hair follicle for hair transplant surgeryWhen considering any type of cosmetic surgery, it is important to read around the subject and ensure that you understand as much about the process, the costs, the risks and rewards. The difficulty comes with wading through acronyms, Latin and complicated scientific definitions, meaning that your wider reading can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused.

Understanding the jargon

For people considering hair transplantation, one of the terms that is used widely is ‘follicular unit’, which is an important part of the process, and not as complicated to understand as it might sound.

When hair transplantation was first tested, the process involved transporting small strips containing many follicles. This process can be effective, but the downside is that it can cause some scarring in the donor area (usually the back of the head or neck) and when transplanted it can look unnatural. After years of testing, practising and pushing the boundaries of hair transplantation techniques, a new technique was born which involved individually transporting follicles. Moved in groups of one to four follicles at a time, these tiny clusters are what are known as ‘follicular units’.

Step by step, one by one

Once isolated, follicular units can be ‘harvested’ from the donor site, and transplanted individually into areas affected by hair loss. Owing to the fact that they are moved on an individual basis, the result is a very natural look and feel, and virtually no risk of scarring to the donor area. The lack of scarring and quick healing time means that this type of hair transplant is ideal for people who want to wear their hair cropped to a short style. This type of operation is undertaken under local anaesthetic too, so the even better news is that it is relatively painless.

If you see hair transplant surgery involving follicular units described as ‘FUE’ then this is referring to this process, and it is officially known as ‘Follicular Unit Extraction’. Its hair surgery cousin is known by the acronym ‘FUT’, which follows similar principals, but the key difference being that hairs are not transplanted individually, but in strips. FUT stands for ‘Follicular Unit Transplantation’.

If you’re considering going down the surgical route, a consultation with a hair loss specialist can help you understand which of these two techniques is most suitable for the type of hair loss you are experiencing.



By Ian Watson


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