FUE Unshaven Hair Transplantation

  • Best Results10+ months
  • Treatment Recovery1-4 days
  • Procedure Time3-8 hours
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsPermanent
  • AnaestheticBlocks, sedation
  • Back to Work1-2 days
  • Cost$$$$$

FUE Unshaven Hair Transplantation

Unshaven FUE (follicular unit transplantation) as the name suggests, means that the donor site is kept long. This enables the patient to hide the donor site, providing a more discrete healing time. This procedure involves pre-trimming selected hairs on the day of hair transfer, followed by follicular unit extraction & then implantation. 

FactsFacts on Unshaven FUE

  • This procedure is the most discrete form of hair transplantation
  • The donor & recipient sites are NOT shaved, hence the name Unshaven
  • Individual hairs or a very narrow strip are snipped on the day of the surgery
  • These individual units are harvested using specialized punches
  • Longer hair covers up the donor areas
  • Unshaven FUE is useful for transplantation of between 800 to 1600 follicular units
  • The donor site is indistinguishable from the surrounding hair offering the ultimate in discretion

What is the difference between unshaven vs shaven FUE?

The extra ‘U’ in U- FUE  stands for unshaven. FUE is a surgical hair transplantation method, favoured over the more invasive strip harvesting method known as follicular unit transplantation (FUT).

FUE accounts for 98% of hair restoration treatments. While most hair transplants require at least shaving the donor area (typically the back and sides of the scalp), U-FUE procedures are performed without any shaving of the donor area for ultimate discretion. This is popular with people who like to keep long hair and do not wish to shave part of or all of their head for a hair transplant.

Where are new hair follicles taken from?

Transplanted hair follicles are sourced from the donor site, predominantly the back of your scalp, known as the occipital area. This area is resistant to male pattern hair loss & provides a good amount of donor follicular units.

The occipital area is the common ground for all forms of hair transplantation including follicular unit transplants (FUT) as well as FUE procedures.

For patients with low hair density, dermatologists also use body hair from the beard, & chest area as possible donor sites. We prefer scalp hair as they contain more terminal hairs compared to body hair.

How do we remove hair follicles without totally shaving the donor area?

Compared to normal FUE, unshaven transplants do not totally shave the donor area. We employ one of three methods-

  1. Strip shaving: means we only shave a strip of donor area (4 to 8 mm long). These strips are hidden by longer hairs above & below the strip area. Conservative numbers of donor follicles can be harvested with this method.
  2. Snip & harvest. This method involves cutting every third or fourth hair shaft from the donor site the day of the procedure. We then go in and harvest the  selected snipped hairs. This leaves uncut hair to hide the donor site.
  3. Total harvest without shaving or cutting: This method harvests the entire hair unit without shaving or cutting. This is the most complex & time-consuming way of harvesting for the dermatologist. Uncut harvesting blunts our instruments faster than cut harvesting method. Can be done, but adds 70-90% more time compared to other methods.

How do we extract hairs from the donor site?

Precise extraction of the hair follicles is paramount for a successful procedure. This is the most demanding stage of any hair transplant surgery as we want viable follicles.

We use special tools known as serrated punches. These measure between 0.8 to 1.1 mm. Under magnification, we extract each and every chosen follicle by hand. These follicles are then checked under a microscope to ensure quality control & follicle viability. These are then stored in petri dishes, awaiting transfer to the bald areas.

With unshaven FUE, the extraction process is significantly longer compared to shaven FUE. Even with taping, lighting & magnification, finding follicles in uncut hair is like finding a needle in a haystack. It can be done, but adds time. In some cases, we schedule this procedure over two days. 

Davin’s Viewpoint on FUE unshaven hair transplantation

This procedure gives the best discretion- result ratio as the donor site is undetectable even one day after the surgery. The downside is the enormous amounts of resources added to the procedure, namely the extra time allowed to snip individual hairs. Unlike shaved FUE, only select hairs are trimmed, usually one in every four to five hairs in the donor area (back of head).

Remember, Unshaven FUE only hides the donor site. The recipient or bald/balding site still requires grafts to be implanted. Hence the true value of discretion is lost in this area.

Ideal candidates for unshaven FUE include patients with long hair, limited downtime, hair loss primarily high up (temples) & with a relatively low graft number; 800 to 1500 follicular units. Discuss this with your dermatologist to see if this method is suitable for you.

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