Is FUE Hair Transplant Safe?
FUE hair transplant surgery’s increasing popularity begs the question: Is FUE the safest hair transplant? There are several approaches to hair restoration on the market, with follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT) leading as the most effective, permanent methods. Both approaches to hair surgery have their pros and cons related to preparation and after-care. However, FUE stands out in terms of efficiency, safety, and patient satisfaction.
Social media and popular culture seem to indicate that FUE is preferred as the trendiest choice among today’s candidates. We’ll tell you why and let you decide for yourself.
FUE hair transplant vs. FUT: How are they different?
When it comes to hair restoration, both FUT and FUE hair transplants are the most commonly used methods. FUT is also called the “strip method”. The reason why is the first part of the hair transplant. FUE and FUT provide tiny individual follicle units ready to be implanted. Both procedures are effective in restoring hair density and giving coverage to balding areas. The way follicles are excised and prepared differs between these methods, and sometimes that’s the primary motivation for choosing follicular unit extraction. Here we’ll look at why that might be the deciding factor for you too.
FUT (strip method) Process
Employing the FUT method, the hair transplant team will harvest the donor follicles from a strip of skin and hair excised from the scalp. This may be placed low on the back of the head or at the side if there is denser hair growth there. Small surgical staples are then used to close the incision. Then a 2-stage stereo microscopic dissection system is used to collect the tiny follicles from the strip. They can be single-hair grafts or contain 2 to 4 naturally grouped hairs growing together. Each little graft contains the full hair root and a small amount of surrounding tissue. Thousands of these grafts are made ready to be added to the recipient area through thin slits in the scalp.
With FUT, the length of the hair from the donor strip is trimmed. The surrounding hair can retain its original length. On the plus side, this allows the longer hair to camouflage the affected area until regrowth occurs. This is convenient for men who wear long hair or females who wear their hair longer. The patient can return to work without anyone even knowing that a hair transplant has occurred.
Comparatively, FUE hair transplants differ in that the donor follicles are extracted one by one using a precision rotary punch device. No long incisions are made in the scalp for this procedure. Instead, the individual grafts can be taken out of a broader donor area and dispersed among growing hairs, leaving only micro-incisions behind. The small extraction holes are less than 1 mm wide. The newest digitally assisted FUE hair transplant devices use elements of automation, smart technology, and an infrared system to align the punch tool with greater precision and accuracy. The latest FUE devices help reduce damaged hair follicles, scalp trauma, and unnecessary scarring.
While both methods are an improvement over the older plug systems of the ’60s, FUT is becoming outdated as well. In some cases, when hair loss is severe or thinning is diffused, the surgeon and the patient may decide that FUT is a practical choice. More often today, people who want to redistribute their growing hair to maximize its coverage and style will choose the nearly scarless approach of FUE. Hair transplants that leave no trace except for transformed, revitalized hair are the way of the future. People who wear their hair short especially prefer the minimal scalp trauma of FUE hair transplants.
Compared with the strip method, FUE hair transplant allows for faster incision closure and healing. When healing time is reduced, the typical risks of complication that come with this type of procedure are reduced too. FUE patients can have less chance of infection or bleeding and enjoy less inflammation or discomfort also. The time off required for FUT is often 2 weeks or more, whereas the recovery after an FUE hair transplant will require 5 days on average.
During both types of hair transplant, hair follicles are harvested from donor sites, generally at the back of the head or the sides where dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-resistant hair resides. For male patients especially, the pattern of progressive, genetic hair loss (androgenic alopecia) tends to leave hair in a band around the head virtually unchanged, while the crown and hairline thin. The follicles in bald areas have a sensitivity to DHT, which causes them to miniaturize, producing more fragile hair and eventually no hair.
Conversely, hair growing at the back and sides of the head has a natural resistance to miniaturizing hormones, and it stays in place for the life of the follicle. Those follicles carry their resilience with them, and that phenomenon is referred to as “donor dominance”. As long as the hair transplant team harvests hair from the DHT-resistant area, the transplanted hairs will deliver over 90% success and long-term growth in their new location.
No doubt you will see some beautiful results while pouring over FUE before and after pictures. However, those photos won’t tell you the whole story behind hair restoration. You should be aware that the client’s photos are usually taken months after the surgery was completed. It takes patience to get to the final result of FUE treatment, but in the end, it will be worth it.
The NeoGraft and SmartGraft systems for FUE that Dr. Torgerson’s hair transplant team uses are considered the gold standard in hair restoration. NeoGraft is one of the leading devices approved by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With its advanced technology, much of the NeoGraft FUE hair transplant can be completed without the potential error or fatigue of human hands. It’s a fully automated surgical device that uses pneumatic controls that are ergonomically designed to fit the hand comfortably. It permits the follicles to be removed and immediately transplanted into the donor site, reducing the time that the hairs are exposed to air and damage. With it, grafts can be harvested with ease, so that each precious one is preserved.
Because of the NeoGraft system’s precision, micro-incisions lead to less trauma, discomfort, swelling, and bleeding. This unique feature improves safety, as it can reduce the risk of infection and complications following surgery and reduce physical harm to each graft. Patients have been known to report less post-operative discomfort, which allows them to resume their busy schedules sooner than later. The number of hairs that “take” following FUE hair transplants is significant, which also contributes to it being the number one choice in hair transplant surgery.
Because of its less invasive nature, FUE’s quicker recovery is essential for clients who are competing in a competitive job market. Today hair transplant patients can return to work with minimal downtime. Without lengthy incisions and scars, the procedure is more discreet than ever as well.
While the precise technology and accuracy of FUE hair transplant have made it the safest method of hair restoration, the primary reason it’s the preferred choice is because of the lack of notable scarring after surgery.
For patients who prefer the FUE method, it should be noted that before surgery, the donor site must be trimmed very short or shaved in most cases. Shaving that part of the scalp will allow the hair transplant team full access to the area where follicles will be extracted. The placement of excisions will be randomized and diffused to ensure that scarring doesn’t appear obvious when the scalp is healed. While generally uncommon, scarring can occur, though it is minimal.
It’s helpful to visit the barber before your session and have your hair trimmed very short so that as your hair grows back in the treatment area, it won’t stand out.
Supply and demand drive the cost of many goods and services in an urban area, but by the same token, you may find that there’s more to choose from. Clinics that are well-established in large cities and known as high-end will have pricing commensurate with their top-shelf service and reputation. The experience of the surgeon and the geographic location often affect procedure prices.
To determine the cost of FUE in Toronto, fees are usually calculated on a per-graft basis. The number of grafts required to give you the desired appearance may range between 500 and 2,500, and they’ll cost from $4 to $6 each plus HST. (Prices are subject to change over time.)
Some patients may choose to have future hair restoration procedures, depending on their needs and preferences.
Call for your no-obligation consultation
Regarding FUE hair transplants with Dr. Cory Torgerson, his motto is, “Do the right thing at the right time.” He’ll be pleased to meet with you to plan a personalized restoration or other treatments that will benefit you. With 18 years of post-secondary education and extensive hair restoration expertise, Dr. Torgerson’s knowledge and experience contribute to lasting hair transplant results. You can avoid the unwanted cost of revision surgeries down the road by ensuring that you have the correct information to make an educated choice now. Call today and book your consultation.