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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

What is Follicular Unit Extraction and What Other Terms are Associated with the Procedure?

Q: I am considering having an FUE procedure and have heard the phrases topping, capping, and tethering as part of the procedure. What do all these terms mean? — C.C., Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y.

A: These are all terms that refer to the types of injury that can occur to grafts during a follicular unit extraction procedure.

In FUE, a sharp instrument (or sharp instrument followed by a blunt one) is used to separate follicular units from the surrounding donor tissue. Forceps are then used to remove the follicular units from the scalp.

Topping occurs in the first step when the doctor accidentally cuts off the top of the graft so that the remainder of the graft cannot be removed.

Capping occurs when the doctor grabs a graft with forceps and the top of the graft (the epidermis and upper dermis) pulls off, leaving the rest of the graft behind.

Tethering occurs when the bottom of the graft is still attached to the deeper tissues after the first step causing the follicular unit to pull apart during extraction.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, What Happens if Transplanted Area is Injured?

Q: I am a patient of yours who had a hair transplantation procedure done mostly in the crown area and in the front about seven months ago. The hair is just starting to come in nicely and is starting to fill in the bald spots. Yesterday I carelessly banged the top of my head against a beam in my attic and cut a nice gash in, you guessed it, a transplanted area. I’d say that the cut is about a good inch. My wife works for a doctor who is certified in facial plastic surgery and I had him suture up the gash. He did not cut any hair, but it took 4 stitches to close the wound. I’m worried about the impact on the transplanted area. Just when it was starting to come in nice I now have a bald spot that I suspect is going to stay as a result of the accident. Please advise. — V.F., Fort Lee, N.J.

A: There is not much you can do at this time. Depending upon the doctor’s suturing techniques; you may or may not have permanent hair loss from the trauma and subsequent suturing. The problem is that if the sutures are placed too far from the wound edge they can strangulate hair follicles, particularly if there is any swelling. Hair loss may be temporary, but if it is permanent, it should be minimal. Additional grafts can be added at your next hair restoration procedure to cover any area of hair loss and the scar from the injury, if it is visible.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Have a Hair Transplant if My Scalp is Tight from Prior Surgery?

Q: What can be done if I want to have a hair transplant and my scalp is very tight from prior surgeries? — R.R., Long Island, N.Y.

A: Follicular Unit Extraction is ideal in very tight scalps, provided that there is enough hair to extract without leaving the donor area too thin and provided that the follicles are not too distorted from the scarring.

With strip harvesting, undermining techniques may be helpful to close the wound edges once the strip is removed.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can a Hair Transplant Grow Hair Over a Scar From an Injury?

Q: I have a scar on the top of my head the size of a quarter from an old injury. I would like hair to grow back on the bald spot. Can a hair transplant re-grow hair on the spot and not have any scar on my head at all? – E.D., Oceanside, N.Y.

A: Traumatic scars are readily treated with follicular unit hair transplantation. The hair generally grows quite well in scar tissue as long as the scar is not thickened (hypertrophic). Several sessions are usually required. Although the hair restoration can make the bald area undetectable, the underlying scar tissue will still be there.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Follicular Hair Transplantation Makes Splash After Bernstein Introduces Procedure To American Academy of Dermatology

Cosmetic Surgery Times
Cosmetic Surgery Times - April 1997

Cosmetic Surgery Times features Dr. Bernstein’s presentation to the 55th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in their April 1997 issue.

The article describes Dr. Bernstein’s introduction of the concept of Follicular Unit Transplantation to the academy as well as the keys to making the technique successful. From the article:

“‘Hair doesn’t grow singly it grows in naturally occurring groups of from one to four hairs. In follicular transplantation, we use these naturally occurring groups as the unit of the transplant,’ he told CST.

Although the procedure is highly labor intensive, it can actually be less expensive than conventional hair replacement surgery, because it can be performed in a single, but lengthy, session.

‘It is also much more efficient and conserves donor hair much better than conventional hair transplants. Every time you make an incision in the person’s scalp you waste some hair and make the remaining hair more difficult to remove. Accessing the donor area just once or twice will increase the total amount of hair that is available for the transplant,’ Dr. Bernstein told CST.”

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