What is hair transplant? What is the difference between FUE and FUT?
Hair transplant in Singapore is a surgical procedure performed to treat hair loss or baldness. It involves taking hair follicles from a donor area, usually the back or sides of the scalp, and transplanting them to the recipient area, which is typically the balding or thinning area of the scalp. The transplanted hair follicles continue to grow hair naturally in their new location.
There are two main techniques used in hair transplantation: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
1. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): FUE is a minimally invasive hair transplant technique. In this method, individual hair follicles are extracted one by one from the donor area using a small circular punch tool. The doctor makes tiny incisions or punctures in the recipient area and implants the harvested follicles. FUE does not involve the removal of a strip of scalp tissue like FUT, which means it leaves no linear scar.
2. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT): FUT, also known as the strip method, involves removing a strip of scalp tissue from the donor area. The strip is then dissected into individual follicular units under a microscope. These follicular units, which contain one to four hairs, are then transplanted into the recipient area by creating small incisions. FUT leaves a linear scar at the donor site, which can be concealed by surrounding hair.
In recent years, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) has gained popularity and is now considered the more popular technique for hair transplantation. This is mainly due to the following factors:
1. Scar Visibility: FUE does not leave a linear scar at the donor site, unlike Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT). The absence of a visible scar makes FUE more appealing to patients who prefer to keep their hair short or engage in activities that may expose the donor area.
2. Minimal Invasiveness: FUE is a minimally invasive procedure compared to FUT. It involves extracting individual hair follicles using a punch tool, resulting in less tissue trauma and a faster healing time. FUE typically has a shorter recovery period and less post-operative discomfort.
3. Technological Advancements: Advances in technology, such as motorized or robotic devices, have made FUE more efficient and precise. These tools aid in the extraction process, making it easier for doctors to perform the procedure and achieve satisfactory results.
History of Hair Transplant
Before we delve more into what FUE is all about, let us explore a little bit about the history of hair transplant. The procedure has evolved significantly over time, with advancements in surgical techniques and technology. Here’s a brief overview of the history of hair transplant:
1. Early Attempts: Hair transplantation techniques were first experimented with in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, a Japanese doctor performed the earliest documented hair transplant surgeries, using small grafts of hair-bearing skin to restore eyebrow and scalp hair in patients.
2. Punch Grafting: In the 1950s and 1960s, a doctor from New York, introduced the technique of punch grafting. This involved using a round punch tool to remove circular grafts of skin from the donor area, which were then transplanted into the recipient area.
3. Mini/Micro Grafts and FUT: In the 1980s, the concept of mini and micro grafts emerged. These smaller grafts, containing fewer hairs, resulted in a more natural-looking hairline. Around the same time, the Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) technique, also known as the strip method, was developed.
4. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): The Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique began to gain popularity in the 2000s. It was first introduced in the late 1980s but gained traction in the following decade. FUE allowed for the extraction of individual hair follicles directly from the donor area, without the need for a strip of scalp tissue. The individual follicles were then transplanted into the recipient area, leading to a more natural appearance and minimal scarring.
5. Technological Advancements: Over the years, advancements in technology have further refined hair transplantation. Motorized punch tools and robotic systems have made the extraction process more efficient and accurate. These advancements have improved the precision and success rates of hair transplant procedures..
Why is robotic system not widely used for hair transplant?
While robotic systems have been developed for hair transplant procedures, they are not as widely used as manual techniques like FUE and FUT. There are a few reasons for this:
1. Cost: Robotic systems for hair transplantation are expensive to acquire and maintain. The high cost associated with these systems makes them less accessible for many hair transplant clinics and doctors. Higher cost will also mean higher treatment cost to patients.
2. Adaptability: Robotic systems have limitations in terms of adaptability and flexibility. They may struggle with handling variations in patient anatomy, such as different hair characteristics, scalp thickness, and curvature. Human doctors, on the other hand, can adapt their techniques based on individual patient needs and adjust the procedure accordingly.
