Hair loss is a very common problem faced in Singapore. Both males and females can face it. Hair loss can affect one’s confidence. Therefore, it is important to address it effectively. While there are many solutions out in the market, like minoxidil, finasteride, REGENERA and the likes, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) still remains the best options in restoring areas of baldness.
About FUE Hair Transplant
There are 2 main ways to extract donor hair grafts from the back of the head. The older technique is called Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) and the newer one is known as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). FUT is increasingly falling out of fashion because of its associated side effects, while FUE is increasingly becoming the option of choice.
In FUT, a long linear incision is made at the back of the head to obtain a long strip of tissue that contains the donor hair. This strip of scalp is then dissected into individual follicles which are then re-implanted to the balding area. While FUT remains useful in some situations, such as severe donor site insufficiency, the technique is rarely used nowadays. This is because FUT is associated with higher complication rates, longer downtime, severe postoperative pain and a very prominent and long linear scar at the back of the head.
In FUE, each individual follicular unit is extracted directly from the patient’s donor area one at a time. Each follicular unit contains an average of 2 hairs but can contain 3 or more hairs. Because each follicular unit is harvested one by one using a small punch instrument, there is no drastic scar left behind like FUT. While what was harvested will certainly leave a bald spot, the scarring is minimized and not obvious. The minimized appearance of scarring is the most important advantage over other hair transplant procedures. The patient can thus wear his hair short or shaved without worrying about any noticeable scarring. As such, FUE is becoming the technique of choice when it comes to hair transplant in Singapore.
Another advantage of FUE is that it typically has a shorter recovery time. Most FUE patients can resume their normal activities the next day after their procedure. Patients can do things like attend online meetings and type reports the next day. FUE also can be used to extract follicle units from other areas of the body. Hair transplants from the arms, legs, chest and back can be considered for certain patients, especially if they have limited donor supply or poor quality of donor grafts.
What Happens During a Hair Transplant?
The area of extraction is first marked at the back of the head. Local anaesthesia is then injected to numb the area. Once there is no more pain, DHT resistant hair follicles are extracted from the back of the head and transplanted to the areas that are balding, typically the front and top of the head instead. It is akin to the hair grafts “moving house” from the back to the front or top! Once they have been removed from the back, they won’t grow from the back of the head anymore, and instead will grow at the new location at the once bald area. Although removing hair from the back will thin out the hair at the area, once the hair grows out, it is usually unnoticeable because there is ample hair in this region which grows straight down. People will typically not notice the reduced density unless you cut your hair short (1-2mm). At the same time, the hair grafts are harvested strategically such that they wont leave behind an obviously bald patch at the back.
The new hair grafts at the transplanted area will last for as long as the back of the hair lasts, which means they can potentially last to a lifetime, as the back of the hair is naturally resistant against balding in the first place.
Who Is Suitable for FUE Hair Transplant?
There are several candidates who will benefit from FUE hair transplant.
- Those who suffer from various stages of male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss, as long as the donor site at the back is sufficient or grafts are of good quality
- Those who want to enhance their eyebrow, beard, sideburn or want a widow’s peak hairstyle
However, if the hair loss is due to underlying medical conditions like cancer or chemo/radiotherapy or thyroid disease, such patients are not good candidates for FUE.
Why The Clifford Clinic for FUE Hair Transplant?
Hair transplant is a team effort. We have a dedicated hair team that has extensive experience in the harvesting and implanting of hair grafts. We also have several other unique advantages.
We use able to customize the tip of the hair extraction tool uniquely to each patient. During the procedure, thin micro-tips of 0.7 – 0.9 mm diameter are selected according to the thickness of the hair roots. These tips allow the hair to be removed without damaging the hair root. At the same time, the scalp is minimally affected and is preserved, resulting in scars that are not obvious. Postoperative pain is reduced and recovery time is faster.
When the hair grafts are outside the body, they run the risk of what is known as ischaemic damage. This is because the hair grafts are not in their natural environment. The bio-solution that stores the hair grafts serve to minimize the ischaemic damage. Our doctors carefully select the most advanced bio-technology solution that offers the greatest level of protection and the lowest level of stress on the graft during its time outside of the body. This results in improved survival rate of the hair grafts.
3) Body hair
Transplantation of body hair to the scalp offers an option for treating extensive cases of baldness with poor donor area. This vastly expands the donor pool and makes the maximal use of every follicular resource. However, a thing to note is that the quality of hair from the body is vastly differently from the hair on the head. We prefer as much as possible to use the hair from the scalp. A discussion with a doctor will be ideal before deciding whether to use body hair as donor hair grafts.
4) Unshaven-FUE. (Undetectable FUE)
Traditional FUE really requires the patient to be fully shaven. For Singaporean men who have gone through army, it like going back to BMT (Basic Military Training). In U-FUE (undetectable FUE), only the back of the head needs to be shaven, while the rest of the hair remains intact. This is also known as the “back-shave” technique, where only the back of head is shaved, while maintaining the current hairstyle. During the process of healing post-transplant, the scabs and redness can be hidden by the existing hair. This helps make the surgery undetectable since the rest of the hair can cover the traces of the surgery from being noticed.
The disadvantages are time, cost and less grafts transplanted in a single day as compared to the traditional FUE. The workload involved in this surgery is exponentially more. Therefore, it will be more expensive. Less grafts can be extracted in a single day as it will take more time for implanting of the hair grafts to be done. This technique is popular among patients who need to face clients as part of their day-to-day job.
Down-time of FUE
As mentioned earlier, most patients can resume work the next day. The pain post-operation is very tolerable. Some patients don’t even take the painkillers prescribed to them. There will be scabs formed on the scalp post-operation. As such, the scalp will usually look very raw in the first week or so. At the same time, the hair grafts take about a week to be fully rooted into the scalp. As such, while patients can resume work the next day, patients who need to face clients or more physically active will have to take note of several precautions during the first week. Things get better after the first week.
In conclusion, as compared to the past, there is a very good solution to treating hair loss today. One need not accept the fate of being bald. FUE hair transplant remains a safe and effective way to treat hair loss and baldness.