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Hair Transplant Surgery is a procedure in which hair is moved typically from the back and/or sides of the scalp where the hair is permanent (known as the donor area) to areas that are thinning or bald on the front, top or crown of the scalp (known as the recipient area). Once transplanted, the hair will continue to grow for a person’s lifetime.
The FUE Hair Transplant technique is the most modern and least invasive form of hair replacement surgery. The initials FUE stand for Follicular Unit Extraction. This method of hair transplantation represents a significant improvement upon the older strip method, known by the initials FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation). FUE Follicular Unit Extraction is a very efficient form of Hair Replacement as none of the hairs that are extracted are wasted and the patient benefits from a surgical method that is the least invasive.
In addition to standard FUE Hair Transplant Surgery, we are also able to provide Micro-FUE surgery, a pain-free advanced non-invasive technique that produces totally natural undetectable results, and achieves the maximum hair density possible per session with no scarring.
Who can benefit from FUE Hair Transplant Surgery?
FUE and Micro-FUE Hair Transplant Surgery is suitable for men and women who have the following indications:
- Sufficient hair loss to affect the way they look at the present moment of time
- Those who initially opted for medical therapy but have been unresponsive to it
- Those who want to wear their hair very short following surgery, since there is no linear scarring
- Those who need to resume very strenuous activities very soon following the procedure
- Those who have healed poorly from traditional strip harvesting (FUT), have a very tight scalp, or who want to camouflage a linear donor scar created by a prior hair transplant procedure
- Those who have suffered trauma to the scalp or undergone neurosurgical procedures
- Realistic expectations on what a transplant can accomplish
- Enough donor hair to satisfy current and future needs
A further advantage of FUE Hair Transplantation is that the surgeon can potentially transplant hair taken from parts of the body other than the donor scalp, such as the beard or trunk. However this process does have many limitations.
Before the FUE Procedure
Patients who are taking blood thinners (such as Coumadin and Heparin) or broad beta-blockers (such as Inderal or Propranadol) should inform their consultant immediately, since such medication might be a contra-indication to surgery.
6 weeks prior to surgery, patients who are smokers must stop smoking. Smoking can result in poor wound healing following a hair transplant and can increase the chance of infection and scarring. Smoking may also contribute to poor hair growth. If necessary, smoking can be resumed 6 weeks following surgery.
1 week prior to surgery, any Vitamin B or E supplements that are being taken should be stopped, including any multi-vitamins that include these.
Aspirin and any other anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) should also be stopped at this time. These include Advil, AlkaSeltzer, Bufferin, Excedrin, Empirin, Nu-Prin, Motrin, Ibuprofen, and similar. They can be resumed along with any vitamin supplements 3 days following surgery.
The consumption of all alcoholic beverages should be stopped at least 3 days prior to surgery and not resumed until 1 week following the procedure.
The FUE Hair Transplant Procedure
FUE hair transplantation involves removing healthy hair follicles directly from a donor area, typically on the scalp, at the back of the head where the hair is plentiful, and grafting them onto the bald or thinning areas.
The donor site will first of all be shaved, leaving short hairs from 1 to 1.5 mm in length. This area is then treated with a local anaesthetic.
The follicle extraction (known as “harvesting”) is then carried out using a specialised punch device, ranging in diameter from 0.6mm – 0.9mm to extract follicular units complete with neccessary glands. This device seperates surrounding tissue from the unit, resulting in minimum trauma and better results, as well as avoiding detectable scarring.
When the grafts have been harvested, tiny recipient sites are then prepared in the balding area of the scalp using a fine needle-point instrument.
The follicular units are then transplanted into the recipient sites one unit at a time, where they will grow into healthy hair-producing follicles. Transplantation of all the vital elements of each hair follicle results in a better survival rate and better growth. The entire treatment is performed under a high-powered microscope allowing the surgeon to work with the utmost precision for natural-looking, undetectable results.
The procedure can take anywhere from a couple hours to extract 200 grafts for a scar correction to an extended surgery undertaken over two consecutive days for transplanting 2,500 to 3,000 grafts. Your surgeon will provide an estimate of the likely total time required in each individual case at consultation.
Following the FUE Procedure
Rest is important following the procedure and patients should eat light, non-salty food, and drink plenty of water. Initially some slight pain may be felt at the donor site, and painkillers will be provided to combat this. The bandage will be removed on the first day following surgery, and a special hair washing technique employing baby shampoo will be demonstrated at the clinic. Following washing, Fucidin cream will be applied to the donor area, and the same steps should be repeated morning and evening during the first 5 days.
For the first 3 nights following surgery, in order to minimise swelling, patients should sleep with 2-3 pillows behind their shoulders so as to maintain the head at an angle of about 45°, and also not sleep face-down for the first 5 nights. Lying down except for the purpose of sleep should also be avoided during this period.
Starting from the day of surgery, a cap should be worn for at least 3 months to protect the vulnerable recipient area from the sun. However this should be limited to when getting around in public and not worn for many hours at a time unless outside. And for the first 10 days, extra care should be taken to avoid the head being hit when stepping in or out of cars and opening cupboard doors.
For between 1 and 5 days following surgery an icepack can be applied to the untransplanted area of the forehead for 5-10 minutes, repeating this throughout the day as needed.
Detailed pre-treatment and post-treatment instructions will be provided to our patients prior to their surgery.
Risks & Complications of FUE Hair Transplant Surgery
Whilst FUE Hair Transplant Surgery is generally very safe, and in the majority of hair transplantation procedures there are no complications. it should be understood and accepted by all patients that no surgical procedure is totally risk-free, and a number of side effects, risks, and complications, whilst very rare, can occasionally occur.
For information about the potential risks and complications associated with FUE Hair Transplantation, please refer to Risks and Complications of Hair Transplantation. At your consultation, your surgeon will discuss these risks with you.
Results of FUE Hair Transplant Surgery
During the first few weeks, virtually all of the transplanted hairs, inevitably traumatized by their relocation, will fall out. This is referred to as “shock loss”. After two to three months new hair will begin to grow from the moved follicles at the typical rate of 1cm per month. The patient’s hair will grow normally and continue to thicken through the next six to ten months, after which period there will be an approximate 90% permanent uptake (noting that 10% of hair follicles are always in a “resting” phase and so will not grow). Any subsequent hair loss is likely to be only from untreated areas. Some patients elect to use medications to retard such loss, while others will plan a follow-on transplant procedure to deal with this eventuality.
FUE Hair Transplant Surgery is a highly effective technique resulting in healthy, natural looking hair. However the final result will be influenced by a patient’s genetics, lifestyle, balding pattern and the progression of hair loss.
Dependent upon the nature of the hair loss in individual patients, it will sometimes also be advantageous to combine FUE surgery with supplementary treatments such as PRP therapy, Minoxidil and other medical treatments.