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Is Everyone a Candidate for Follicular Unit Excision (formerly Follicular Unit Extraction)(FUE) Hair Transplant Surgery?

10/15/2009 1:47:35 PM

Question:

It seems there used to be much more discussion about whether or not someone was a candidate for FUE hair transplant surgery. I guess there is a small test the doctor can perform to determine if your donor is such that it lends itself to safely removing grafts? I haven't seen any discussion of this lately. I also haven't seen anyone post about how they had the test and were not a candidate so they couldn't get FUE. These days, it "seems" like anyone who wants FUE can just walk into a clinic and request the procedure. Does anyone have any information or thoughts on this?

Answer:

Many well respected hair transplant surgeons, including those who regularly perform realistic Follicular Unit Excision (formerly known as Follicular Unit Extraction) (FUE) procedures will tell you that not everyone is a candidate for this procedure. In my opinion, the development of newer and innovative tools have helped increase the number of patient candidates, but there is no such thing as 100% candidacy for a number of reasons.

The truth is, not everyone is a candidate for hair transplant surgery altogether let alone a particular procedure. There are so many factors and things to consider...some of which include age, family history of hair loss, current and projected future hair loss pattern (area of baldness), donor characteristics (laxity and density), and whether or not the goals of the patient can realistically be met.

Regarding FUE specifically, sometimes if a patient's scalp is too soft and malleable, penetration becomes a problem and the risk of follicular damage during extraction increases. I have heard of physicians turning down patients for FUE for this reason.

Though there are varying opinions on this, I'm an avid believer that FUE is better reserved for qualified patients with minimal loss and minimal risks for progressing to advanced stages of hair loss. There are a number of reasons for this. To date, FUE is still more expensive (though costs have been coming down overall). More importantly, most leading hair restoration physicians will argue that on average there is less available donor hair via FUE than via follicular unit hair transplantation (FUT) via microscopic dissection. Thus, often times for men with advanced baldness to achieve the kind of results they want, they end up getting a strip procedure performed once they have no more available donor hair via FUE. Since most patients who are interested in FUE opt for this procedure to avoid the linear scar, this is self-defeating.

Assuming you are a candidate for a hair transplant, when selecting a procedure, it's highly important to think about what you ultimately want to accomplish long term. Immediate gratification just isn't possible with surgical hair restoration especially since at a minimum, patients have to wait a full year assuming they only need one procedure. Thus, be sure to consider all of your options before making any decisions.

All Articles by Bill Seemiller

Bill is the managing publisher of the Hair Transplant Network and The Hair Loss Learning Center. He is 4 time hair transplant patient and has over 15,000 helpful posts on our hair restoration discussion forum. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s in Christian Counseling. In addition to his work in helping hair loss experiencing men and women finding the best hair transplant surgeons, he helps people with various addiction and mental health related issues in his free time. He enjoys weight lifting, kickboxing, movies, researching conspiracy related topics and spending time with his family.