Certain doctors have been aware of follicular units for a long time now, but the knowledge only recently made its way into hair transplant methods. Now these ideas are being used in hair restoration every day.
To understand how follicular units have affected hair transplant surgery practices, it is necessary to first understand what a follicular unit is. A follicular unit is a single entity that is made up of several parts. All these parts are necessary to the whole.
The first part, and the one most people getting hair transplant surgery are interested in, is the hairs. There should be one to four full hair follicles in the unit and one or two fine hairs as well. There are sebaceous glands in the follicular unit which produce oil.
The follicular unit is a living unit with muscle, nerves and blood vessels that are all tiny enough to fit into this small package. The unit is set off by a band of collagen that holds it together. If you look under a microscope at a scalp, you can see follicular units growing in just this way.
The idea of bringing this information into hair transplant procedures led to innovative surgical methods. Rather than just moving around individual hair follicles, surgeons actually moved a unit which contained everything the hair needed to keep growing. The results were ground-breaking.
One way surgeons used to move the donor follicular units to the balding areas was by single strip harvesting. This is done by moving small strips of tissue containing follicular units. This method keeps the units intact and ready to transplant. Earlier methods such as mini-grafting and micro-grafting broke up the follicular units.
As a part of the hair transplant process with Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), a new microscope technique was used. It is called stereomicroscopic dissection. This means that the follicular units are carefully taken out of the donor tissue and kept individually intact.
When doctors use hair transplant procedures with FUT, they do not have to use quite as large of a donor site. The follicular units are small and they can be separated from tissue that has no hair, under the microscope. That way, only the tissue that grows hair is transplanted. It is a much more efficient procedure in that way.
Follicular units placed during hair transplant procedures are put into tiny holes the size of needles. The insertion sites heal quickly, and they leave no marks. This makes for a much more comfortable recovery and better results.
FUT hair transplant procedures can make a big difference in the number of times a patient will have to go back for more treatments. More grafts can be done at one session, so that the patient has to go back fewer times. This is more convenient to patients.
Hair transplant done using follicular unit procedures is becoming more and more the norm. Possibly this is because it puts hair into the scalp in the same arrangement as it grows there naturally. This represents a leap forward in hair transplant technology.