent results on straight, wavy, or curly hair, and it’s also effective on all hair colors and textures.

One good example is African American hair restoration, which is often difficult to achieve with certain hair transplant techniques due to the coarser texture of African American hair. However, FUE can produce excellent results for this type, so it’s a viable option for those looking to restore their lost hair without having to resort to staples or stitches.

Moreover, FUE can cater to patients with different patterns of baldness. Whether it’s a receding hairline, thinning crown, or more generalized hair loss, FUE can be customized to your specific needs.

5. No Linear Scar

Unlike the traditional strip harvesting method, which leaves a noticeable linear scar on the back of the head, FUE won’t leave any visible scarring. This is one of the biggest advantages of FUE, especially for those who prefer to wear their hair short.

This lack of visible scarring contributes greatly to patient confidence and is one of the main reasons why FUE is considered a superior method for hair transplantation.  Furthermore, the absence of a linear scar means less post-operative discomfort and a more aesthetic result, adding to the overall positive experience of the procedure.

female before and after follicular unit extraction results

Who Is Suited to FUE Treatment?

FUE hair transplantation is a highly individualized procedure, meaning it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. These factors can all influence suitability:

  • Age
  • Hair type
  • Degree of hair loss
  • Lifestyle, and
  • Overall health

The best way to determine if you are a good candidate for hair transplant surgery is to have a thorough consultation with a hair transplant specialist. During this consultation, the specialist will assess your hair loss, discuss your expectations and goals, and evaluate your overall health.

In general, a suitable candidate for FUE transplantation meets these criteria:

  • Thinning hair due to genetic baldness for more than 5 years or have progressed to Class 3 or above on the Norwood Scale
  • Realistic expectations
  • Good and thicker hair density at the back of the scalp (donor requirement)
  • Good scalp flexibility and laxity
  • In good health to undergo the procedure
  • Willing and able to follow the pre-surgery and post-surgery care instructions

Interested in FUE hair restoration?

Ready to regain your confidence and restore your natural-looking hair? Don’t let hair loss hold you back any longer.

Take the first step towards a fuller, healthier head of hair by booking a consultation with our expert team at our follicular unit extraction clinic. We’ll guide you through the process every step of the way.

We understand that the decision to undergo a hair transplant is a significant one, and we want to make the process as smooth as possible for you. That’s why we offer a travel allowance to help offset the cost of your journey to our clinic. Let us focus on the details so you can focus on looking forward to your transformation.

Fill in the form below, and let’s start your journey towards a more confident you!

You may also like

North Shore

4905 Old Orchard Road Professional, Building, Suite 718
Skokie, IL 60077

River North

61 W Erie St
Chicago, IL 60654

Let’s Talk

Consultations are always free.