There are several hair transplant methods doctors can perform. The “strip” method or FUT (follicular unit transplantation) is the most commonly performed method. The FUE (follicular unit extraction) method, a minimally invasive method of hair transplantation introduced in the late 90’s, and the automated FUE method, the newest most advanced method of hair transplantation available today.
The “strip” method or FUT is a surgically invasive procedure. With the “strip” method, the hair at the back of scalp is cut short. That section of scalp is surgically excised. The wound created by the incision is then stitched up or stapled together. Next, the excised portion of the scalp is divided up and placed under several microscopes where technicians using sharp blades separate grafts into units of one to four hairs. While the technicians are separating the grafts, the physician creates the hairline and recipient sites using a needle or a specific blade. Once the recipient sites are created, the grafts are then placed into the sites using forceps. The grafts with a single hair are placed in the front for a more natural hairline. The rest are placed behind to give the recipient area density.
From a surgical standpoint, an FUE hair transplant is a very safe, minimally invasive, relatively minor procedure. With the FUE method there is no need to excise a piece of the scalp because the follicles are removed directly from the donor area using a tiny 1 mm punch (punch sizes vary) and forceps. The punch is manually rotated to make a small circular incision in the skin around the follicular unit (hair follicles), which is then removed directly from the scalp using forceps. After the appropriate number of units has been removed, technicians separate the grafts into units of one to four hairs and these grafts are implanted much the same way as the “strip” method. With the FUE method there is little bleeding and fewer complications than with the “strip” method. The procedure is performed with local anesthetic and no intravenous or intra-muscular sedation is required.
The benefits of the FUE method is minimal discomfort, no scalpel incision, no sutures, no linear scar, little to no risk of complications, quick recovery time, fewer activity limitations and a more natural looking result than traditional strip methods (patients can wear their hair short without an unsightly scar).
Unlike most practices where a team of unlicensed technicians sort and place the hair grafts, Dr. Vories inserts each hair graft with the Hans Implanter which improves speed and protects the graft from physical damage while being implanted.
An FUE hair transplant is the most beneficial for the patient; however the majority of hair restoration doctors do not offer the FUE procedure because there are some nuisances associated with an FUE hair transplant. First, doing FUE is very tedious and time consuming, making the procedure too costly for most patients. Next, it is difficult to learn the FUE procedure and unless the doctor becomes very skilled there is a risk for a high transection (damage) rate of the follicles.
In Dr. Vories practice he makes the tiny incisions to remove the follicular units using a mechanized device that powers a 1mm or smaller circular scalpel that encircles the hair follicles. He then manually extracts each follicular unit to minimize traction or transection of the hair follicles. Each hair graft is then placed in a chilling saline solution until it is re-implanted to assure maximum graft survival.
Once the hair grafts have been harvested from the donor area Dr. Vories uses a Han Implanter to insert each follicular unit. The implanter helps protect the follicular unit during the implantation and aides the physician in maintaining the proper growth angle as the grafts are placed.
Below is a progress video from our largest FUE hair transplant patient – 19 weeks after his procedure.
The hair restoration patient also needs to understand how important choosing the right surgeon remains. Final hairline design results are dependent upon the skill and artistic abilities of the surgeon performing the procedure. Hair transplant procedures encompass both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. These artistic skills and abilities can often be qualified by researching the results of other surgical and reconstructive procedures these surgeons do on the face and head.
It’s important to do your homework and pick a surgeon that is uniquely qualified to handle your hair restoration needs.
FUE is also a useful procedure to fix visible linear scars from previous “strip” surgeries. FUE can be used to ‘fill in’ or camouflage those old scars by transplanting new follicles into the area.