Advancements in technology have led to an increasing number of both men and women undergoing hair transplant surgeries. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, hair surgeries have seen a worldwide increase of 10 percent in the past two years.
One thing that patients still struggle with is which technique that best suits their needs. Hair transplant surgeons have their preferred method, but there are two used commonly. Follicular unit micrografting (FUG/FUM) is the most common, while follicular unit extraction (FUE) is growing in popularity.
Hair Transplant Basics
The actual steps taken during a hair transplant surgery depend on the technique used. With any surgery, the patient receives oral sedation and local anesthesia. Once the patient is relaxed and the scalp is numb, the surgeon can harvest hair follicles from the side or back of the head.
These hair follicles are prepared and transplanted into tiny incisions on the scalp (called recipient sites) in the areas where the hair is being restored. Depending on the degree of hair loss and the number of grafts, it can take anywhere from three to eight hours to complete a procedure.
After a brief amount of time spent in recovery when the patient can relax, eat, and go over post-procedure instructions, the patient is able to head home. Some hair transplant surgeons have patients return to the office the next day to have the hair gently washed. Out of town patients can have dissolvable sutures so it is not necessary to return to have them removed. After a few weeks the implanted hair falls out, then in four to six months the hair starts to regrow. This regrowth occurs no different to other hairs in the scalp, so looks normal.
The FUG/FUM Technique
With the FUG/FUM technique, the hair restoration surgeon removes a strip of skin that is typically four to five inches in length. This strip which contains the hair follicles is then dissected under microscopic visualization into individual grafts. Each graft contains one to three, sometimes four hairs, the natural way that hairs grow in the scalp.
There are pluses and minuses to the FUG procedure. It is faster and more affordable than the FUE method. It also gives you the maximum follicle yield. On the downside, you will have a fine line scar on the side or back of your head. When you have a full head of hair, the hair hides that scar, but if you ever want to shave your head the scar will potentially be visible.
The FUE Technique
The FUE technique involves the extraction of individual follicular units using a punch-type device (either manual or power-driven). Because the doctor takes these tiny grafts out one at a time, the surgery is more time consuming and therefore more expensive, and usually requires shaving of the entire back and/or sides of the head.
There is no linear scars with this procedure, rather hundreds to thousands of tiny dot scars in the back and/or sides of the head that are usually not detectable, even when the patient decides to shave his head. Regrowth rates tend to be a bit less reliable with FUE than with FUG, but the benefit of not having a linear scar outweigh for many patients the downsides that include the higher cost and longer procedure time.
If you’re considering afacial hair transplant, watch The Basics of Hair Transplant Surgery. Dr. Jeffrey Epstein holds the distinction of being board certified in facial plastic surgery, hair restoration surgery, and otolaryngology.
The doctor is happy to discuss a hair transplant in his New York and Miami offices. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Epstein at the Foundation for Hair Restoration, call (212) 759-3484 in New York or (305) 666-1774 in Miami. Consults are also provided online.