During the forty years that The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research has been helping men and women who are suffering from hair loss, treatments have evolved a great deal. Back in the 1970’s, there were few viable choices outside of hair transplant surgery, and even that tended to produce less than optimal results. Today, however, we understand that hair loss can be the result of a variety of different causes, and researchers like Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis have developed many options to address them. Medications, like minoxidil or finasteride, and advanced, non-surgical treatments like Red Light Laser Therapy or Platelet Rich Plasma can do a great deal to prevent hair loss and even to regrow new hair, but many patients still find that they get the best results from surgical hair transplantation procedures. One of the techniques that we use during hair transplantation at The Griffin Center is called follicular unit extraction, or FUE. Here are the basic facts you need to know about this extremely versatile and effective process.
The hair transplantation process involves several stages, and the first stage requires the removal of healthy, growing hair follicles from a donor area (usually on the back or side of the scalp, where follicles are unaffected by genetic pattern hair loss) so that they can be transplanted into areas of the scalp where the hair has started to thin. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) techniques accomplish this by using precision instruments to make tiny, circular incisions around individual clusters of hair follicles, or follicular units, so that they can be removed, one at a time, from the scalp. This process is repeated until enough follicular units have been harvested to cover the necessary area. The wounds that are left behind, which measure approximately 1-mm in size, completely heal over the course of several days, leaving tiny white scars buried and hidden in the hair in the back and sides of the scalp.
Originally, Follicular Unit Extraction was performed using specially prepared surgical instruments to make the necessary incisions. However, this process was extremely laborious, often requiring several hours to harvest even a relatively small number of potential grafts and further subjecting those grafts to potential damage when they were removed with surgical forceps. At The Griffin Center, we frequently use the advanced NeoGraft® device, which uses controlled air pressure to slide the graft out smoothly, without the pulling or twisting motions that can damage the graft prior to transplantation. Because NeoGraft® allows Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to perform the extractions faster and the device holds the follicular units in a chamber to prevent them from drying out, the grafts remain fresh and vital, increasing the probability that they will take hold and thrive.
The patients that gravitate towards follicular unit extraction procedures are generally those who have extremely fine hair that has been cut close to the scalp, as they often find that the tiny circular scars left behind by FUE techniques are less noticeable than the single linear scar that results from more traditional follicular unit grafting. Because FUE techniques tend to be more time-consuming and costly, they are usually best suited to patients who are only in need of a relatively small number of grafts. No transplant procedure is truly “scar-less,” however, and most important thing to remember is that it is the surgeon’s skill and experience, along with the patient’s diligence in following after-care instructions, that determine how visible any scars will be and ultimately how seamless and natural-looking the final results will be.
Ultimately, every patient is unique and needs to be evaluated carefully by a doctor with experience treating the various forms of hair loss in order to determine what options are best for their particular case. If you have concerns that you may be suffering from hair loss, and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Edmond Griffin or Dr. Ashley Curtis to help understand your options, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news in hair restoration and research.