Follicular Unit Extraction
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is the method of obtaining hair grafts directly and individually from the patient donor area. This process of collecting hair units was first introduced by Dr. Woods in Australia. It was further standardized by other hair transplant doctors such as Dr. Rassman and Dr. Bernstein in 2002.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is also called Follicular Isolation Technique (FIT). The advantage of FUE is that patients will not have a linear scar on the back of their head.
In FUE or FIT, we do not remove the strip of skin from the donor area. Patients will not have donor complications seen with the strip technique such as discomfort in donor area after surgery, the need for staple or suture removal and presence of linear scar.
FUE is the procedure of choice for people who want style their hair short in the back. It is also first choice for those who have previous healing problems with any scalp procedure. Not every patient is a good candidate for FUE procedure. We strongly advise testing every patients before planning to do an FUE procedure. This is done by using a FOX test.
FUE – Left: Receipent area immediately after surgery, Center: Donor area immediately after surgery with 1500 grafts, Right: 11 days after surgery, Donor area eleven days after a FUE hair transplant surgery. There is no obvious sign of hair transplant surgery and scars are not detectable.
Using different FUE techniques, we perform a few biopsies under local anesthesia and try to extract few follicular units with special biopsy devices. We examin the harvested grafts microscopically to make sure they are intact before proceding with a larger FUE or FIT session. The text is positive if we can remove intact follicular units without transecting them.
At US Hair Restoration, we continuously thrive to improve our techniques of hair restoration and provide better results for our patients. We performed an experiment on different motorized and manual techniques of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) in our Los Angeles hair transplant center in 2010. The result of our study was in favor of SAFE system in comparison to other commercially available techniques for FUE procedure. Since then we have been using SAFE System in most our FUE surgeries.
Powered SAFE System for FUE is a relatively new device for minimally invasive FUE procedures. SAFE system has been proven to have lesser transaction rate (cutting intact hair follicles below the skin level) so a higher yield of hair follicles could be expected from FUE transplants with SAFE method. SAFE hair restoration system uses a blunt rather than sharp punch which is used in most other FUE devices. Not having a sharp punch is an important factor that minimizes the damage to the hair follicles. Thus more intact follicular units are expected to be harvested in every hair transplant.
SAFE System has all of the advantages of a regular FUE procedure such as:
- No linear scar
- Minimal recovery time
- None or minimal post operative pain and discomfort
- Increased harvestable area: One important aspect of SAFE System is that it allows the operator to harvest from the areas of safe zone that were considered unusable in the past those are temples and the most-lateral areas of the permanent zone in which hair grows with an acute angle.
- Almost everyone with any hair characteristics could be a candidate for FUE with SAFE System. That includes many people with wavy hair who might have high transaction rate with other methods of FUE Transplantation.
- There is no need to perform a FOX test that is mandated in most other techniques to test the candidacy of a patient for FUE transplant.
- Speed of surgery is higher than many other methods of FUE hair restoration that makes doing surgeries with larger number of grafts in one session possible.
- There is less transaction so healthier, usable follicular unit grafts could be produced.
- SAFE system could be used in other parts of the body including facial hair and for body hair transplant as well.
Disadvantages of SAFE System
- Operator dependency: like other FUE methods SAFE System is very operator dependant and a great level of hand-eye coordination is crucial for optimal result.
- SAFE System does not offer a solution for extracting scored follicular units and they need to be manually extracted after they are initially scored with SAFE System.
- Time consumption: As other techniques of FUE, SAFE System is very time consuming and the surgeon has to be working for hours to harvest limited number of grafts as opposed to strip method in which Giga-sessions could be performed to transplant over 4000 grafts in one day.
SAFE System might be a better solution for many candidates of a hair transplant surgery. However, we all hair loss sufferers to consult with a hair transplant doctor who is skillful in both strip and FUE (with different methods). That way your candidacy for hair transplant could be determined and then your surgeon can discuss with you which procedure is right for you.