What is Follicular Unit Extraction?
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a surgical method for obtaining hair for transplantation. It involves making a small, round incision on the scalp, surrounding the follicular unit to isolate it from the tissue around it. The diameter of each incision is less than 1 mm or the size of the tip of a pencil. The surgeon then extracts the follicular unit from the scalp. The process is repeated multiple times until the desired number of grafts is obtained.
The duration of FUE procedure can range from a couple of hours to a couple of days. The length of the procedure is determined by how many follicular units need to be extracted for the transplantation, which is decided by you and Dr. Agullo depending on your goals and objectives. The surgical cuts, which are about 1-mm big, take 5 to 7 days to heal. After this time they are fully healed, reduced to tiny white scars concealed by the hair around it.
This method of extracting individual follicular units is what differentiates FUE from Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) where the units are taken out in a single strip to be later dissected, leaving behind a long thin scar.
Once the follicular unit grafts are extracted from the donor area, the recipient sites are prepared in the scalp’s balding area with a special instrument. The follicular units are then carefully planted into these tiny sites. Once in their new place on the scalp, the follicular units will continue to grow into follicles that produce healthy hair.
In an FUE procedure, the surgeon has the option of harvesting hair not just from the scalp, but also from other areas such as the beard, chest, pubis, or legs. This is usually referred to as “body hair transplantation. However using such donor areas has some constraints, which should be discussed. Body hair transplantation is performed if the patient no longer has adequate amounts of donor’s hair available in the scalp.
The Case for FUE
Due to the absence of a linear scar in the FUE technique, patients can wear their hair quite short after the procedure. Athletes and people engaged in strenuous activities may also benefit from this quality.
FUE is also a good option for people who have not healed properly from a FUT procedure or those with a very tight scalp. FUE is an excellent option for patients in which the FUT or strip procedure is no longer possible because they have had multiple procedures in the past. The FUE can also easily camouflage the scar left by a FUT procedure. This involves extracting some hair from the area surrounding the scar and then planting it directly into it.
Comparison with Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FUE is basically a method of extracting follicular units from the scalp and is one of two main methods, the other being Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
Recipient sites are created in the same way as they are in FUT procedure. The placement of follicular unit grafts is also the same. The main difference between the FUT and FUE is the harvesting method of grafts.
Click here to see a detailed comparison between Follicular Unit Transplantation and Follicular Unit Extraction.
Surgical or Non-Surgical?
FUE procedures are often marketed as minimally invasive or non-invasive. Some people opt for a follicular unit extraction believing it is not a surgical procedure or less invasive than follicular unit transplantation. However, they are wrong in both their assumptions. FUE is a surgical procedure, same as FUT. It is also as invasive as FUT because the incision depth is the same in both procedures.
The only difference is that of the way the incision(s) are made with FUE having many tiny round ones and FUT having a single long one. FUE does have quicker healing times, less pain, and less numbness to the donor area when compared to FUT.
Cost of FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)
Pricing varies depending on the extent of the treatment or surgery. You can see a list of the approximate prices of each procedure on our current fee schedule. Generally speaking, cosmetic plastic surgery is considered “elective” and is not covered by most insurance plans. The prices listed on our fee schedule represent the minimum cost of the procedures, including anesthesia and surgical facility fees, medical tests, garments, and recovery products. The cost of prescription medications, however, is not included. The exact price of each procedure can only be determined after a thorough consultation. All fees must be paid in full prior to the scheduled treatment.
When deciding to have the procedure look beyond the cost per graft and evaluate you physician’s qualifications and experience. Dr. Frank Agullo takes pride in providing patients with a personalized experience throughout the hair restoration process. He will be present throughout your consultation, procedure, and recovery. As a hair restoration patient himself, his goal is that you have the best experience possible.
At Southwest Plastic Surgery we take pride in our state of the art facilities offering both FUE and FUT techniques. Dr. Agullo will assess your goals and objectives to help formulate the best treatment plan and modality. Contact us today to setup your consultation.