If you’re interested in a hair transplant procedure, but are worried about how it might look immediately afterwards, you may be surprised. Hair transplant technology has been gradually progressing since the early ’90s, and has now reached the stage where up to 85% of people cannot tell that you’ve even had the procedure done. Of course, those that are close to you may notice an improvement in the overall look of your hair, but to outsiders it will not be obvious that you’ve undergone corrective surgery.
The first ever hair transplant procedures took place in the ’80s, where doctors attempted to harvest hair groups, leaving patients with unnatural-looking, almost puppet-like hair. In 1990, the strip method, also known as FUT (follicular unit hair transplantation), was introduced, which involves a strip being cut out from the scalp before being separated and carefully implanted onto the affected balding areas.
The introduction of follicular unit extraction (commonly known as ‘FUE’) in the early 2000s was a real game changer for the industry, and involved doctors using micropunches to harvest healthy hair follicles. Each graft contains between one and three hairs, and allows doctors to really focus on details to make the transplant much more subtle.
The idea to harvest donor hair via follicular units was initially thought up by Dr. Woods, an Australian surgeon, although he mainly kept the idea to himself and did not publish his findings.
In fact, the FUE method was actually first published in 2002 by Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Rassman in their joint article, where they described how the procedure was carried out, gave it a name, and included an explanation of the FOX test which is used to determine how to find an adequate donor area for patients. After the article was published, word quickly spread about the FUE procedure and how it could revolutionise the industry.
FUE2 Safe System
In 2011, the FUE Safe System came into play, developed using the innovative techniques of FUE, and allows doctors to harvest follicles far more precisely than previous attempts, with practically no harm to the hair follicles as a result. The micropunches now use a special point specially developed to prevent drilling too deep, which also results in much quicker healing times.
Are you a suitable candidate?
The FUE hair transplantation method provides perfect solution for individuals who would like their hair to be very short after the procedure, as there will be none of the scarring that would have occurred using FUT. Active athletes also tend to go for FUE, as it means a much shorter recovery period, allowing them to continue performing physical activities without having to take weeks off.
FUE can also correct any less subtle results that may have occurred due to earlier FUT procedures, and it can even be possible to use hair from other parts of your body (such as your beard) to help ensure you have plenty of hair for the grafts.
Generally a less invasive choice than FUT, FUE does not have the feel of a surgical procedure, and patients tend to be a lot more comfortable, despite the depth of the incision being almost exactly the same with both methods. The incision technique and the end result tend to be where FUE has a real advantage, making it a more popular choice for many patients.
What is a follicular unit hair transplant? A step-by-step guide
Follicular unit hair transplants are among the most commonly carried out procedures today for people seeking to redress hair loss. It’s an effective way to reclaim your crowning glory and restore your looks, and your confidence.
A follicular unit hair transplant is performed by a skilled surgeon on an out-patient basis and by only using local anaesthesia, so it’s relatively straightforward and pain-free.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how it’s performed.
1. Patient preparation
The donor area of the patient is prepared for transplantation. This is usually at the back of the head, where hair follicles are generally robust and immune to the hormonal and genetic markers that can cause hair loss in other areas, particularly at the top of the head. Ahead of the transplant, the donor hairs at the back of the head are trimmed and readied to be removed.
Once the donor area has been trimmed, it is then given a local anaesthetic and the surgery is about to begin.
3. Removal of tissue
With the local anaesthetic having taken effect, it’s time to remove an area of the donor tissue that contains the hair follicles to be relocated to the bald part of the head.
The surgeon will now suture the wound and comb hair over it so it’s not visible. The sutures are usually taken out after around 10 days, and there should be little or no scarring.
5. Preparing grafts
Now it’s time to prepare follicular unit hair grafts. Expert surgical technicians will first examine the donor tissue using microscopes so that they can dissect the follicles and get them ready for transplantation.
6. Recipient area
The bald part of the patient’s head is now given a local anaesthetic and prepared for the transplant. Any existing hairs in this region are left as they are; so there’s no need to shave the area.
7. Making incisions
The surgeon makes hundreds of small incisions in the donor area, ensuring they’re done in such a way as to look natural when the follicles are grafted.
8. Grafts placed
Hair follicles from the donor tissue are placed into the incisions, in different densities – usually one or two at the front and three or four behind them – so as to create a natural look.
9. Transplantation complete
The transplantation procedure is now finished and the patient will have lots of tiny and stubbly hairs in the recipient area.
It normally takes about a week for the small incisions to heal and for any scabbing or redness in the area to disappear, leaving a growing area of newly transplanted and luxuriant hair that the patient will enjoy and people will admire.
