Hair loss, which can range from minor to severe, occurs in both men and women. Androgenic alopecia, or pattern baldness, is generally gender-specific due to hormonal imbalances in the sexes. Male pattern baldness tends to affect the hairline and crown leading to a thinning or near-bald scalp, while women tend to retain their hairlines but will have associated thinning in the crown. There are a number of solutions for hair loss, including topical medications like minoxidil, oral medications such as finasteride, and cosmetic treatment plans to restore hair to the head. Hair restoration surgery provides hair loss patients with fuller heads of hair-permanently. Dr. Andrea Garcia and Dr. Josh Surowitz are an expert plastic surgery team specializing in follicular unit extraction (FUE) at Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery in Charlotte, NC.
What is an FUE?
Follicular unit extraction is a hair restoration procedure that uses a “punch” method to extract a single hair follicle from the scalp so it can be grafted to a location of hair loss or decreasing hair density. The vertical motion preserves the surrounding skin, ensuring the components of the new hair are not damaged during the transplant process. During this procedure, hairs may be collected from different parts of the scalp in a distributed fashion. Finer hairs than tend to grow at the nape of the neck may be used to create the “baby” hairs found in a natural hairline. There are various techniques utilized to ensure the most natural-looking results. After the harvesting portion of the procedure, the recipient site is prepped for transplant. Through the same punch method use to extract the hair follicle and hair, the skin is removed from the site so the new follicles can be strategically implanted.
Performing FUE with FUT
Hair restoration techniques may be part of a more inclusive treatment plan to ensure the best aesthetic outcome. FUE, the punch method of hair restoration can be performed alongside FUT (follicular unit transplantation), the strip method, to tailor the treatment plan to a patient’s specific needs. Depending on a patient’s remaining viable hair, both forms of hair transplant could be the best solution for his or her case. FUE may also be paired with PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections or topical application, LLLT (low-level laser therapy) for hair growth, or medications to address the cause of the hair loss.
Browse our gallery of patient before-and-after photos to see examples of our results. Additional before-and-after results are also available for review at the time of consultation.
Scarring from the FUE Procedure
Some patients are more interested in the FUE hair transplant because they are under the impression that it will not produce visible scarring. Because follicular unit transplant requires a strip of skin to be cut from the scalp, patients view follicular unit extraction as a more natural method of hair selection. Both therapies can lead to scarring, but when performed by plastic surgery experts like Charlotte’s Dr. Garcia or Dr. Surowitz, there is a lower chance that noticeable post-surgical marks will remain. FUE transplant allows patients to avoid the linear scar this is present following FUT. There are different types of treatments to address scarring of the skin which can be employed once the patient has fully healed.
Post-Surgical FUE Recovery
Patients may notice some sensitivity and uncomfortable sensations in the scalp once the numbing injections wear off. While the newly transplanted hair should not be touched directly, patients can take a number of steps to ensure a comfortable healing process. Patients may leave with a bandage or gauze over the scalp to protect the transplanted hairs and cover the small wounds created during the punch process. An ice pack or cold compress can be used over the bandage on the harvested areas, but should not be used on the newly implanted follicles. Over the counter or prescription strength pain medications can also help to combat any residual pain. The doctors may also suggest spraying the scalp with saline spray, which is just a salt and water mixture, to keep the area clean and hydrated. This promotes optimal healing while also offering some relief of the scalp.
Dr. Surowitz did a great job on my hair transplant! I had a lot of questions about the process and he was very helpful in explaining the procedure and what was involved. When it became time to do the procedure he was very professional and did excellent work. Post–procedure he again answered all my questions and did regular visits to see progress. I am very happy with end result. I recommend Dr. Surowitz highly!*
When lying down or sleeping, patients should keep their head elevated for at least the first few days following FUE surgery. Extra pillows help to keep the head higher than the rest of the body, allowing gravity to naturally help keep swelling to a minimum. Patients should also avoid bending over for at least 48 hours which will also prevent excess swelling of the scalp.
Men and women who are healing from follicular unit extraction surgery are encouraged to drink plenty of water and eat a normal, healthy diet but there are some restrictions to abide by for a few days. Patients should avoid certain vitamins and medications, alcohol, and certain activities that will raise their heart rate. It is generally advisable to hair transplant patients to take a week off of work. Because the newly restored site will look like very short hairs, or a “buzz cut,” patients may opt to shave the remainder of their hair, which is safe at about the two-week mark, for a seamless transition between the old and new hair. Women or men with longer hair may be able to camouflage the treated part of their scalp with their hair.
Patients will see about a 75% improvement six months after their hair transplant, with full results a year or more following the surgery. The treatment plan may include oral medications, the daily application of a topical solution, or at-home LLLT treatments. The doctors may also incorporate PRP injections or application into the patient’s care plant.
FAQs About FUE
Are hair follicular unit extraction procedures performed for men only?
Both men and women suffer from hair loss, and may benefit from FUE hair transplant. While the procedure tends to be more popular with men, more women are now recognizing that they, too can restore their thinning hair.
What is an FUE consultation like?
Prospective hair transplant patients can schedule a consultation with Dr. Garcia and Dr. Surowitz to discuss their hair loss and possible treatment solutions. The doctors will try to determine why a patient has lost hair, which can require additional testing or the involvement of other specialists. Each treatment option can be explained, including information on the pros and cons, allowing the patient can make an informed decision and to proceed with expert guidance.
Is it painful to undergo FUE?
Most patients agree that the most pain they feel during FUE is with the numbing injections that deliver lidocaine or other anesthetic medications to the scalp. Though the pain relief will wear off, patients can take prescription strength or over the counter medications to minimize any discomfort. Icing the donor site and keeping the head elevated will help control swelling and create optimal healing conditions.
What is the best age to receive FUE hair transplant?
While there is no ideal age to undergo a hair transplant, patients may find that it is more advantageous for them to wait until their hair loss pattern is fully visible. This prevents the need for additional hair transplant procedures later in life. Through maintenance, some patients may be able to prevent or lessen future hair loss.
What are the benefits of receiving FUE surgery?
The FUE procedure is less extensive than that of FUT. There is no skin excision, and therefore patients can avoid the linear scar that results from the procedure. Hair can be harvested from more areas on the scalp, and some people feel that the results are more natural. The healing process for FUE is also faster than that with FUT.
Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery – Featuring Dr. Garcia and Dr. Surowitz
Charlotte’s hair transplant experts, Andrea Garcia, M.D. and Josh Surowitz, M.D. are North Carolina-educated, board-certified plastic surgeons. The doctors share the same philosophies when it comes to patient care, and generally work as a team of two. Patients can feel at ease knowing that both highly skilled surgeons are present in the operating room.
The doctors utilize the latest developments in medical technology, and skillfully deliver consistent cosmetic results. From non-surgical treatments to reconstructive surgeries, the doctors offer a single setting for a patient’s every need when it comes to facial plastics.
Discover modern hair restorations in Charlotte, NC. Call Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery at (980) 949-6544 or submit an Online Consultation form today.