When you lose your hair, it can feel like part of your identity is missing. So it’s natural to be curious about what hair replacement options are available.

There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies, topical treatments, and even hair styles for individuals who experience premature hair loss or thinning. But if you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you may want to consider a hair transplant.

Did the word “transplant” raise your eyebrows while simultaneously piquing your interest? Us, too!

Follicular Unit Extraction, or FUE, is a safe and effective way to treat male pattern baldness and other conditions associated with hair loss. The word “transplant” can be a little scary, though — so let’s walk through what this procedure actually entails.

What is follicular unit extraction?

Follicular unit extraction, simplified as FUE and sometimes referred to as follicular unit excision, is a type of hair transplant that extracts individual hair follicles from your skin, and moves them to another part of your body where hair is thin or absent.

You’re basically donating your own hair from one site on your head, and transferring it to another needy location to create a thicker look. (You can thank yourself later).

FUE won’t give you the outdated “hair plugs” look of the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, FUE was created to update the first follicular unit transplantation technique, or FUT. Improvements include more natural-looking and longer lasting results — which can help you feel like you never experienced hair loss to begin with!

How does follicular unit extraction work?

How it works: As you age, some of your hair follicles stop regrowing hairs — leading to baldness or thinning hair. A FUE hair transplant gives new life to your old, unproductive follicles, replacing them with newer follicles that are still able to grow.

Once the transplant is complete and your scalp has healed, the newly transplanted follicles will grow hair in their new home, restoring growth in an area that was previously thinning or bald.

Hair transplant procedures typically begin with the transplant team shaving the sides and back of your head. Then, they’ll usually remove hair follicles one-by-one from the best “hair full” areas on your head, and implant them in needier areas to create a new, natural-looking hairline.

Recovery process: Patients are often surprised at how quickly they recover after an FUE procedure. Most patients will have mild soreness lasting for up to 24 hours and can usually resume normal activity within as soon as 48 hours. You may want to avoid strenuous activity for at least 5 days after the procedure. In the unlikely event you have longer lasting discomfort, OTC anti-inflammatories will be very helpful.

You may also be prescribed routine antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications to aid the healing process, along with routine aftercare instructions from your doctor. Common precautions include waiting several days to avoid washing the transplanted area and refraining from combing your new hair for a week.

How long does FUE take to work?

Within two to three weeks after a FUE, you can expect your newly transplanted hair to fall out — which is totally normal and expected. Occasionally, these hairs may not fall out until several months when the new hairs begin to grow. Either way, fall out is normal and a positive sign of hair regrowth.

Once that happens, you’ll likely start noticing new growth within three to four months.

How long does a hair transplant last?

While FUE hair transplants are expected to be long term solutions for hair loss, it’s possible that as you age, the transplanted hair follicles will thin — requiring a follow-up transplant to maintain your new look. However, you can proactively take steps to maintain your new ‘do and maximize the outcome of your procedure with medications like minoxidil and finasteride — both of which your doctor may suggest incorporating into your hair care routine.

Minoxidil, a topical treatment, helps grow new hair thicker and faster than before, while Finasteride, an oral pill, aids new hair growth while simultaneously preventing hair loss. Lucky for you, we offer both through our online subscription service where we process and ship your refills quarterly so you never run out.

How much does follicular unit extraction typically cost?

The cost of a FUE hair transplant depends on the surgeon and how much hair you’ll be moving. A full FUE procedure can cost anywhere between $4,000 to $15,000 — although some patients may require additional procedures for added coverage or density.

Unfortunately, most FUE hair transplants are not covered by insurance because they’re considered cosmetic procedures, so you’ll likely need to pay out of pocket. That’s why it’s important to choose your doctor wisely, and determine if you’re a good candidate for hair transplant together.

Who is a good candidate for FUE?

FUE is generally recommended for individuals with thinning or balding areas that still have enough hair (aka sufficient donor) to use for a transplant.

If you don’t have enough healthy hair available to transplant to the area of the scalp that needs regrowth, FUE may not be for you.

How is this different from other transplants?

FUE is the most advanced technique in hair restoration. It provides superior, natural-looking results with little to no discomfort, no linear scars, no stitches and a rapid recovery.

Other hair transplant methods include low-level laser therapy, stem cell, and FUT transplants. FUE and FUT are unique options because they use your own hair to stimulate regrowth. Plus, they’re FDA-approved (stem cell therapy is not).

Unlike follicular unit extraction (FUT), where a surgeon may graft an entire strip of skin from the scalp before cutting each strip into individual follicular units, FUE is typically painless, requires less recovery time, and has decreased chances of visible scarring.

Although the procedure may leave behind tiny white dots on your scalp where follicles were extracted, follicular unit extraction scarring is rare. These dots will likely fade over time or be covered by your new hair. After 5 days, most patients should be able to get a fade with a 1 guard to blend the sides with no worries.

Conclusion points: ​​It’s important to know that results for a FUE hair transplant may vary from person to person: After an FUE, patients can expect nearly all of their transplanted hair follicles to grow. While results vary from person to person, the vast majority of our patients experienced robust results. However, the virtually painless procedure is a great option for anyone looking for long-term treatment for hair loss.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

If you would like to learn more about finasteride, please see the full prescription information here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm   or call 1-800-FDA-1088