SafeSystem SAFE Surgically Advanced Follicular Extraction
Nowadays there’s no reason to be bald, not unless you really want to be – and most people, if they’re honest, would do almost anything to regain a full head of hair. Thankfully you don’t have to go to any extreme lengths to get your locks back. That’s because of the pioneering procedure called Surgically Advanced Follicular Extraction, or SAFE. So what is it?
SAFE is a patented technology that more easily allows surgeons to carry out hair transplants, meaning it’s better for clinics as well as their patients. One of the main benefits of using this revolutionary system is in the process of harvesting hair follicles from donor areas of the body, because it causes minimum damage to the surrounding areas; previously, scarring and redness were caused by using more rudimentary methods.
This system, employing a specially designed and highly technical tool, even allows for harvesting of hair follicles in other parts of the body, such as the chest or perhaps back or stomach areas, in cases where a patient may have extensive hair loss on their head and therefore not have sufficient donor areas there. However, as head hair is of vastly superior quality to body hair, every effort will usually be made to select areas of the head where hair can be harvested, and only if it’s deemed there aren’t enough follicles there will hair from the body be used. It’s certainly a good option to have in cases of severe baldness.
This patented SafeSystem uses what’s known as a special “scribe” device to do the extraction work, and it can remove follicles containing as much as six to seven hairs, with little or no damage to the surrounding tissue. Hair loss surgeons are discovering enormous advantages in their work by using this advanced method of transplantation.
When the follicles are harvested they’re then stored in a regeneration fluid, which makes them stronger and leads to between 10% and 15% more growth of the hair when transplanted. Recovery times had previously been an issue for hair-transplant patients, but with the SafeSystem, it’s dramatically reduced, as the scalp recovers in a much faster period due to the general lack of scarring and other damage.
Other advantages of the FUE SafeSystem are that it can be used on anyone, men or women and of any age, and that there’s less chance of damage to the hair follicles during the removal phase, meaning there are more donor hairs to use. In addition, the overall look of the hair transplant is incredibly more natural than using other methods, and this important aspect is aided by surgeons being able to choose the characteristics of the hair.
It all adds up to one of the most advanced hair-loss solutions around.
Advantages of the FUE Safe System method
The FUE Safe System method is the most technologically advanced procedure of hair transplant. It works by precisely harvesting hair follicles, without causing damage to the follicles directly or the scalp around them. It allows the surgeon to remove the follicles and transplant them one by one, so no tissue damage occurs. The FUE Safe System also allows for surgeons to make use of hair follicles from other locations on the body, so if the patient has little to no remaining scalp hair the transplantation method can still take place.
Hair transplant technology is as safe and effective as it has ever been, and the process has been developing for over thirty years. Initially, in the 1980s surgeons harvested larger hair groups, which achieved a successful result but the transplant ended up looking unnatural. In the 90s a new method was conceived of, called the ‘strip method’. This procedure meant the surgeon cut a strip from the scalp that was in turn separated into small pieces, which were implanted into the scalp. Again, though successful in many cases, the downside was that it was an invasive and often painful procedure.
The innovative Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) was implemented in the year 2000. This breakthrough in hair transplant technology was brought about by the invention of the ‘micro-punch’, a tool used to harvest specific hair follicles of 1-3 hairs at a time. With the arrival of this safer, less painful and more precise method, surgeons were able to focus on more aesthetic details, meaning that FUE also produced a much more attractive and natural looking result. Now after almost fifteen years of further development, the incredible FUE technology has been improved on again with advancements in technology. New micro-punches such as the SAFE Scribe now enable doctors to perform even more precise harvesting, while also avoiding any damage to hair follicles. Furthermore, new safety enhancements, such as a special point on the micro-punch that doesn’t allow the surgeon to drill beyond a certain layer of skin, prevents tissue damage and promotes a shorter healing period, while practically abolishing scarring.
The FUE Safe Method is truly remarkable in its production of a natural, aesthetically pleasing result, while preventing any unnecessary pain or tissue damage. In summary, here are the benefits that the latest FUE method provides:
This method enables surgeons to harvest follicles without causing tissue damage or damage to the follicles themselves.
No visible scarring
Due to the advanced technology of the micro-punch used, the process doesn’t penetrate below a certain layer of skin, so permanent damage is avoided.
Faster healing period
Due to reduction in tissue damage it only takes 3-4 weeks before patients are fully healed.
Natural, healthy looking outcome
Because of the ability to transplant individual healthy follicles precisely, the surgeon is able to produce a dense and natural looking result.
The implanted hairs will never fall out, as the transplanted follicles aren’t susceptible to the same hormone (DHT) that initially promotes baldness and hair reduction.