Follicular Unit Extraction
Follicular unit extraction (FUE), also known as follicular transfer (FT), is one of two primary methods of obtaining follicular units, naturally occurring groups of one to four hairs, for hair transplantation
Hair transplantation
Hair transplantation is a surgical technique that involves moving individual hair follicles from one part of the body to bald or balding parts . It is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness. It this case, grafts containing hair follicles that are genetically resistant to balding are...

. The other method is called strip harvesting. In FUE harvesting, individual follicular units are extracted directly from the hair restoration patient's donor area, ideally one at a time. This differs from strip-harvesting because, in strip harvesting, a strip of skin is removed from the patient and then dissected into many individual follicular units. The follicular units obtained by either method are the basic building blocks of follicular unit transplantation
Follicular unit transplantation
Follicular Unit Transplantation is a hair restoration technique where a patient's hair is transplanted in naturally occurring groups of 1 to 4 hairs, called follicular units. Follicular units also contain sebaceous glands, nerves, a small muscle, and occasional fine vellus hairs...


History and research

Follicular unit extraction (FUE) was first described by Masumi Inaba in Japan in 1988 who introduced the use of a 1-mm needle for extracting follicular units. The next successor of the studies of hair transplantation in 1959 was Dr. Orentrik from New York. He used to work punch with which he cut the graft from the donor area and transferred it into a zone of alopecia. Punch this size was chosen as the best option for large amounts of hair transplantation, without subsequent loss of grafts due to lack of blood supply to the heart. Although punch and was optimal, the amount of hair on a graft was - 15 - 20. Research into it was conducted throughout the 1990s. In 2002 it was first described in the medical literature by William R. Rassman and Robert M. Bernstein in their publication “Follicular Unit Extraction: Minimally Invasive Surgery for Hair Transplantation.”Robotic FUE devices were discussed at the 2007 meeting of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery
International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery is a non-profit medical association of over 800 hair restoration doctors. It was founded in 1993 as a voluntary organization to advance the art and science of hair restoration...

 (ISHRS), and research in robotic devices was presented by Dr. Miquen G. Canales and Dr. David Berman at the 2008 meeting of the ISHRS.Research was conducted by Restoration Robotics in Mountain View, California
Mountain View, California
-Downtown:Mountain View has a pedestrian-friendly downtown centered on Castro Street. The downtown area consists of the seven blocks of Castro Street from the Downtown Mountain View Station transit center in the north to the intersection with El Camino Real in the south...

 and the Berman Skin Institute in Palo Alto and found that follicles could be removed individually at a rate of up to 1000 per hour through the use of 1-mm hollow needles. Despite showing evidence of improvements in the transection rate versus the prior year's discussion, the findings suggested that transection at a rate of 6-15% was not low enough for general use in hair restoration procedures.

There are still extremely few surgeons and practices which have mastered Follicular unit extraction because the procedure takes considerable time and expense to learn and to develop skills to a high standard.As of 2011, The Harley Street Hair Clinic in Westminster, London is the only hair loss clinic in the United Kingdom that specialises in follicular transfer (FT).It has served some notable celebrities such as Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney
Wayne Mark Rooney is an English footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League club Manchester United and the England national team...


Follicular unit survival

The survival of follicular units upon extraction from the scalp is one of the key variables of successful hair transplantation. If follicular units are transected in the extraction process, there is a greater likelihood that they will not survive the transplant, and the hair transplant will fail. While FUT procures using strip-harvesting of follicular units typically guarantees a large number of non-transected follicular units, FUE procedures can, and often do, transect grafts, rendering them useless in a transplant. Significant efforts have been made to reduce the rate of transection in FUE procedures. The skill of the surgeon and his/her team, and the type of instrumentation used, are major factors in the ultimate yield and viability of the follicular units.


FUE harvesting of grafts causes "pit" scarring; small, round, and typically white scars; in the patient's donor area where the grafts have been removed. FUE scarring differs from scarring from strip harvesting in that the latter procedure produces a linear scar in the donor area where the strip of skin was removed. Both the pit scarring from FUE and linear scar from strip harvesting are often hard to detect when hair in the donor area is at a normal length and the extraction is performed by a skilled surgeon. While the outcome of the healing process, and thus the appearance of scar tissue, depends on several variables; including the type of extraction, the skill of the surgeon, and, in strip harvesting, the method of wound closure; in both FUE and FUT, short cropped hair or a shaved head will typically reveal some scarring.

Comparisons with Follicular unit transplantation

Follicular unit extraction generally has a quicker patient recovery time and significantly lower post-operative discomfort than follicular unit transplantation
Follicular unit transplantation
Follicular Unit Transplantation is a hair restoration technique where a patient's hair is transplanted in naturally occurring groups of 1 to 4 hairs, called follicular units. Follicular units also contain sebaceous glands, nerves, a small muscle, and occasional fine vellus hairs...

(FUT). FUE provides an alternative to FUT when the scalp is too tight for a strip excision and enables a hair transplant surgeon to harvest finer hair from the nape of the neck to be used at the hairline or for eyebrows.

However, with FUE, the follicles are harvested from a much greater area of the donor zone compared to FUT, estaimated to be eight times greater than that of traditional strip excision so requires patients to have hairs trimmed in a much larger donor area. As a result, the hair in the lower and upper parts of the donor area, where the grafts were taken from, may thin and this can make the donor scars visible. Follicles harvested from borderline areas of the donor region may not be truly “permanent,” so that over time, the transplanted hair may be lost.Maximum follicular unit graft yield is lower than with FUT and may result in greater follicular transection (damage). Due to the scarring and distortion of the donor scalp from FUE it makes subsequent sessions more difficult, and grafts are more fragile and subject to trauma during placing, since they often lack the protective dermis and fat of microscopically dissected grafts, ultimately which may result in poor growth. A problem of buried grafts can occur during the blunt phase of the three-step technique when the graft is pushed into fat and must be removed through a small incision. FUE can also more expensive and take longer to perform than FUT, so grafts are usually out of the body longer, risking sub-optimal growth.

External links

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