3. Precision and Speed: While robotic systems offer precise and consistent extraction of follicular units, they may not always match the speed and dexterity of skilled human doctors. Experienced doctors can efficiently perform the procedure manually, often achieving comparable or even superior results in terms of graft survival and natural-looking outcomes.
4. Patient Factors: Some patients may have specific characteristics, such as atypical hair loss patterns or scarring from previous surgeries, which may require a more customized approach. Human doctors can better assess and adapt to these unique patient factors during the procedure.
What is the difference between male and female hair transplant?
The primary difference between male and female hair transplants lies in the pattern of hair loss and the goals of the procedure. Here are some key distinctions:
1. Pattern of Hair Loss: Male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) tends to follow a distinct pattern characterized by receding hairline, thinning at the crown (top) of the head, and eventual balding in these areas. Female pattern hair loss, on the other hand, often involves diffuse thinning across the entire scalp, without a well-defined pattern. Women typically experience overall hair thinning rather than significant receding hairlines or bald spots.
2. Hairline Design: In male hair transplants, recreating a natural-looking hairline and addressing the receding hairline is often a primary concern. The hairline design may involve creating a lower, more youthful hairline and filling in areas of recession. In female hair transplants, the focus is typically on achieving overall density and improving the appearance of thinning hair across the scalp.
3. Graft Distribution: The distribution of hair grafts can differ between male and female hair transplants. In male hair transplants, grafts may be concentrated in the frontal hairline and areas of balding or thinning, while maintaining a suitable density in those areas. In female hair transplants, grafts are often distributed more evenly across the entire scalp to achieve a more consistent appearance.
What are the tools to help extract hair follicles in FUE?
There are several tools used to extract hair follicles in Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplant procedures. These tools aid in the precise extraction of individual follicular units from the donor area. Here are the main tools commonly utilized in FUE:
1. Manual Punch: Manual punches are cylindrical-shaped tools with a sharp, hollow inner core. They come in various sizes, typically ranging from 0.6mm to 1.2mm in diameter. Doctors use these punches to manually score and extract individual follicular units from the scalp.
2. Motorized Punch: Motorized punches are similar to manual punches but are attached to a motorized handheld device. The rotational movement of the punch is powered by the motor, allowing for faster and more efficient extraction. Motorized punches are available in different sizes and can be programmed to control the speed and depth of the extraction.
3. Robotic Systems: Robotic systems designed for hair transplantation, such as the ARTAS® System, also incorporate extraction tools. These systems use advanced image-guided robotic technology to identify and extract individual hair follicles. The robotic arm is equipped with a punch tool that precisely scores and removes the follicular units based on the programmed parameters.
4. Suction-Assisted FUE (SAF): The Suction-Assisted FUE technique utilizes a specialized tool called a blunt punch with a hollow inner core. The punch has a small opening on the side that connects to a gentle suction system. As the doctor performs the extraction, the suction helps to pull the targeted follicular unit into the punch, facilitating its removal.
5. Powered/Drill-Assisted FUE: Powered or drill-assisted FUE employs a handheld device equipped with a rotating punch. The device is motorized and controlled by the doctor. The rotating punch facilitates the scoring and extraction of follicular units with increased speed and precision.
These tools are used by experienced doctors during the extraction phase of FUE procedures. The choice of tool may depend on the doctor’s preference, the specific characteristics of the patient’s hair and scalp, and the available technology in the clinic.
What are the tools used to implant hair grafts into the scalp?
During the hair transplant procedure, after the extraction of hair grafts, the doctor uses specific tools to implant them into the recipient area of the scalp. Here are the main tools commonly used for hair graft implantation:
1. Implanters: Implanters, also known as implantation pens or Choi pens, are specialized instruments designed to facilitate the precise placement of hair grafts. They typically consist of a hollow needle or tube with a plunger mechanism. The doctor loads a hair graft into the implanter and then inserts it into the scalp at the desired angle and depth. Implanters help ensure accurate and controlled placement of grafts, minimizing trauma to the recipient area.
