It can be disconcerting to see more and more hair on the brush or in the shower drain every morning. For many people, losing their hair can really impact their self-image. We all take our thick, full hair for granted until one day it starts falling out. If you have ever looked in the mirror and thought,” My hair is thinning—I should do something about it,” you are far from alone. In fact, approximately 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States suffer from genetic pattern baldness or thinning hair, and even more are looking for a safe, natural-looking transplant solution.
At Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, we are now excited to offer our patients the latest technology in hair restoration. Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is an extremely effective technology that focuses on optimizing natural looking results. FUE will move a healthy, active hair follicle from the back of the scalp to the front of the scalp and the top of the head. Patients can expect to have a more youthful, healthy full head of hair!
What is hair transplantation?
Although hair transplantation has been performed since the 1950s, techniques for successfully transplanting hair follicles have advanced. Former methods of strip transplantation created unnatural looking results and left a large incision scar on the back of the patient’s scalp.
FUE is a far better solution. FUE procedures relocate “bald resistant” hair follicles from the back of the head to the balding areas on the top of the head. Once transplanted, these follicles that have never been prone to balding naturally grow hair for decades to come.
At Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, we’ve chosen FUE for hair restoration.
Why choose FUE?
You deserve a hair restoration solution you can trust and does not leave a visible scar on your head. We are committed to patient satisfaction and patient knowledge about hair loss. Our goal is to educate patients about all their hair restoration options, build a supportive community, and to help patients. When you choose FUE, you know you’re choosing a solution that:
- Is minimally invasive (no stitches or staples required).
- Is natural-looking (no linear scar).
- Causes little-to-no discomfort (no scalpel involved).
- Features quick recovery time (usually just a few days).
- Allows for flexible financing (our physicians have options to meet your budget).
What are the benefits of Northwestern FUE hair transplantation?
This is the method of filling back in thinning hair that makes sense. It takes your own, healthy hair follicles from the back of the scalp, where they aren’t needed, and moves them to thinning areas where they are needed. This doesn’t take a full strip of hair and plop it down on a balding area. That doesn’t create natural looking results. Plus, it leaves a huge scar on the back of the scalp that is visible when swimming and in other instances.
For many men and women, their hair loss is quite distressing. FUE works to fill back in those thinning areas with active, healthy follicles that will continue to grow hair because the follicles at the back of the scalp are not usually susceptible to pattern hair loss.
What are the advantages of FUE for hair transplantation?
Northwestern Hair Restoration has automated the FUE technique, making it the most advanced technology in the hair transplant industry. Thanks to this automation, which makes for very stable results, ours is the first and only FDA-cleared FUE harvesting system.
The system’s pneumatic controls precisely extract the individual hair follicles. The handpiece does this without the use of a scalpel. The handpiece then instantly moves the follicle down into the storage area of the system where the follicles are lightly misted with a saline solution to keep them ready for transplantation. Again, when transplanting the follicles, our technique can be automated, so we don’t have to manually grab each follicle and move it into a pre-made hole. When transplanting the follicles, we play special attention to the direction the hair is growing so it blends in naturally with the adjacent hair.
Who is an ideal candidate for Northwestern Hair Restoration?
Our system at Northwestern Specialists uses follicular unit extraction (FUE). To be a candidate, we need to be able to harvest healthy, active hair follicles from the back of your scalp. You cannot be fully bald. The functioning follicles will be transplanted into the thinning or bald areas. For most people, this hair on the back of their scalp is resistant to male or female pattern baldness, so the follicles are still active. This hair from the back of the head needs to be balding-resistant for the procedure to be a success. Plus, there needs to be adequate amounts of this hair in the donor areas.
Northwestern Hair Restoration is a good option for patients who want to wear their hair short in the back or on the sides, as there won’t be a big scar across the back of the scalp. Also FUE is a great way to camouflage that scar if you’ve previously had linear harvests from the back of the scalp.
We’ve found that our best candidates for these treatments are noticing increased hair thinning, but the problem areas are not fully bald. That’s why when you begin noticing increasing amounts of hair loss, it is time to call.
How Does FUE work?
We use a punch and pressure method to suction and extract each hair follicle gently from the scalp without disturbing the surrounding tissue, nerves and blood vessels. With controlled placement of each follicle, we are able to create a natural looking appearance to the hairline. Ours is a closed system of FUE. This automated method better preserves the hair follicles to ensure more of them successfully survive in the transplanted area. FUE creates natural-looking hair growth using the patient’s own hair follicles.
How is the FUE procedure done?
We perform these procedures in our beautiful Chicago offices. The first step is to shave the back of the patient’s head. This area on the back of the head is resistant to pattern balding, so the hair follicles there are still viable. The area is then numbed topically. Dr. Schierle uses the FUE system for both extraction and transplantation. For extraction, individual follicles are removed from the donor area on the back of the head. The FUE system extracts these hairs, which consist of 1-4 hairs per follicle, with a gentle pneumatic process that ensures the hairs will have a better chance of being successfully transplanted. The follicles are then pulled up into the storage chamber.
Once enough hair has been harvested, it’s time to transplant the healthy follicles where they can do some good. This system transplants the hair using the FUE “no touch” implantation method. This propriety method doesn’t use a scalpel. Instead, the FUE instrument makes the holes at the optimum depth in the area that is balding, and then the hairs are inserted into these holes.
What happens after my FUE procedure? What will the post-operative care involve?
After your session, your scalp will be tender, and you’ll need some pain medication for few days. For the first couple of days you’ll have bandages on the treated areas, and you’ll receive antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to lower the risk of infection and to calm irritation. Compared to strip harvesting and even the use of scalpels with FUE methods, the Northwestern system is far more comfortable and recovery is easy.
You can wash your hair within three days after your procedure. We’ll show you how to do so. You’ll use a surgical sponge and soapy water to keep the recipient area clean and to sop it from developing crusting on the transplanted follicles. It’s important not to rub, and not to use a towel to dry the transplanted area. For the first week or so, you’ll let that area air-dry. After one week, you’ll be able to shower pretty much as normal.
Are there any side effects of hair restoration treatment?
Patients may be concerned about the down time following traditional hair transplant restoration. In contrast, FUE patients can expect to return to their daily activities just a few days after the procedure takes place. Some typical side effects of the procedure include the inflammation of hair follicles, scalp pain, itching, swelling, infections, or the loss of sensation around the surgical sites. This procedure is well tolerated by most patients.
What results can I expect from hair restoration?
It’s expected that anywhere from 10 to 80 percent of transplanted hair will fully grow back over a period of 3-6 months. Every patient is different, so your doctor can talk with you during your consultation about the specific results that you can expect to achieve.
When will the hair start to grow?
The first two to three weeks after your FUE session can be frustrating, although we’ll explain exactly what is going to happen during your consultation. Over these two to three weeks, all of the transplanted hair will fall out. But this doesn’t mean the follicles have failed to take; it is simply the follicles’ reaction to the trauma of transplantation. Not all of the transplanted hairs will survive — usually around 95-98 percent are successful. The hair follicles then settle in and return to the anagen (growth) phase in 3-4 months, producing new hair and returning fullness to the transplanted area.
What are the risks of these procedures?
These are low-risk procedures because the FUE system is self-contained. This dramatically lowers the risk of infection. That is the main risk of hair transplantation, but we provide antibiotics initially to make that possibility minimal.
Is FUE safe?
Yes, this innovative transplant procedure is safe, effective and produces natural-looking results for both men and women. It is virtually painless and requires minimal downtime, allowing patients to ultimately feel more confident about their hair and overall appearance.