- Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a type of hair transplant done by taking individual hair follicles from your skin and moving them to another part of your body where hair’s thinner or absent.
- FUE has become more popular than the follicular unit transplantation (FUT) procedure, which led to the “hair plugs” look.
- Surgeons use micropunches to extract single follicles and move them, leaving behind almost no signs of extraction.
- The FUE procedure is considered safe with minor possible side effects, such as tiny white scars where follicles were extracted. In extremely rare cases, there can be infection or tissue death where the surgery was done.
- You may experience temporary side effects that go away a few days after treatment. Side effects may include swelling, bruising, and sensitivity.
- FUE is often done in multiple 2 to 4 hour sessions over the course of several days. In rare cases, a “mega session” may last 10 to 12 hours.
- FUE is an outpatient procedure, so you can typically go home after each procedure.
- You don’t have to interrupt your daily routine too much after FUE. But don’t immerse the area in water or do any rigorous exercise for about a week.
- Almost any type of surgeon is qualified to do a hair transplant surgery. You may want to consult with a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss or is certified in hair transplant surgery.
- Hair transplants cost between $4,000 to $15,000 per session.
- The cost can vary widely based on how much hair is being transplanted and how experienced your surgeon is.
- Hair transplanted into a new area of your body typically begins growing back in about 3 to 4 months.
- You can expect about
10 to 80 percentof the transplanted hair to grow back.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplants are done by taking individual hair follicles out of your skin and implanting them elsewhere on your body. This will make the hair in the new area look thicker.
FUE was meant to replace the “classic” follicular unit transplantation (FUT) technique. This procedure was done by taking an entire piece of skin or scalp along with the follicles and transplanting the skin on the target area.
FUE has become more popular than FUT because it’s less likely to lead to a “hair plug” look, where sections of skin or hair don’t match the surrounding areas. It also won’t leave a large scar like FUT does.
The best candidate for a FUE hair transplant is someone with thinning hair or balding who still has enough hair nearby to use for a transplant.
You may not be eligible for a FUE hair transplant if you don’t have enough healthy or thick hair to transplant to the thinning or balding area.
A FUE hair transplant costs between $4,000 and $15,000 per session. A multiple-session procedure may cost up to $50,000 or more.
The ultimate cost of a FUE hair transplant depends on:
- how much hair is extracted and transplanted
- how many surgeons are available in your area to do this procedure
- how frequently your surgeon can perform FUE hair transplants
- how experienced or in-demand your surgeon is
You’ll likely need to pay for a FUE hair transplant out of pocket because most health insurance plans don’t cover cosmetic procedures like this.
You’ll also need to cover prescription medications for pain or other possible side effects that may result from the procedure.
You should factor in time off work for recovery when considering the cost. This can mean 3 to 4 days at home. Most companies don’t cover hair transplants under medical leave policies.
As you get older, the three-phase cycle of hair growth and regrowth shortens until follicles no longer regrow hairs.
This process is different for everyone. Some people start balding in their 20s, while others bald much later in life.
FUE hair transplants restore hair by replacing these old follicles with new follicles that are still able to grow hair.
After the transplant, the follicles will be nourished by blood vessels and begin growing hair in the area that previously had thin hair or balding.
Here’s how the FUE procedure works:
- Your surgeon will shave down the hair in the area where follicles will be removed as well as around the transplant area.
- Using a micropunch tool, they will remove follicles from your skin.
- Your surgeon will then make a series of tiny incisions with a needle or other small, sharp tool where the extracted follicles will be inserted.
- They’ll insert the follicles into the incisions.
- Your surgeon will clean and bandage the area for recovery.
FUE hair transplants are most commonly performed on the scalp.
They can also be done elsewhere on your body where hair is thin or absent. FUE can be done on your arms, legs, and even your genital area.
You won’t experience any scars from a FUE hair transplant other than tiny white dots where follicles were taken out. These may fade over time.
See your doctor if you notice any of the following rare side effects:
- infection symptoms
- drainage or crust where the surgery was done
- pain or swelling around the surgery site
- follicle swelling (folliculitis)
- bleeding from the surgery site
- numbness or tingling near the surgery site
- transplanted hair that doesn’t look like the hair around it
- balding or thinning continues even after the transplant
Recovery from FUE is quick. You may have some swelling or discomfort for about 3 days.
Here are some aftercare instructions your doctor may give you:
- Don’t wash your hair or shower for at least 3 days.
- Use gentle, unscented shampoos for a few weeks once you start washing your hair.
- Take a couple of days off work to help speed up healing.
- Don’t comb or brush your new hair for at least 3 weeks.
- Don’t wear hats, beanies, or other clothing that goes over your head until your doctor says it’s OK.
- Don’t do any strenuous physical activity for at least a week.
Some hairs may fall out during the healing process. This is normal. You’ll probably start to notice a difference after 3 to 4 months.
Depending on the health of your transplanted hair, your hair may not grow back as thick as expected.
Here are some photos of what you can expect from a FUE hair transplant.
Here are some things you may need to do before getting a FUE hair transplant:
- Don’t smoke for at least a day before your surgery.
- Don’t drink alcohol for at least 3 days before your surgery.
- Don’t take aspirin or blood thinners for about 2 weeks before your surgery.
- Don’t take any vitamins or dietary supplements for 2 weeks before your surgery.
- Try to avoid taking antidepressants for about 2 weeks before surgery.
- Don’t get your hair cut before the surgery.
- Do a scalp massage 10 to 30 minutes every day for a few weeks to increase blood flow to your scalp.
- Take any medications, such as minoxidil (Rogaine), that your surgeon asks you to take.
- Have an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood tests done before surgery.
Try the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery’s (ISHRS) Find a Doctor tool to locate a physician who specializes in hair restoration near you.
You can also use the directory on the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery’s (ABHRS) website to find a doctor who’s certified in hair restoration based on the rigorous criteria of the ABHRS.