About Follicular Unit Extraction – FUE hair transplant.
FUE stands for Follicular Unit Extraction, a technique also variously known as FIT, CIT, FUSE, DHI and Woods techniques. This technique uses a microscopic punch to remove each individual hair graft, in the same way as an apple corer removes the core of an apple. FUE is a relatively new technique, and only really established itself in the early years of this century. It still has some way to go in its evolution. Like all things, it has advantages and disadvantages, sometimes depending on patient preference or characteristics. We performed our first FUE in 2003, shortly after discussing it with various doctors at the 2003 New York ISHRS conference. Both Dr Robert Jones and Dr Alan Feller were very helpful in particular.
An important point to make first is that FUE is a different extraction method for hair transplants but the technique of inserting the grafts is just the same – it doesn’t mean the grafts can be inserted any closer or that they grow any better. Neither is it a method of “hair cloning” nor is it invisible or “surgery free.” It is however, a very useful adjunct treatment which may be the best technique of hair transplantation for some patients but a waste of time and money for others.
In most cases, the donor area is just the same (although it is the method of choice for body hair HT). The scalp hair is usually shaved all over but it is possible sometimes just to shave small donor areas or to leave the recipient site long. The patient then usually lies face down on something similar to a massage couch and the scalp is numbed up. An FUE punch is used, either manually or by electric handle, to “score” around the hairs, to a specific depth (about 2mm) and angle. The hair is “plucked” out with forceps and then trimmed to a uniform size, prior to re implantation. The hair can be damaged by getting the angle, depth or “pull” wrong. This is why it is slow and expensive. Attempts to make “robotic” FUE so far are not more effective than a skilled human and doesn’t make it cheaper, although potentially a little faster.