FUE Hair Transplants
The hair transplant industry is growing. There are more and more clinics available globally that provide new services such as the Follicular unit transplant (FUT) and Follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplants.
The thinning of hair and hair loss are a normal part of the aging process. It affects both men and women. However, hair loss or alopecia can also occur due to a medical condition or medication side effects.
Losing hair may be detrimental to one’s mental state, and therefore hair loss products and clinics are deemed essential. One of the most common and up-and-coming methods is the FUE hair transplant, which we will explain all about.
What Is FUE?
Follicular unit extractions, or FUE for short, is a hair transplant procedure. The surgeon would take hair follicles in one part of your body, otherwise known as the donor area, and implant them into your scalp, helping the hair grow thicker.
FUE transplants, being one of several modern hair transplant methods available today, was invented as a method in 1989 by Dr. Ray Woods and later implemented in practice in 2002. The procedure is now available in all western countries including The UK and Turkey,
The FUE procedure will just like the alternative FUT, help to recover hairlines, thicken parts of your scalp, and cover up hair loss areas. The main diffirence between the FUE and FUT procedures is the method of extracting the hair follicles. In FUE, small number of hairs are individually extracted by punching a needle, whilst the FUT method extracts an entire strip of the scalp for transplanting. The extracted strip of donor hair in the FUT method usually creates a scar on the donor area, which the FUE method does not.
The instrument used by the surgeon by punching the donor hair follicles is no more than one millimeter in diameter, and therefore the procedure is minimal pain-inducing. The surgury is carried out under local anesthetic in order to numb the area. This means that you will be able to chat with your surgeon as they carry out the procedure.
Hair transplants can be carried out by any medically trained physician. All surgical trainees and doctors have the capacity to carry out minor procedures, which hair transplants count as. However, being able to carry out the procedure, and executing the procedure to a high standard are two very different things.
Procedure and Timeline
Every procedure needs to follow a certain number of steps to ensure efficacy is reached. Hair transplant procedures such as FUE are no exception. Below you’ll find an outline of the procedure from day one to the after-care required.
Stage One – Consultation
- Consult with your physician
- Assess your suitability for the follicular unit extraction
- Discuss from where the graft will be obtained
- Discuss risks of the procedure
- Set a date for the procedure
Stage Two – Graft Extraction
- Using a specialized tool, the surgeon will begin the graft extraction
- You will be numbed before the procedure using local anesthetic
- The advanced FUE technique will leave you with fewer scars than traditional methods
Stage Three – Graft Preservation
- The grafts are preserved
- This process takes time and preserves each follicle
- The grafts are placed in a sterile plasma solution
- They are then refrigerated until the graft replacement is to take place
Stage Four – Graft Implantation
- Once a suitable number of donor follicles are grafted, your physician will begin the implant process
- Using a specialized tool they will carefully implant individual grafts
Stage Five – Post-op Care
- You will be given certain after-care procedures to follow after the follicular unit extraction
- These include washing the area, drying it properly, and using an appropriate shampoo
- You will be given a leaflet about the side effects and how to treat each one
- Make sure to avoid wearing hats or combing your hair until given the OK by the doctor
- When to come back to the clinic in case of complication
The entire FUE hair transplant procedure takes around 2-4 hours. This all depends on the number of grafts needed for the targetted area. Recovery varies between individuals, and most will notice a difference after 3-4 months.
Pricing and cost for FUE transplants
Most insurances do not cover the costs of hair transplants, and the procedures is typically not covered under the NHS. Therefore the procedures, a FUE transplant may cause a dent in your budget.
The charge of a procedure is usually broken down in cost per graft. In the UK, clinic such as Harley street clinic offer prices starting at around £3.99 per graft / 500 grafts max (total of £1,999) for smaller areas and up to £2.11 per graft / 3,500 grafts max (total of £7,399) for larger areas.
In Turkey, however, the cost is less. It averages at around £0.9 per graft with the range going up to £2 per graft for more complex procedures. As you can see, this price is considerably cheaper than that of the UK.
Below you’ll find a table comparing prices in Turkey, the USA, and the UK.
The costs don’t stop at the procedure however. You must also take into account travel and hotel expenses in the case of a transplant abroad. As the majority of the cheap clinics are usually based in Turkey or South East Asia, you should be expected to pay around £400-700 for return flights and an added £200-400 for accommodation for a few hotel nights.
Another added expense to the hair transplant journey is sick leave. You will be expected to rest for around a week after the surgery. With added days to include travel times, an average of around two weeks of sick leave may contribute to the total cost of treatment.
Can The FUE Procedure Be Done For All Causes Of Hairloss?
Hair transplants using the follicular unit extraction method can be done at any part of the scalp, given that the donor area has suitably thick hair.
Androgenic alopecia is one of the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women. Although medical treatment has been deemed successful in a few people, transplantation seems to have a better success rate. Hair transplantation can be used for multiple causes of hair loss, not only androgenic alopecia.
Both inherited and acquired causes of loss of facial hair, including, eyebrows, beards, and mustaches, can be treated using follicular unit extractions.
