Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - Micro-grafts
About Header Image

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.

There are a few other terms used as well.

Shredding occurs when the follicular unit is not totally separated from the surrounding tissue and pulls apart upon extraction. Shredding can also occur when the follicular unit was partially damaged in the first step.

Transection is like topping, but here the mid or lower portion of the hairs in the unit are cut.

Buried grafts occur when the graft is pushed into the sub-cutaneous space rather than extracted. Buried grafts can usually be removed, but if not removed completely, may turn form small cysts.

Visit the Follicular Unit Extraction page.

Posted by

Q: What exactly is compression in a hair transplant? — D.O., Short Hills, N.J.

A: Compression refers to the visible tufting of grafts due to the contraction of the grafts from the normal elasticity of skin around it, after it has been inserted into the recipient site. Compression is most commonly seen when minigrafts are used in the hair restoration (minigrafts contain more than four hairs each). Follicular units don’t show visible compression, since they are already naturally compact. However, if more than one follicular unit is placed into the same site, it can exhibit this phenomenon.

Compressed grafts will become less visible as more hair is transplanted to the area, but if they are close to the hairline or in areas where a lot of density may not be planned (such as in the crown) they may have to be removed. In this case, they can be placed under a microscope, divided up into smaller grafts and re-implanted.

Posted by

Q: Why can donor hair become frizzy and dry once transplanted? — G.F., Stamford, C.T.

A: Frizzing and kinkiness is a temporary phenomenon that is part of the normal healing process after a follicular unit hair transplant. During the healing process, the new collagen that forms around the grafts can alter their growth. Over time, usually within a year, this collagen matures and the hair quality usually returns to normal. If grafts have been excessively traumatized or grafts larger than follicular units have been used, these changes are more likely to be permanent.

Dry hair is felt to be caused in part by trimming follicular units too closely and thus removing the sebaceous glands which normally provide an oily film to the surface of the hair and skin. With grafts smaller than follicular units (i.e. with closely trimmed micro-grafts) the risk is even greater.

To prevent this, in the dissection phase of the hair transplant, one should isolate intact follicular units from the donor tissue and trim away excess skin, but not trim the follicular units “to the quick.” Excess trimming, besides removing the sebaceous glands, also makes the grafts more subject to drying, warming and mechanical trauma (particularly during graft placing).

Posted by



Browse Hair Restoration Answers by topic:








212-826-2400
Scroll to Top