FAQ – FUE Minimally invasive hair transplant center in Chicago
1. What is an “FUE” hair transplant?
“F.U.E.” or “Follicular Unit Extraction” is an advanced, minimally-invasive hair transplant method which allows for the harvesting of individual follicles (hair units) from the donor area without a scalpel or stitches, and therefore leaves no linear scar. This is important to everybody but especially to those who like to wear their hair short.
FUE is a modern surgical hair transplant technique used to treat male pattern baldness. This technology physically replaces lost hair with a patient’s own fuzz from donor areas on the back and/or sides of the scalp (or other donor sites) as opposed to using Rogaine or Propecia to treat baldness. Hair follicles are “harvested” from the donor areas in one of two ways—follicular unit extraction (FUE) or strip harvesting. FUE uses a small, 1mm dermal punch to pluck small tufts of hairs directly from the scalp. Strip harvesting relies on cutting out a strip of scalp (ouch) and manually excising the follicles from the flesh using a microscope. These follicles are then carefully grafted onto the bald patch, known as the recipient area. The grafts will begin to grow on their own within three to four months. Full growth is expected at 1 year after transplant and will normally continue to do so for the rest of the patient’s life.
To use the ARTAS (or Neograft), the patient first has their hair shortened to about 1mm in length. The patient then sits in the chair with the ARTAS positioned above him. A physician then uses the robotic arm to make a series of small dermal punches to harvest the follicles—collecting up to 1,000 hairs an hour. These follicles are then manually transplanted into the recipient area. The entire process generally takes a single session lasting up to eight hours.
2. What is the advantage of the ARTAS robot versus Neograft?
- Increased accuracy of harvesting grafts due to computer technology to minimize damage to follicles
- Consistent quality of the grafts throughout the procedure from start to finish – no human fatigue factor
- Reduced harvesting time
- Increased graft survival
The ARTAS robotic device is an image-guided system composed of a robotic arm, needle punch mechanism, disposable proprietary dermal punches, video imaging system, disposable cartridges, and a user interface. Its extraction technique consists of a double punch arrangement with an inner (1mm) punch and outer (1.3mm) punch. The inner punch has cutting capabilities to score the upper most part of the skin and the outer punch has a blunt edge used for dissection of the follicular units from the surrounding tissue that minimizes injury to the grafts. This is an advantage over the Neograft system which utilizes sharp punch dissection which has a higher possibility off follicle damage.
3. What is the difference between the ARTAS robot and the NeoGraft™ FUE transplant?
ARTAS® robotic system utilizes advanced computer/robotic technology to harvest follicular units (FUE) while the NeoGraft™ automated system facilitates the harvesting of follicles during an “FUE”-type hair transplant which is actually performed by a doctor. Both technologies dramatically improve the accuracy and speed of FUE harvest compared to previous manual extraction instruments.
The ARTAS robotic system has computer based robotic control, video imaging and uses a blunt dissection technique. This new technology allows for very precise extraction of follicular units from the donor area with minimal transection what does this mean?. The Neograft machine is a manually operated machine which uses sharp edge dissection. Because it relies on a manual controls rather than robotics, it is less accurate and the cutting tip may cause more graft injury. The precision of the ARTAS robot allows the grafts to be harvested with fewer traumas and will thus result in better growth.
4. When is the Neograft a better choice than the ARTAS robot?
ARTAS robot has its limitations (so far! we are working on that!)
Neograft allows us to utilize more donor sites rather than only posterior scalp and sides of the scalp utilized by the ARTAS robot
We have extensive experience with Neograft to harvest beard, chest, arms or leg hair without scars, thus expanding possibilities of hair transplants in patients with scarce scalp donor sites
Neograft may be more reliable in re-do cases when previous STRIP harvest sites may be difficult for the ARTAS robot to navigate
5. What are the main benefits of FUE over the linear STRIP harvesting?
It is well-accepted that FUE hair transplants can heal faster, with less discomfort and swelling and more comfortably than linear-harvest techniques using a scalpel and requiring stitches. With FUE, once healing is complete (within 5 days), the patient has the option of wearing a very short haircut without the worry of a tell-tale linear scar. Without the need for stitches or staples, the downtime is shorter with fewer activity restrictions post-operatively.
Much less swelling and pain than STRIP. You can be back in the gym in just 5 days!
6. Who is a good candidate for FUE using the ARTAS robot or NeoGraft™?
Patients who would like the option of wearing a short haircut in the back or sides of their scalp, or those who want the least amount of activity restriction (e.g. athletes, professionals) after their hair transplant procedure, may be good candidates for FUE with NeoGraft™. So, in reality, who would rather have a permanent scar and pain versus no scar and minimal pain? The story of a FUE is similar to gallbladder surgery – nobody wants a long scar versus laparoscopic pinholes.
FUE can also be used for ‘scar camouflage’ procedures for patients who have had prior linear harvests, as well as for body hair transplants.
7. What are the major cost differences between FUE and linear-harvest hair transplant procedures?
The fee structure for FUE hair transplant procedures reflect the more detailed and intricate nature of those procedures compared to those performed with a linear harvest. Generally the FUE procedure is more costly than the STRIP but it has major advantages – no scar to worry about and speedy, painless recovery.
The ARTAS robot is more expensive than the Neograft due to technology involved but has advantages (see above)
8. Are the final transplanted results any different with FUE than those achieved with linear harvesting?
Final results are similar. This is proven not only in our clinic but elsewhere.
FUE procedures, by default, yield grafts that contain mainly one, two, three, or four follicles called “follicular units.” Linear harvests, which are then microscopically dissected by a team of techs into grafts of one, two or three follicles, would also yield similar ‘follicular-unit’ grafts. Provided that in each case the grafts are implanted with care, artistry and precision into the recipient area, the final transplanted results with FUE would be similar, if not identical, to those accomplished with a linear harvest.
The difference is not in the area of hair growth, but how the donor area is harvested either by a strip of scalp or by small individual graft extractions.
9. Is FUE suitable for both men and women?
Yes. Because FUE is a minimally-invasive procedure, it is a viable option for both men and women looking to restore their own living and growing hair with transplantation.
Women’s hair loss has more complicated etiology but this applies to both STRIP and FUE techniques.
10. Do I have to get a total ‘buzz cut’ to have an FUE procedure?
No, but it helps.
If you prefer to keep your hair long and if your donor hair is long enough, harvesting using the FUE can be done by shaving small areas which can be covered by your other, existing hair. For maximum yield however, a buzz cut is recommended in the donor area.
If this is not an option we offer temporary covers prepared by our experienced technicians than can camouflage donor site.
11. Am I a good candidate for a procedure using FUE
The best way to determine whether you are a candidate for hair transplant using FUE (either the ARTAS robot or the Neograft) is a one-on-one consultation with our doctor.
However, if you are coming from a distance, initial evaluation can be accomplished through the review of your photographs or a Skype based consultation.
In these cases procedure can be planned ahead and only one visit for a consultation /procedure is required. However, the final determination about the type of procedure recommended can only be done during the formal personal consultation.