Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Patient Guide

Dr. William RassmanI wanted to call your attention to yesterday’s announcement relating to follicular unit extraction (FUE). As the ‘inventors’ of the procedure, publishing the first authoritative article in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery in 2002, I have taken a keen interest in the way this procedure is delivered throughout the world. Much of what I have been observing has been disturbing. Too many doctors with little experience, and skills that have not been refined, have entered the field with heavy marketing programs offering FUE. My experience, however, has shown that some patients are not good candidates for this procedure and damage to the harvested grafts can be substantial in most surgeon’s hands. The key here is graft yield and unfortunately, this is an assessment made either after the procedure is performed with careful surgical monitoring and record keeping (by recording hair damage within each graft), or 8 months after the procedure when the patient can judge the success or failure of the results on his or her head.

I realize there is a delicate balance between what we want and what we buy. Our progress in reinventing the FUE process is discussed here — new FUE breakthrough. I really hope everyone considering having an FUE surgery (or anyone just curious about how it works) will read our new guide to evaluating Follicular Unit Extraction Techniques.

So what prompted me to write a new FUE guide? A while ago, I had the opportunity to view a well known doctor extract approximately 20 FUE grafts under my direct observation. While he boasted that he had mastered the procedure, what I saw reflected far less than such mastery and the doctor obtained a significant transection/amputation rate of the hairs in the graft. That doctor is prominently offering FUE today.

The surgeon’s technical skills take years to acquire and perfect, and although there are now some very fine doctors who I believe have truly mastered the technique and can deliver a quality service, I believe that they are in the minority of those offering it. There is a substantial worldwide demand for this minimally invasive hair transplant (virtually painless during the post-operative period, the patient can return to full activities in a week including all types of exercises, and there is no linear scarring). The problem for the patient, however, is in selecting a doctor where the FUE technique does not produce a “follicular holocaust” causing a substantial loss of donor hair and a failure of the procedure. This insight seems to be hidden from most buyers, because prospective patients want to believe in the marketing hype that is prevalent on the Internet and they are sold the technique by professional marketing pitches. There is no way to determine in advance, the skills of the doctors offering to perform the surgery.

In our new FUE guide, we have defined a way for patients to examine the various doctors offering this procedure, giving them an idea of what questions to ask and what things to look for. There is no site to offer guidance in the doctor selection process so the consumer must arm himself with the knowledge and skills to make the proper judgments themselves. Hopefully, our writings will appropriately arm the readers interested in this technique.

Tags: follicular unit extraction, fue, hair transplant, hairtransplant, hairloss, hair loss

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