What is hair transplant? What is the difference between FUE and FUT?
Hair transplant is used to treat baldness or hair loss. It restores areas of bald patches. It involves moving hair follicles from a donor area, often the back or sides of the scalp, to the recipient area, usually the portion of the scalp that is balding or thinning. In their new place, the transplanted hair follicles will take root and grow into new hair at the areas that were once bald.
There are two main techniques used in hair transplantation: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
1. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): With this technique, a tiny circular punch tool is used to remove each individual hair follicle from the donor area one at a time. The harvested follicles are implanted after the doctor makes a few very small punctures or incisions in the recipient area. Unlike FUT, FUE does not entail cutting a strip of scalp tissue, therefore there is no linear scar.
2. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT): Also referred to as the “strip method,” FUT entails slicing a strip of donor area scalp tissue. The strip is subsequently divided into individual follicular units. Then, tiny incisions are made to transplant these hair grafts into the recipient region.
In recent years, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) has gained popularity and is now considered the more popular technique for hair transplant in Singapore. This is mainly due to the following factors:
1. Scar Visibility: Unlike Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), FUE does not create a linear scar at the donor site. FUE is more appealing to patients who wish to maintain their hair short or participate in activities that could expose the donor area because there is no discernible scar.
2. Minimal Invasiveness: When compared to FUT, FUE is a less invasive technique. It uses a punch instrument to harvest individual hair follicles, causing minimal tissue stress and allowing for quicker healing process and less pain after surgery.
3. Technological Advancements: Thanks to technological developments, FUE is now more accurate and efficient. These tools aid in the extraction process, making it easier for doctors to perform the procedure and achieve satisfactory results.
How is FUE performed?
1. Preparations: To ensure a favourable outcome, some crucial preparations must be performed prior to having a FUE operation. Among these preparations are:
2a. Consultation: During this appointment, the doctor will examine your hair loss pattern, your donor area (where hair follicles will be extracted from) and discuss your expectations and goals.
2b. Medical Evaluation: Your medical history will be reviewed, and a physical examination will be conducted to determine your suitability for the procedure. Blood tests will be done to ensure good health before operation and to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
2c. Designing the Hairline: The doctor will then work with you to determine the hairline desired that can suit your facial structure.
3. Step-by-Step Procedure: Once the necessary steps have been completed, the FUE procedure can start. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how it is usually done.
Step 1: Donor Area Preparation: The patient’s donor area, which is typically at the back or the head, is shaved to a short length. To ensure that the surgery is painless, local anaesthetic is used.
Step 2: Extraction of Follicular Units: The doctor harvests individual follicular units from the donor area using a specialized punch tool. Each follicular incision by the punch tool is small and precise, allowing for extraction with the least amount of damage to the surrounding tissues.
Step 3: Graft Preparation: Once the number of follicular units is harvested, they are 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: Small incisions are made in the recipient sites to take in the hair grafts. The sites are strategically created at certain angles and densities to ensure natural hair growth.
Step 5: Graft Placement: The hair grafts are inserted into the recipient area. It is a meticulous process that will take some time. The grafts are placed such that when they grow in the new area, it will still look natural.
What are the risks of FUE?
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a widely popular hair transplant technique known for its minimally invasive nature and impressive results. However, like any medical procedure, FUE is not without its risks. While advancements in technology and the expertise of skilled surgeons have significantly reduced the occurrence of complications, it is essential for individuals considering an FUE hair transplant to be aware of the potential risks involved.
While infection is relatively rare after an FUE hair transplant, it is still a potential risk. The procedure involves creating small incisions in both the donor and recipient areas, leaving the scalp vulnerable to bacterial exposure. A sterile environment during the surgery and proper post-operative care are essential to reduce the risk of infection.
As with any surgical procedure, some degree of bleeding may occur during an FUE hair transplant. Surgeons take precautions to minimize bleeding during the procedure. However, patients should follow post-operative care instructions, including avoiding activities that could increase blood flow to the scalp, to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding.
Shock loss is a temporary condition in which some of the transplanted and existing hair sheds after an FUE procedure. This phenomenon can be distressing for patients, but it is a natural part of the healing process. Most of the transplanted hairs will regrow within a few months, and existing hair will typically recover as well.
Numbness and Sensation Changes:
In some cases, patients may experience temporary or, rarely, permanent numbness or altered sensation in the donor or recipient areas after an FUE hair transplant. This occurs due to nerve damage during the procedure. While nerve-related issues are usually temporary, it is essential to discuss potential risks with the surgeon and report any persistent numbness or sensation changes.
Poor Hair Growth:
Although FUE is generally successful in producing natural hair growth, there is a risk of poor hair growth or the transplanted hairs not taking root. Several factors can contribute to this, including inadequate blood supply, improper placement of grafts, or underlying health issues.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a remarkable hair transplant procedure wit good success rates and minimal invasiveness. If you are considering an FUE hair transplant, have a comprehensive consultation with our doctors at The Clifford Clinic!