Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - Stereo-microscope
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Q: I went to a hair transplant doctor for a consultation for my hair loss and he said that it was not that important to use microscopes for hair transplants. I had heard that it was. What’s the deal? — V.F., Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y.

A: It is extremely important to use microscopes when performing hair transplants. It is the only way that follicular units, the naturally occurring groups of hair follicles, can be isolated from the donor tissue without damaging them.

Other techniques, such as magnifying loops and back-lighting are not as precise. Using microscopically dissected follicular units in hair transplants has been the main advance that has allowed doctors to move away from the older mini-micrografting hair restoration techniques to the current procedure that can produce totally natural results.

See the Graft Dissection page.

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Q: I had a hair transplant of over 600 grafts using Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) to my frontal hairline and the frontal part of my scalp. The procedure was done less than a year ago by another doctor. Since then I have had persistent pimples and redness in the area that the grafts were placed. Also, the surface of the skin in the area is irregular. — E.Z., Long Island, N.Y.

A: One of the causes of having pimples and redness following Follicular Unit Extraction may be buried hair fragments and there are significantly more hair fragments generated with the two-step FUE technique than with the three-step method.

In the three-step procedure, we use blunt dissection which minimizes transection (cutting of hair follicles) and thus reduces the incidence of hair fragments. See the Three-Step FUE page at the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website.

In our practice, we also place every extracted graft under the microscope. This serves a number of purposes:

  1. It gives me immediate feedback on transection rates, so that I can adjust my technique in real-time (using a stereo-microscope is much better than visual inspection for this purpose)
  2. It enables us to trim away excess tissue and hair fragments (we use the same judgment as we do with strip harvesting, so that a “viable looking” fragment would be left attached
  3. It allows us to accurately count the number of hairs in each follicular unit graft, as it is particularly important to have pure 1-hair grafts for the frontal hairline. This also allows us to better anticipate the end cosmetic result.
  4. It allows us to dissect larger follicular units into smaller ones for specific cosmetic purposes, i.e. eyebrows, hairlines, temples etc.

One of the ironies of FUE is that it is more efficient to extract the larger FUEs, since this gives us a greater hairs/hole ratio, but this often leaves us with an inadequate number of 1-hair units, which must be obtained though traditional stereo-microscopic dissection of the larger extracted grafts.

Other causes of folliculitis (manifested by pimples and redness) can result from placing the grafts too deep in the recipient site (where they may get buried) and secondary infection. A mild, transient folliculitis is often seen after a hair transplant without any precipitation factors.

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Q: Why are strips used so much in a hair transplant when there is now Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)? — E.N., Long Island, N.Y.

A: Strip harvesting is used in the majority of hair transplant procedures because it allows the surgeon the ability to perform hair transplant sessions using large numbers of grafts while minimizing injury to the patient’s hair follicles.

This is possible because once a strip is removed from the back of the scalp, the tissue can be placed under a stereomicroscope where dissection is accomplished using direct visualization of the follicular units. This allows the grafts to be dissected with minimal trauma.

This degree of accuracy is not possible with other hair restoration techniques, such as FUE, where the separation of follicular unit grafts from the surrounding tissue is accomplished “in vivo” (directly from the scalp).

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Follicular Unit Transplantation - Dermatologic Clinics“Dermatologic Clinics” is a quarterly review with comprehensive, state-of-the-art information by experts in the field of dermatology. The industries most highly knowledgeable medical professionals provide current, practical information on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the skin. Each issue of Dermatologic Clinics focuses on a single topic. The July 2005 issue, entitled “Advanced Cosmetic Surgery”, published an article authored by Robert M. Bernstein M.D, and co-authored by William R. Rassman M.D. entitled “Follicular Unit Transplantation: 2005.”

In their article on FUT, the authors helped the dermatologic community to better understand the best practices of surgical hair restoration. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) focuses on recognizing that the follicular unit is a discrete, anatomic and physiologic entity, and that preserving it through stereomicroscopic dissection is the best way to ensure the natural appearance of the hair restoration. Dr. Bernstein explains why this major step has brought hair transplantation into the twenty-first century.

This chapter also points out that the issues yet to be resolved in hair transplantation include determining the maximum density and number of grafts that can be used safely in a single session, deciding whether it is preferable to pre-make recipient sites or immediately place grafts into sites as they are made, and defining the precise role of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

The authors conclude by stressing that the essence of providing the best care for hair transplant patients rests on proper patient selection, establishing realistic expectations, and using non-surgical management for young persons who are just starting to thin. When surgery is indicated, Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation is the ideal hair restoration procedure.

Read the publication Follicular Unit Transplantation: 2005

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come - O'tar NorwoodThe following is a portion of “An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” an editorial written by O’Tar T. Norwood, MD — founder of the Norwood Classification System for Hair Loss — and published in the May/June 1997 issue of “Hair Transplant Forum International”:

I just returned from visiting Dr. Bob Bernstein in New York, and was impressed with his operation and even more impressed with his thoughts, observations, and insights into hair transplant surgery. He applies scientific methods to his work, is academically honest, and has an almost eerie instinctive knowledge of hair transplant surgery. Of course he has Dr. Bill Rassman to work with, but it is still remarkable. Dr. Bernstein is best known for introducing follicular transplantation to hair transplant surgery, an idea Bob Limmer has been pushing for ten years with the use of the binocular microscope, but no one would listen to him. Dr. Limmer, however, never used the term follicular transplantation. Using the microscope, you automatically dissect the follicular units. It can’t be avoided if done properly.

To read the full article, visit “An Idea Whose Time Has Come” in the Hair Restoration Papers section of our website.

Reference
Norwood O. “An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” Hair Transplant Forum International 1997; 7(3): 10-11.

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