Modern Hair Transplants have come a long way from the era of your father’s hair transplant. Ever since a technology called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) was introduced in the 1990s, the hair transplant industry has been revolutionized. Using an FUE system such as NeoGraft®, it is now possible to transplant hair in a way that’s practically undetectable to the common eye, in a procedure that gives little discomfort and has a fast recovery.
To understand how Follicular Unit Extraction works, let’s first define the key terms of hair transplant terminology.
The Follicular Unit
A hair follicle is an element of your skin that produces hair. Hair follicles can age and eventually die off. This is thought to be caused by the hormone DHT and a person’s susceptibility to it. In men, the follicles at the back of the head are typically DHT resistant, unlike those on top of the head. This weakness in the hair follicles on top of the head is also referred to as male pattern baldness.
A follicular unit is the naturally occurring grouping of hair follicles. Any number of follicles from 1-4 typically form a follicular unit.
Follicular Unit Extraction: Harvesting the Hair
There are two primary methods of harvesting follicular units for hair transplantation. One is Follicular Unit Extraction, and the other is the so-called strip harvesting method. During FUE harvesting, a machine using pneumatic pressure is used to individually extract and then store follicular units from the donor area of the scalp. This leaves a series of small red marks on the scalp where the follicular units are extracted. During strip harvesting, a strip of scalp containing countless hair follicles is surgically removed from the donor area in one piece. This strip is then dissected into follicular units later to be used for transplantation. Strip harvesting leaves a linear scar on the scalp.
Follicular Unit Transplantation: Implanting the Hair
Transplantation is the term used for inserting or implanting the follicular units in the recipient area of the scalp. A series of minuscule holes are essentially punched into the scalp, and the follicular units, i.e. hairs, are inserted into these holes. The process of inserting or transplanting these hair grafts is also referred to as Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT.
Your Hair Transplant Procedure with Follicular Unit Extraction
The first step towards growing new hair with a hair transplant is to schedule a personal consultation to have your hair evaluated and receive a quote. Your quote will be based on the number of hair grafts you’ll need for a full head of hair. At the Nashville Hair Doctor, you also have the option of requesting a free quote.
On the day of your procedure, we first administer local anesthesia to minimize discomfort. Our hair restoration specialist then begins the process of extracting the agreed upon hair grafts and transplanting them into the recipient areas of your scalp. Patients often describe this as surprisingly easy and comfortable. You’re free to chat with the technician the entire way, much like you would at a hair salon. After the procedure, you are free to resume your regular activities as early as the next day. For most patients, it takes up to a week for the punctures in the scalp to scab over and heal. To learn more, hear Nashville Hair Doctor patient David B. talk about his procedure and recovery.
Hair transplants are surgical procedures, even though they are easy and uncomplicated. This is why we perform all hair transplants in our fully-staffed plastic surgery practice under the supervision of our board-certified plastic surgeon. However, the procedure itself is performed by our NeoGraft technician who has over 20 years of experience with Follicular Unit Extraction. If you’re looking for the best hair growth results, you need an experienced provider who is skilled in the use of the technology as well as the art of implanting hair that looks natural. Having an experienced NeoGraft specialist is the difference between a hair transplant that can be detected vs one that looks so natural no one can tell you’ve had it.
As we have shown above, there are two distinct methods of harvesting hair for transplantation: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), and the Strip Method. The advantages of FUE are the patient’s much more rapid recovery (no surgery to recover from), minimal scarring (no linear scar), and much reduced post-operative pain. The advantages of the Strip Method are that it is less time-intensive (it is faster to remove an entire strip of scalp) and that the rate of damage to the follicles (also called transaction rate) is usually fairly low.
About that transection rate: For a follicle to be successfully transplanted, it needs to stay intact during the extraction process. Inevitably, some follicular units get damaged and won’t “take” in their new location. The lower the rate of these damaged units, the more hair you will have in the end. Proponents of the Strip Method will argue that it is superior to FUE due to, on average, a better transection rate. This is true if you assume the hair restoration specialist is relatively new to the procedure. FUE isn’t easy and takes years to master. A NeoGraft technician needs excellent hand-eye coordination, a delicate touch, and excellent hand motor skills, which take years of experience to develop. However, in the hands of such an experienced technician, the advantages of FUE over the Strip Method can’t be beat:
Minimal or no scarring
Little to no post-op discomfort
At the end of the day you want to have a hair transplant no one will know you’ve had. In the hands of a skilled hair restoration specialist using Follicular Unit Extraction to the best of its advantages, you will get just that!
All Memphis Hair Doctor and Nashville Hair Doctor patients are treated at our fully-staffed plastic surgery center in Nashville, Tennessee. If you live beyond easy driving distance of a same-day visit, don’t worry. With our Hair Doctor Travel Package*, it doesn’t matter where you live. We will help you with your overnight stay and travel expenses, and you’ll get a night on the town in the Music City in addition to your new hair.