When Dr. William Rassman first presented the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method in 2002, almost every hair transplant surgeon criticized it as it taking us back to the old punch age. The FUE punch measured 0.8mm in diameter, much smaller than the 4mm original punch, and caused more transection than the older technique.
Over time Dr. Rassman convinced some surgeons to use his method. Dr. Jim Harris then improved the FUE punch to reduce the transection rate.
Let's evaluate the pros and cons of FUE.
The advantages of FUE:
1. No linear scar/minimizes scarring
2. Can use body hair as donor hair
3. Better for smaller surgeries (i.e. eyebrows, facial hair, touch-ups, scar cover-up)
4. For limited donor hair availability
5. For persons whom would like to wear their hair short
Rebuttal to Advantages:
#1-No linear scar does not mean no scar at all, it still leaves hundreds even thousands of small, round scars, whereas with the trichophytic closure method (discussed on 1/30/07 - Hair Can Grow Through Donor Scar), the linear scar is almost invisible.(as picture below)
#2-In Dr. Rassman's New Hair News volume 12, 2007 comment on body hair transplants, he stated: “in the live patient viewing, one doctor presented two patients who had body hair transplanted into the scalp. The aesthetic impact was negligible fuzz on the top of the scalp…Based upon what I saw, the value of body hair transplants to the scalp may only have experimental value in today’s surgical practice.”
#3-A small area such as eyebrow needs 300 to 400 grafts. With the strip method, we need a linear donor skin of 1 cm in width and 5 cm in length. When the hairs are shaved, it will show a 5-cm long fine scar. With FUE, it will show 300 to 400 small punched scar. Which scar looks more natural?
#4-With limited donor hair availability the small scars are even more visible.
#5-Extremely short hair leads to the possibility of FUE scars and linear scars being visible. Patient cannot shave his head with either procedures.
Further disadvantages of FUE:
2. Time in surgery
FUE costs 200-300 hundred percent more than the strip harvest method and requires more time in surgery. I know one surgeon in Australia who takes one week to finish one patient. Is it worth the time and money?
Further disadvantage of FUE( compare to strip method)
*Quality of grafts can't compare this strips method.
FUE is blind punch method, strips method is cutting under microscope direct vision.
Which way will produce better guality of the grafts? And better result of regrowth?
* When hair loss progress, FUE patients will be converted to strips method's patients.
* After extensive FUE procedure, because of scars and lower density. The result of strips
method will be discount.
One hair transplant physician states that, "I have practiced FUE for the past five years. Most of my cases are strip FUT, but I perform an average of two FUE cases per week. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous practitioners who advertise FUE as a scarless surgery and, therefore, many prospective patients present requesting FUE out of this expectation. Patients must understand that there are punctate scars. Granted, they are not visible when FUE has not been extensive, but can be readily detected when harvesting has been extensive and donor hair worn very short."