What is FUE?
Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) is a method of excising or removing the donor hair for the purpose of hair transplantation. In FUE, various instruments are used to extract the grafts from manual hand-held devices and electrical rotary instruments. In some practices, automated robotic devices are used but Dr. Gabel avoids the use of robotic devices, preferring not to delegate the delicate process to machines. The FUE method differs from the strip method because FUE excision sites heal in a random pattern of circular scars, which is easier to hide in patients who prefer to keep their hair very short. Currently, Dr. Gabel utilizes a variety of instruments and tailors all efforts around maximizing the survivability of the transplanted hairs.
Who is a Candidate for FUE?
Since FUE does not leave a linear scar, this procedure may be more appropriate for patients who want to cut their hair very short in the donor area. It can also be ideal for patients who have had prior strip procedures but no longer possess the scalp laxity to harvest more hair with an additional strip. It also allows the surgeon to harvest hair from other areas of the body such as the beard or chest. Lastly, in those patients who have had prior surgery, they may have enlarged scars in the donor area, which can be camouflaged by strategic placement of FUE grafts into the scar tissue.
What Happens During an FUE Procedure?
During FUE, the donor area of the scalp is trimmed to 2-3 mm in length. Utilizing high-powered magnifying loupes, Dr. Gabel is able to visualize the exact angle and direction that the hairs exit the scalp. Small, sharp circular punches are used to make a round incision in the skin around the follicular unit, separating it from the surrounding tissue. The follicular unit graft is then extracted or harvested from the scalp, leaving a small opening, which heals relatively quickly. This process is repeated until Dr. Gabel has harvested enough follicular unit grafts to complete the size of the planned procedure.
Depending upon the size of the graft, Dr. Gabel will use an FUE punch ranging from 0.8 mm to 1.2 mm to harvest the grafts. After the incision is made, the grafts are gently removed and examined under the microscope to verify the quality of the extraction and remove any excess skin. The grafts are then placed into the slits with micro-forceps.
Follicular Unit Excision requires a highly skilled and experienced surgeon in order to perform the technique successfully (another reason Dr. Gabel refuses to delegate to robotic devices). Each graft must be extracted in the center of a very small 1.0 mm punch to avoid transecting and damaging the graft. Dr. Gabel is the most experienced surgeon practicing FUE in the Pacific Northwest, and he has been performing the procedure since 2004 when the FUE method was still in its infancy.
What is FUE Recovery Like?
You can return home immediately after the transplantation procedure, although you should be sure to get plenty of rest. You’ll be given care instructions to follow including protecting your scalp from sun damage, sleeping in the right position, and washing your hair accordingly. Most patients can return to their normal schedules within a few days, but you should expect to wear your hair short in the back for at least two weeks since the donor area will be trimmed very short.
It’s important to be patient with your results. Most patients begin to see new hair growth within about three to four months with visible results beginning to emerge after six months.
Although most patients enjoy long-term results with FUE, it’s important to discuss your options to maintain new hair growth with options like medications, platelet-rich plasma treatments, and laser therapies. Combined with FUE, this treatment approach can produce comprehensive, resilient results.
Schedule a Consultation
FUE is an excellent way to restore your natural hair using the best in surgical techniques. With transformative results, you can enjoy a restored hairline and restored confidence. If you’re interested to learn more, the best way to discuss your options is by meeting with Dr. Gabel and our experienced team. To schedule a consultation at our Portland office, we invite you to contact us by calling or filling out our online form.