Hair Restoration – FUT & FUE Mini-Grafts Give A Natural Look
Whether you are a man or a woman, hair loss can be traumatic and effect your self-esteem. Fortunately, there are extremely effective hair restoration techniques that can correct the problem of thinning hair.
At Facial Plastic Surgery Associates in Houston, Texas, facial plastic surgeon Dr. Russell Kridel and Dr. Angela Sturm utilize the most current mini-graft techniques that can successfully replace hair that looks natural and with very little discomfort or downtime. These techniques are minimally invasive and can be done under local anesthesia in our fully accredited in-office surgical facility.
There are multiple terms used for hair restoration surgery, such as hair transplant, hair transplantation and hair replacement. For todays face, hair replacement is a more accurate and positive reflection of the success we have found with the mini-graft hair restoration approach for both men and women.
No More Corn Rows
Hair-replacement surgery has come a long way in recent years. What’s made a major difference in the look of hair that has been transplanted is that many years ago big clumps of hair plugs were inserted into the scalp, leaving the hairline with a corn-row effect.
Today, there are two primary approaches to mini-graft restoration — FUE Hair Transplant (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT Hair Transplant (Follicular Unit Transfer) — which retains the natural characteristics of hair growth, so there are no more corn rows! The hair replacement plugs are quite different; they are tiny, made of one to two hairs each. This means that when your surgeon inserts the plugs into tiny slits in your scalp, the visual upshot is that the transplants look natural, and blend in smoothly with your other hair. In essence, we are moving hair that is genetically programmed not to be bald to an area that is genetically programmed to be sparse or bald.
Hair Loss Also Effects Women
Hair loss doesn’t occur just in men. About 20 percent of women experience some hair loss due to hormonal changes, illness, or aging and there are options for hair restoration for women. The main difference is that women’s hair loss is more likely to be generalized thinning.
As a general rule, hair-restoration surgery works if you have healthy hair-growth areas to serve as donor places; typically this means that the sides and back of your head need to have some hair from which to “harvest” grafts. If you have a head that’s almost bald completely, you probably are not a candidate for this hair replacement surgery.
Expertise and Training Matters
Dr. Russell Kridel and Dr. Angela Sturm are facial plastic surgeons who have extensive specialized training in the face, head and neck. Dr. Kridel has authored and published scientific journal articles and text book chapters on hair restoration and has been recognized for his expertise and leading edge techniques. He has been performing hair restoration procedures for over 20 years.
Like any cosmetic procedure, hair restoration requires thoughtful consideration and planning. During your consultation with Dr. Kridel or Dr. Sturm, you will discuss your desired results and determine which techniques are the most appropriate to achieve your goal. The physician will also complete a thorough history, examine your head, evaluate your hair loss and assess its progression.
We will also take photographs for computer imaging. During your consultation, feel free to ask any questions you would like. Dr. Kridel, Dr. Sturm and the entire FPSA team will be there to help you every step of the way.
Achieving a natural appearance in restoring hair is a challenging goal that can only be achieved through attention to detail and the most sophisticated surgical techniques, whether for restoring hairlines or creating eyebrows or beards. However, the positive effect of the procedure is not only aesthetic, but also emotional, giving many patients increased confidence and self-assurance. Therefore, it is important to select a trained facial plastic surgeon that you trust.
About Mini Graft Techniques
FUT (follicular unit transplantation)
The follicular unit means we are transplanting hair by the smallest possible section. For example, hair grows out of the scalp primarily in 1, 2 and 3 hair follicular units. We can then harvest those units from one area to another. With follicular unit transplantation (FUT), we harvest in strips. This is a very efficient method to obtain a large number of follicular units. The strip of scalp is removed by the surgeon and then microscopically dissected into follicular units by specifically trained transplant technicians. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, like Dr. Kridel or Dr. Sturm, there will only be a barely detectable scar where the strip was harvested.