2. Forceps: Forceps, or tweezers, are commonly used in hair transplant procedures for graft implantation. They come in various sizes and designs, including straight or curved tips. The doctor holds the graft with forceps and carefully inserts it into the incisions made in the recipient area. Forceps allow for precise handling and placement of the grafts.
3. Slit-Making Tools: Slit-making tools, such as blades or custom-made needles, are used to create the tiny incisions in the recipient area where the grafts will be inserted. These tools can be manual or motorized, and they come in different sizes to match the size of the grafts. The doctor carefully makes the incisions, ensuring proper depth, angle, and spacing to achieve a natural-looking result.
4. Implantation Pen: An implantation pen is a handheld device that helps with the insertion of grafts into the scalp. It usually consists of a pen-like holder that holds the graft at the tip and allows the doctor to insert it into the incisions accurately. The implantation pen helps streamline the process of graft placement and ensures consistent depth and angle.
These tools are utilized by doctors during the implantation phase of the hair transplant procedure. The selection of tools may vary depending on the doctor’s preference, the specific technique used, and the available equipment in the clinic.
How is FUE performed?
1. Preparations: Before undergoing an FUE procedure, several essential preparations need to be made to ensure a successful outcome. These preparations include:
a. Consultation: Schedule a consultation. During this appointment, the doctor will assess your hair loss pattern, evaluate your donor area (where hair follicles will be extracted from), and discuss your expectations and goals.
b. Medical Evaluation: The doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination to determine your suitability for the procedure. They may also request blood tests and other diagnostic evaluations to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
c. Designing the Hairline: Collaborate with the doctor to create a natural-looking hairline that complements your facial features and meets your aesthetic preferences.
2. Step-by-Step Procedure: Once the necessary preparations have been completed, the FUE procedure can commence. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how it is typically performed:
Step 1: Donor Area Preparation: The patient’s donor area, usually the back or sides of the scalp, is trimmed to a short length to facilitate easier access to the hair follicles. Local anesthesia is administered to ensure a painless experience during the procedure.
Step 2: Extraction of Follicular Units: Using a specialized punch tool, the doctor carefully extracts individual follicular units (groups of 1-4 hair follicles) from the donor area. The punch tool creates tiny circular incisions around each follicular unit, allowing for precise extraction while minimizing trauma to the surrounding tissues.
Step 3: Graft Preparation: Once the required number of follicular units is harvested, they are meticulously dissected and prepared for transplantation. Trimming excess tissue and any unnecessary surrounding material ensures that each graft is ready for optimal placement.
Step 4: Recipient Area Preparation: The recipient area, where the transplanted follicles will be placed, is prepared by making small incisions or recipient sites. These sites are strategically created at specific angles and densities to ensure natural hair growth patterns.
Step 5: Graft Placement: Using fine needles or microsurgical instruments, the doctor delicately implants the prepared grafts into the recipient sites. This meticulous process requires precision and attention to detail to achieve a natural appearance and maximize the hair transplant’s aesthetic results.
Step 6: Post-Procedure Care: Once the grafts are successfully transplanted, the doctor will provide post-operative instructions to facilitate optimal healing and hair growth. These instructions may include the use of prescribed medications, gentle washing techniques, and avoiding strenuous activities or direct sunlight for a specified period.
What are the risks of FUE?
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a widely used surgical technique for hair transplantation that offers numerous benefits, including minimal scarring and faster recovery compared to traditional methods. However, as with any surgical procedure, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks involved.
1. Infection: While infections are rare after FUE, they are a potential risk. Proper sterilization of surgical instruments, adherence to aseptic techniques, and post-operative care instructions can significantly reduce the likelihood of infection. In case an infection does occur, timely medical intervention with antibiotics will be necessary to control and eliminate it.
2. Bleeding: Bleeding is a common risk during any surgical procedure, including FUE. The doctor should take precautions to minimize bleeding during the extraction and transplantation process.
3. Scarring: One of the advantages of FUE over other hair transplantation methods is its minimal scarring. However, it is essential to note that tiny, dot-like scars may still occur at the donor site where the hair follicles were extracted. These scars are usually very small and easily concealed, especially if the patient keeps their hair at a reasonable length. Proper wound care, including post-operative instructions and avoiding any undue tension or trauma to the donor area, can promote optimal healing and minimize scarring.