People often call for a beard transplant whenever their beard hair grows in patches, resulting in a sparse look. The process of FUE during this transplant is similar to that on the head but comes with complications:
- The properties of the sub-dermal tissue on the face make transplantation more difficult
- This process is usually more painful than that on the scalp
Moustache transplants go hand-in-hand with beard transplants usually but do also present as isolated cases.
FUE is usually carried out using hair from the back and the sides of the scalp. However, if the hair is too coarse, body hair transplants can be used. Although a relatively new procedure, there is a success rate of around 80%.
FUE Clinics In The United Kingdom vs Turkey
Many Brits – and europeans in general – travel to Turkey for a hair transplant because of the more attractive pricing for procedures in turkish clinics. The competence is very high, and some of the world’s leading hair transplant surgeons are situated in the major cities.
There has been some speculation as to why some people would opt to travel to Turkey for a transplant, assuming the cheaper price related to worse surgical outcomes. You should know, however, is that the cost of living in Turkey is much lower than that of the UK, and therefore corresponds to the lower cost of FUE surgery.
Until a few years ago, having a hair transplant in the UK seemed farfetched. But the market is slowly expanding and becoming more affordable. The prices of FUE procedures however are far too high compared to those of Turkey.
Follicular Unit Extractions vs Other Procedures
As we have learned, the FUE method is not the only hair transplant procedure around. There are a plethora of other choices which have been around before the days of FUE. But how do we know which one is best? Let’s discuss FUE’s alternatives in more detail.
FUE vs FUT
FUT, works in a similar way to FUE as they both involve placing grafts into small excisions on the scalp. The surgeon has to be very delicate with both procedures as they both require the use of tiny follicles. During FUT, the surgeon would excise an entire strip of skin from the donor area, and then extract the follicles. With FUE, the follicles are removed directly from the scalp.
FUT procedures are usually quicker than FUE, as the surgeon is able to take the follicles out in a more controlled area. There are a number of criteria that would make you a good candidate for FUT surgery, and these are:
- Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia)
- Age over 25
- Norwood pattern hair loss
- Front of head balding
Advantages For FUT:
- Better if you need a large graft number
- Shorter procedure
FUE vs DHI
The Direct Hair Implant (DHI) is a modified version of the FUE transplant. DHI works by using a specialized pen-shaped device, to both excise holes in your scalp and implant the grafts simultaneously.
Due to the fine instruments used during DHI, the time spent doing the procedure is considerably longer, and therefore the number of grafts used will be less. The length of the procedure does come with a few benefits, however, in comparison to the FUE method.
- Less time spent for grafts outside the body – minimize the failure rate
- Less trauma and blood drawn
- Faster recovery
- Hair shaving not required – ideal for females
- More symmetrical hairline produced
So, who can be a suitable candidate for a DHI procedure?
- Over 25 years old
- People with thicker hair
- Light hair color
- Hair density of higher than 40 follicles per cm2
FUE vs PRP
Platelet-rich plasma, otherwise known as PRP, is a substance taken from the blood and enriched with growth proteins of ‘factors. It is thought that injecting PRP into the donor area will help promote the growth and regeneration of affected follicles.
According to research, PRP has been used to treat androgenic alopecia in a simple and cost-effective manner. It has therefore been used in practice – but not yet approved by certain federal operations. The procedure uses the client’s own blood and therefore side effects are nonexistent.
The procedure costs £500 per session in the UK and around £250 per session in Turkey. The low cost and minimal trauma caused to the scalp make this an excellent option for those who do not want the risk of scarring from hair transplant surgery.
Risks and Considerations
Like any other procedure or surgery, FUE transplants come with their own risks. You and your doctor must take into account the side effects that can occur as a result of the procedure and what long-term effects it may have on you, both physically and mentally.
The first risk is scarification. It is a common misconception that FUE does not cause scars. This is not true. Any incision made to implant a graft will result in a scar, although too small to see, will still feel like a scar.
Another risk is the location from which the donor follicles are received. The areas of the scalp that contain the most follicles are also the areas most susceptible to hair loss in the future. If your doctor excises the follicles from the posterior occiput, you may have a bald patch in the future.
Furthermore, like with any incisions on the human body, those made in the scalp can still be prone to infection. It is, therefore, necessary to take the appropriate precautions to ensure a minimal infection risk.
The FUE transplant is an effective method of hair regeneration. It creates fewer visible scars in comparison to other methods but does come with slight limitations, as with any other surgical procedure. FUE still remains the procedure of choice for the majority of clinicians around the globe.
Recovery And Results
If you’ve undergone the FUE transplant, but what are you to expect for the future?
- By the end of the first week, you should be relieved of the discomforts caused by the trauma, such as scabbing, swelling, and itching.
- Two- to three weeks later, your transplanted hair should start falling off. This is normal.
- Two- to three months later. You will not notice a huge difference, but as long as you follow your doctor’s after-care advice, the follicles should be healthy.
- At approximately month four – you will finally get to see your transplanted hair grow anew. This is delicate hair however, so do not style or comb it yet.
- After one year since the surgery – you should expect complete growth, and you can start styling your hair to your neds.
If the FUE method is carried out accurately, you should be satisfied with your results. You will notice the biggest difference at around 8 months post-surgery. Do not hesitate to contact your clinician if you find any problems.