The FUE is the Follicular Unit Transplantation method of hair transplantation. This is a very popular modern method that is used to replace missing hair follicles in the scalp
The main idea behind the development of the FUE was to develop a technique that produced minimal to no visible scarring. This meant finding a way to extract small amounts of hair follicles and to also graft a few follicles at a time.
Most of the previous hair transplant methods had the disadvantage of cutting out strips from the scalp, which of course, meant leaving a fairly large visible scar on the scalp. This scar would become a problem for people who prefer having short hair since it would become obvious that work had been done. This was not as much of a concern if the person wore their hair long and quite thick.
The other problem with earlier methods was that the hair was grafted as plugs which looked almost doll-like. This was aesthetically not very pleasing as it also did not like natural or realistic. Having a fake-looking hairline for some men, may be worse than having no hair at all. The FUE was invented to overcome this issue by transplanting one to four follicles of hair at a time. To find out more information about the FUE technique you can click here.
The FUE uses micropunches that are very small instruments that are roughly between 0.6 and 0.8mm in size. This is because the idea is to remove the hair follicle as close as possible to the arrector pili muscle that it is attached to, which is a narrow zone of tissue.
The process takes more time than other methods such as the FUT or older procedures. It also needs to be done with a surgeon who is very precise and has a very good understanding of how the hair is attached to the scalp. The hair needs to be removed with great care so that it is not damaged during the extraction process. The more experienced FUE professionals are able to use the smaller size micropunches.
The individuals who developed the FUE, namely Bernstein and Rassman, also devised a method to determine if the FUE is the best technique for a particular individual. They invented the FOX test which is a way for a surgeon to evaluate how easily a follicle unit can be extracted from the scalp. They divided the FOX test into five levels or grades with the easiest and most amenable to the FUE technique being a person who was grade one on the FOX test.
They did find that about 75% of patients could easily undergo the procedure with little chance of hair follicles becoming damaged. For a few patients, though, it may not be the best choice because the follicle units are not tightly attached to the dermis and therefore are harder to extract without damage to individual hairs.
How suitable the FUE method is would depend on a couple of factors as well as the FOX test. For instance, it may be fine if a person needs only a small number of hairs to be grafted. A patient can only know if this is the method for them by consulting with a hair transplant specialist