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What is an FUE Transplant?

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  • Written By: Cindi Pearce
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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A follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplant is an option for people considering hair restoration. This procedure does not require scalpels and blades. Instead, a tiny surgical instrument is used to remove a single hair follicle at a time. When this technique is implemented, hair follicles are removed without requiring a linear incision. FUE transplant is a nearly painless procedure, albeit time-consuming, and very little bleeding occurs.

The areas from which the hair follicles are extracted are considered the donor areas. Hair in these areas is shaved to about 2 mm in length prior to the FUE transplant. The donor area can later be disguised by neighboring hair so it won’t be apparent that you have had anything done. If you are submitting to a more extensive procedure, a larger area must be shaved to allow equitable distribution of extracted grafts throughout the area.

As you are prepared for the follicular unit extraction transplant, your head will be photographed, focusing primarily on the donor area to allow for documentation of pre-existing scars and variances in the scalp. Before follicular units are removed, care is taken to determine that they are viable. Follicles that are not viable are not removed from your scalp, because they will not result in a successful transplant. Complications of a FUE transplant include a low incidence of follicle destruction when the units are severed.

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The process entails using the small instrument to remove the follicle from an area that is less than 1 mm wide. Ideally, the whole follicle is removed intact and there is no amputation or transection of hairs within the graft. Growth potential is reduced when too much surrounding tissue is stripped from the follicle. Some fat will remain below the bulb if the outer root sheath has not been sullied, which means the unit was taken out of the scalp without incurring damage. This area does not need to be stitched afterward, because it closes on its own.

The removed follicle is put in a solution that allows it to survive. It is processed and refined using a three-dimensional microscope. The unit is then readied for transplant.

The extracted follicles are implanted in the bald area of the scalp near the conclusion of each session via tiny needles that create canals into which the grafts are inserted. The grafts are placed at an angle that corresponds to the way the patient’s natural hair grows so, aesthetically, no one will be able to tell the difference between the natural hair growth and the grafts or transplanted hair. The follicular units will begin to grow and will continue to grow on a permanent basis. A week or so post-procedure, there will be a beard-like growth in the area, which covers the incisions. There is no perceptible scarring once the FUE transplant is completed, which means a person could shave his head after having a FUE transplant.

The cons of an FUE transplant are that it is time-consuming and cost prohibitive for some. Only a certain number of units can be harvested per session, in contrast to as many as 5,000 grafts being harvested during a more common hair transplant. From 800 to 2,500 extractions are made in a FUE transplant session. The number is determined in part by the condition of the patient’s skin. More grafts may be needed, which would require additional sessions.

Pros of the FUE transplant procedure include not having stitches and, consequently, experiences less discomfort than with other hair restoration procedures. Additionally, a FUE transplant recipient can wear his hair short if he desires. This is because there isn’t an obvious linear scar like there is when more invasive procedures are used.

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SimpleByte
Post 3

@Ceptorbi - Insurance does not usually cover the cost of a hair transplant. The cost varies, too, depending on how much hair you have transplanted. Costs range from around $3 to $10 per graft with $4 to $6 being about average. Considering that a patient will likely need hundreds if not thousands of grafts, the cost can add up quickly. Someone needing just a small bald spot covered may spend less than $5000, but people with larger areas to cover may have to spend $10,000 or more. Because the price varies, it's important to consult with hair transplant professionals to get an accurate estimate of what your individual transplant would cost.

Ceptorbi
Post 2

What's the average hair transplant cost? Does insurance cover it?

SimpleByte
Post 1

Hair loss is not unique to men, and a hair transplant for women is a good option for what can be an emotionally sensitive issue. The fact that there is no visible scar is appealing to me. Unfortunately, the procedure can be quite expensive.

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