Does FUE hair transplant last forever? It’s widely thought that an FUE hair transplant will last forever. That the hair used is permanent. This is largely true. With a well-planned and executed FUE hair transplant procedure. With only minimal thinning over many years. This is a natural aspect of age, not progressive hair loss. As we age our body cells age and the hair naturally thins. However, this is not always the case. If an FUE hair transplant is going to stand the test of time protocols need to be followed. If not, forget forever. The transplanted hair can follow the same fate as the hair before.
FUE hair transplant basics
A hair transplant works on the principle that all our hair suffers from the male pattern baldness gene. MPB is a genetic hair loss condition. The majority of men suffer some degree of hair loss in their lifetime. The pattern of hair loss can vary. From a relatively mild hairline recession to advanced hair loss. Regardless of the hair loss pattern a band of genetically strong hair remains around the back and sides of our heads. As a result, by removing some of these hair. Then, used for an FUE hair transplant. One problem is there is no exact line between the good and weak hair.
How can any FUE hair transplant maintain the hair coverage and density as designed? With the use of only genetically strong hair from the donor. It becomes important to understand what hair is good and what hair could potentially fall out after a few years.
Follicular Unit Extraction, is the movement of genetic groups of hair
known as follicular units (FU). These “bunches” of hair average between 1 to 4 hairs per unit. A micro cylindrical surgical punch surrounds the FU. For the best extraction of the hair units, the donor area is shaved. Shaving allows for the extraction to be spread out, makes for more efficient extraction and reduce the risk of damaging the hair follicles.
The FUE donor safe zone
FUE relies on a wide donor safe zone. The zone stretches from ear to ear around the head. The higher the better, from the nape area up. A wide surface area and good donor hair density to extract from. The area is divided into three sections. Each side and the back of the head. The sides contain a higher concentration of single and two hair units. Whereas the back has a higher concentration of three and four hair units. By splitting up the safe zone it is possible to calculate whether the donor is good for FUE. And if the case, how many grafts can be extracted now and in the future.
Just because the FUE donor surface area is wide does not automatically mean a high number of grafts are available. With an average to low hair density removing too many hair units can result in a thin and obviously scarred donor. As hair loss is progressive the donor zone can shrink. From Norwood 2 to Norwood 7 the hair loss is not the only change. The surface area of hair around the back and sides of the head also changes. The safe zone of genetically strong hair reduces in size.
Let´s see the dilemma. Your treat your hair loss with FUE when you were a Norwood 3. Five years later your hair loss pattern has progressed further. Your crown has dropped down the back of your head a little. As well as your sides. Unfortunately, hair was removed from both these areas five years earlier. As a result, your first FUE hair restoration is becoming thinner and patchy.
FUE donor over-harvesting
A harvesting protocol is vital when planning your FUE. As the surface area size does not change. The more hair removed only makes the remaining hair density lower and the hair coverage less thick. Without a protocol, how may hair units is too many to be removed? If this is not managed it create issues in the future.
What´s the result of an only average safe donor and going for big numbers in one or multiple FUE procedures? It leaves large “hairless” areas. More visible scarring. Patchy hair density and hair growth. All resulting in a donor zone badly impaired. Not being able to sustain long term hair restoration. So, how much is too much to remove?
In real terms and % figures for the surface area. The average donor will have around 12-14,000 follicular units in total. Removing 25-30% on the right candidate can still leave an evenly dense donor area. Removing 50%, for example, is a little like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Planning your FUE – lasting hair and quality donor
Performing FUE is akin to performing multiple mini operations. Every extraction being a minor procedure. It´s easy to blame a technique for a poor result. But in reality, it is how FUE is performed.
It is very important to understand the importance of choosing the right FUE doctor. Don´t be swayed by location or price, or high numbers. And especially, “new” or the latest versions of FUE. It is critical to focus on expertise in Follicular Unit Extraction.
Do I make a good FUE Candidate?
Here are a few questions for you to consider:
Are your goals compatible with FUE?
Do you understand the limitations to the FUE technique?
If your hair loss progresses and FUE is not possible are you prepared for the FUT technique?
Do you have an average to above average donor hair density?