4. Follicle Damage: During the extraction and graft preparation stages of FUE, there is a possibility of damaging the hair follicles. Experienced doctors take great care to minimize the risk of follicle transection or trauma. Advanced tools, precise surgical techniques, and skilled expertise help reduce the likelihood of follicular damage. However, it is important to acknowledge that a certain degree of transection may still occur, potentially affecting the success rate of hair growth in the transplanted area.
5. Numbness or Sensation Changes: Temporary numbness or altered sensation in the donor or recipient areas is a potential risk of FUE. This occurs due to the disruption of nerve endings during the procedure. Sensation typically returns gradually over time as the nerves regenerate.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) has revolutionized the field of hair transplantation, offering patients a minimally invasive and effective solution for hair loss. While FUE carries some risks, they are generally rare and can be minimized with proper surgical techniques and adherence to post-operative care instructions. By understanding the potential risks and benefits associated with FUE, individuals considering this procedure can make informed decisions and take appropriate steps to maximize the likelihood of successful outcomes. Consultation with a qualified hair transplant doctor is crucial to address any concerns, discuss individual risks, and determine the suitability of FUE for each patient’s specific needs.
What are the post-operation care from FUE?
After undergoing a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair transplantation procedure, proper post-operative care is crucial for optimal healing and successful results. This comprehensive guide will outline the essential steps and expectations during the post-operative phase, ensuring that patients are well-informed and can actively participate in their recovery process.
1. Immediate Post-Operative Care: Following the FUE procedure, it is important to take note of the following:
a. Gauze and Bandages: The surgical team will likely apply gauze pads or bandages to the donor and recipient areas to absorb any minor bleeding. These should be left undisturbed for the first 24 to 48 hours unless instructed otherwise by the doctor.
b. Medications: The doctor will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and may also recommend pain medication to manage any discomfort during the initial recovery period. It is essential to follow the prescribed dosage instructions carefully.
c. Washing Instructions: The doctor will provide specific instructions on when and how to start washing the scalp. Typically, this begins after the first 24 to 48 hours. Gentle washing with a mild shampoo and water is advised to keep the recipient and donor areas clean.
d. Avoiding Physical Activities: Strenuous activities, including heavy lifting, intense workouts, or activities that increase blood flow to the scalp, should be avoided for at least a week following the procedure. It is essential to allow the transplanted hair follicles to settle and minimize the risk of dislodging or damaging them.
2. Long-Term Post-Operative Care: Beyond the immediate recovery period, there are additional considerations for the long-term post-operative care after FUE:
a. Medication and Supplements: The doctor may prescribe specific medications or supplements, such as finasteride or minoxidil, to support hair growth and maintain the existing hair. It is important to adhere to the prescribed regimen and follow-up with the doctor regarding any concerns or side effects.
b. Protecting the Scalp: Direct sunlight, harsh weather conditions, and excessive sweating should be avoided during the initial weeks after the procedure. If necessary, a hat or sunscreen with a high SPF should be used to protect the scalp from UV radiation.
c. Gentle Hair Care: For the first few weeks, it is crucial to handle the transplanted hair follicles with care. Avoid excessive combing, brushing, or pulling on the hair. The doctor may provide specific instructions on when and how to resume regular hair care practices, such as styling and trimming.
d. Follow-Up Appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with the doctor are essential to monitor the progress of hair growth, evaluate the healing process, and address any concerns or questions. The doctor may recommend specific timelines for follow-up visits, which may vary depending on individual healing patterns.
e. Managing Expectations: It is important to note that hair growth after FUE is a gradual process. Initially, the transplanted hair may shed before entering a dormant phase. New hair growth typically starts within a few months, with noticeable improvement over the following months. However, full results can take up to a year or more to become apparent.
Hair transplant is a safe and effective method to restore hair loss. Come by The Clifford Clinic to have a consult with one of our doctors!