However, it is still important to be aware that any scar in the scalp, albeit small, will show if you shaved your head. Most female and male patients, do not intend to shave their heads, so this is not an issue.
The tiny incisions for the recipient sites —- where the units will be placed — have to be made by the surgeon. It is Dr. Kridel’s and Dr. Sturm’s skill, experience and expertise that is required to design the hairline. Because they know the proper placement, depth and angle that needs to be made to achieve a natural pattern for future hair growth.
The FUT or strip technique, is a great choice for many patients, especially most women, and men who do not plan cutting their hair short and are seeking more coverage. Certainly, it depends on many factors, but most men have 3,000 to 8,000 grafts done. While a great deal can be done at one time, it may also take more than one procedure to reach your goal. It is not uncommon for us to complete over 3,000 grafts in a single session.
FUE (follicular unit extraction)
With the FUE (follicular unit extraction) technique the follicular unit grafts are obtained one at a time from tiny extraction sites on the scalp rather than in a strip. Each graft is carefully removed from the back or sides of the head then planted into recipient sites.
Like FUT, Dr. Kridel or Dr. Sturm will design the hairline direction, distribution, and pattern of hair growth for the most natural result. They will make the tiny incisions needed in the recipient area, as well as extract the tiny follicular grafts. A team of highly trained technicians prepare these individual units for placement in the recipient sites.
Because there is not a removal of a strip of hair from the back of the head, there will not be a linear donor site scar. So this technique is more appropriate for patients that would like to shave their head. Also patients whose donor area is limited due to tightness of the scalp or those who tend to heal with wide scars after suturing are good FUE candidates.
The most significant drawback to follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplantation is the limit of donor supply. And, because each follicular unit is removed individually, the procedure takes a considerably larger amount of time and is therefore, more costly.
Hair Restoration: Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
What type of anesthesia is used?
At FPSA most hair transplant procedures are performed with intravenous and oral sedation so that patients may be sleepy or unaware of the procedure. In some case, the procedure is done under local anesthesia, which allows you to be fully alert during the procedure.
Can I go back to work?
You can go back the next day if you like. However, most patients wait a day or two. Depending on the extent and location of the restoration, we may put a dressing on the back of the head when you leave the office that will be removed later that evening. A cap can be worn after the hair transplant surgery to hide your head on your way home.
Is it painful?
No. Once the scalp is anesthetized the procedure is painless. When sedation is used, you will lose track of the 3 to 7 hour time-frame for the procedure.
When can I wash my hair?
You can wash your hair very gently the day after surgery with plain water. The second day you can gently shampoo your hair and beginning on the third day you can resume your normal hair-styling methods.
Will I have stitches?
If we use the FUT technique, the stitches or staples used to close the donor area in the back of your head will be removed in 10 to 14 days.
Why are there technicians helping the surgeon?
It takes an experienced team to efficiently perform the labor-intensive task of harvesting the donor hair, cutting the donor hair into hundreds or thousands of follicular units under microscopes and then insert each of them individually into precisely cut tiny slits. The surgeons make the precise cuts in the donor and recipient areas, but highly trained technicians are needed to simultaneously create the thousands of follicular units needed in the time allowed for the surgery.
Will I have the same amount of hair that I had before I started to lose it?
We can create a very natural looking appearance that makes it hard to distinguish from the full density you once had before genetic hair loss or trauma occurred. Since we are taking hair from one area and placing it in another, it is mathematically impossible to give you additional hair. However, to the normal eye it will look like full coverage.
How much does it cost?
Hair restoration cost can vary depending on the technique and area of coverage chosen, as well as the causes of the patient’s hair loss. It is traditionally priced per graft, with FUE technique at a slightly higher cost than FUT.
When considering hair replacement cost, it is important to keep in mind the value of the surgery. How much does the hair transplant cost when compared to a hairpiece, or the long-term use of medical treatments like Rogaine, or laser therapy. Because the results are permanent, many patients view the surgery as an investment in their appearance and overall long term happiness.