Physician Answered Q & As

SAFE System FUE Hair Transplant, What Do I Need To Know About This Hair Transplant Procedure?

I have been researching hair transplants for about 3 years and have visited with eight different surgeons and seem to learn something new every time. I am 34 years old and have been losing hair in the front and a little in the crown for 3 years. Since taking Proscar for one year, my hair loss seems to have stabilized. I would go forward with a hair transplant, but I fear getting the procedure may be more detrimental to my looks than just going natural. I see a lot of bad hair transplants and my main concern is that even if I choose a qualified doctor, what can I expect in future? I would rather have the ability to shave my head than have very thin transplanted hair. Ultimately, I would like to do something about it and my solution would be to get a transplant using SAFE fue technique which promotes low transection rates and minimal scaring. Even if I lose a significant amount of hair due to shock loss, I would have at least doubled the thickness with transplanted hair. And in the future, if I don’t like what I see, I can always cut my hair fairly short. My question to you is, are there any known unknown variables I need to consider if I undergo this FUE technique.

Thank you for your letter. I would first like to say that qualified hair restoration surgeons can provide a result that appears perfectly natural; this should not be major area of concern if you pick the right surgeon. Examine the surgeon’s portfolio looking at patients with hair characteristics similar to yours, talk to his/her patients, and examine a patient if possible. This will give you a very good idea of the quality of their work.

You ask a very good question about your future if you have a single surgery. It is highly likely that at your age you will need follow-up surgeries to address further hair loss; you need to be emotionally and financially prepared for this possibility.

SAFE System FUE offers natural results as well as the quality of minimally invasive donor graft harvest. Some of the issues you need to be aware of relate to the scars that are produced, the nature of the FUE process and the fragile nature of the grafts produced. Although the majority of patients can undergo SAFE system FUE with a .75 mm instrument some patients have hair, tissue or graft characteristics that require the use of a 1mm instrument resulting in a slightly larger scar. In either event most patients can wear their hair relatively short, but I never suggest that a patient can ever shave their head after an FUE procedure and have undetectable scars. As small as the scars might be, an extraction pattern may still be visible.

The extraction process is a detailed, intense procedure that requires concentration and attention to detail for many hours. The process of extraction may take 3-5 hours for 1000 grafts. For this reason I limit SAFE System procedures to 1000 grafts per day. In the event that you need more than 1000 grafts, the complete procedure will require more than 1 day of surgery. It requires patience on the part of the patient to have this procedure, but the rapid, essentially pain-free recovery usually make the extra time worth the effort.

Finally, the grafts that are extracted are much more delicate than grafts produced by the strip method. One fact that the majority of FUE practitioners don’t discuss with patients is that due to the delicate nature of the grafts they are subject to multiple handling and environmental factors. What this means in terms of the patient is that there is a possibility of a lower success rate of graft growth. Although there are no published studies, the rate of less than expected growth (as compared to strip grafts) may be in the order of 10%. If a surgeon practicing FUE does not warn you of the possibility of a lower graft survival rate then you are not receiving all the information you need to make an informed decision.

  • Deep Das

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The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons is a consumer organization that selectively screens skilled and ethical hair transplant surgeons. The IAHRS does not offer an open membership policy to doctors practicing hair transplatation, and is the only group that recognizes that all surgeons are not equal in their skill and technique. Its elite membership seeks to represent the best in the discipline, the true leaders in the field of surgical hair restoration.