Surgical hair restoration is a field of medicine that is constantly evolving as the result of physicians constantly seeking to meet the needs of their patients. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a method of obtaining donor hair for Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) procedures and one of those innovations that has been developed to give an alternative harvesting technique for patients who are looking for an option other than the traditional gold standard single strip method. Patients who are concerned about having a linear scar, who want to wear their hair very short or whose scalp is too tight for strip harvesting, are typically good candidates for FUE procedures. These are the patients that physicians had in mind when they were developing FUE as viable option and alternative.
Unlike the strip method in which only the precise donor strip is shaved and a linear incision made with the grafts being microscopically dissected from that strip, FUE requires that the entire donor zone be shaved and the follicular units are extracted directly from the scalp, one follicular unit at a time, which is a time and labor intensive process. The follicular units are taken from the known donor area by using a .8mm to 1mm punch, making a circular incision around the top of the follicular units and removing the follicular units directly from the scalp. Once the donor hair is harvested, the recipient sites are created by your surgeon and the grafts are placed with the proper angle and direction by the hair surgery technicians, as is with all follicular unit transplantation procedures. Due to the extended length of time required to properly extract the follicular units, time for recipient site creation and graft placement may be proportionately decreased. This may shift the surgeon’s time and focus away from planning and designing recipient sites (the artistic component) to the donor area and the mechanical extraction of the follicular units unless the sessions are kept small or are done over several days in succession.