There are two surgical techniques by which hair can be removed from a patient’s scalp, Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and Follicular unit extraction (FUE). Regardless of which technique is used to remove the hair, the method for transplanting each of the grafts is exactly the same.
When carrying out a hair transplant, the surgeon must ensure that the donor’s hair is only taken from the safe donor region. In a FUT transplant, a thin strip of hair is removed from the donor region. In an FUE transplant, each hair graft is removed from the donor region one by one, using a punch tool.
Both techniques form scars. FUT forms one linear scar, whereas FUE forms multiple circular scars, spread across a large area. Many clinics promote FUE over FUT. This is mainly due to the fact that a smaller team is needed to carry out this procedure. When carrying out in FUT procedure, a skilled consultant surgeon is required to complete the surgery to an acceptable standard, without putting the patient at risk.
However, both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. For patients undergoing a FUE procedure, in most cases, the entire scalp must be shaved in advance of the procedure. For patients undergoing an FUT procedure, only the strip of hair to be removed is trimmed, allowing patients to return to their normal lives much more quickly, without others being aware they have had a transplant.
As the FUE technique only allows a technician to take every second hair graft from the safe zone, the yield of grafts from the area is lower, with many clinics forced to go outside of this zone, which means as the patient ages, these transplanted hairs may thin and be lost.
It can also result in the circular scars outside of the donor region becoming visible as time passes. The survival rate of grafts in an FUE procedure is lower as the accuracy of the punch tool is lower than that of a technician using a microscope.
A FUT procedure requires a stitch to be used and the patient must return seven to ten days later to have this removed. In an FUE procedure, no stitches are needed. For patients that like to wear their hair very short, FUE may be the preferable option, as the scars resulting from the FUE procedure may be less noticeable in very short hair as they are more spread out.
At a later stage, should a patient decide to have a second or third hair transplant, with the FUT technique a skilled surgeon can go back and remove the linear scar from the first procedure, leaving the patient with still only one scar. This is not possible in an FUE procedure, where the surgeon will always create new additional scars.
A hair transplant surgeon should always assess the patient’s individual needs and advice on the best technique for each individual case. For smaller transplants and the transplantation of scars and eyebrows often the FUE technique is the preferable option.
Are you an ideal candidate for a hair transplant?
There are a lot of doctors who are in this lucrative business of hair transplantation simply for the money. Doctors need to get paid, so money is going to be a factor when it comes to your hair transplantation but there are a lot of unethical doctors who will do whatever it takes to get your business, even if it means that you may not be a good candidate for hair transplantation.
Who is the ideal candidate for a hair transplant?
1. Somebody who responds well to hair loss medication is a good candidate. This is because before you even consider getting a hair transplant you need to exhaust other non-surgical means such as trying out hair loss medication like Rogaine also known as minoxidil, finasteride, etc. Responding well to hair loss medication is very crucial and important because it is going to help you slow down and possibly reverse hair loss.
Hair transplant does not simply cure baldness, what it does is simply create an illusion of a full set of hair. So any region or area on the scalp that is not being treated through hair transplantation is still going to be prone to male pattern baldness. If you do not respond well to hair loss medication, you are most likely going to need multiple hair transfer procedures to catch-up with hair loss and will likely end up depleting your donor zone.
2. Another characteristic that makes you a good candidate is having a good healthy donor zone. Hair caliber is very important in identifying the best candidates for hair transplantation. The appearance of baldness is due to light penetrating past sparse or absent hair and then being reflected off the scalp. The thicker the hair that is in place to block the light, the less the appearance of baldness will be.
Many people think that having a thicker density is going to result in a successful hair transplant, that is partly true but it also depends on the thickness and a characteristic of each hair follicle. You can have a high-density hair transplant but if it is done using thin and weak hair you are still going to look like you are balding.
3. Good hair transplant candidates shouldn’t have severe hair loss especially not during their early years. Severe hair loss at a younger age means that a person is going to be more prone to hair loss as he or she ages versus somebody who has moderate hair loss at an older age. A person who has moderate hair loss in his mid-30s or 40s is more stable in terms of hair loss than somebody who has ignored signs at the age of 20.
A hair transplant can still be possible for somebody who has a more severe form of hair loss but they also have to have realistic goals and realize that a full set of hair may not be possible. Carefully establishing a long term plan with your doctor is crucial so that you make sure that you do not deplete your entire donor zone.
- This is pretty much common sense but you need to have deep pockets meaning you have to have money to be able to spend it on hair transplants. As a person continues to age, he is more likely to need multiple hair transplants over the years and hair transplantation has to be considered long term. It is very important that you ensure that you have enough money to see the process through. If you do not have the money to go all the way through, you can end up looking worse than you did before you started.
- Good hair transplant candidate needs to have realistic goals and expectations. Hair transplantation is a type of art, it creates an illusion of a full set of hair but you are never going to be able to achieve the same super-thick density you had as a teenager.
Candidates need to realize that one patient’s hair characteristic may provide them with a completely different cosmetic result compared to any other patient, even if they had similar graph counts. We all tend to compare our own situations and hair loss while they are from similar hair loss patterns and all hope for full density and amazing hairlines. But, although the prospective patient feels that they are similar does not necessarily mean that they are going to end up with the same results. This is where expectations need to be kept realistic.