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What Is Follicular Unit Transplantation?

Follicular transplants are often used to treat baldness.
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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Follicular unit transplantation is a cosmetic process in which hair follicles are harvested from one area and transplanted into another area. This procedure is commonly used to treat baldness in men, but is also sometimes used to treat baldness or thinning hair in women. It is most common for the follicles to be harvested from the back of the head in a single strip. The width of the area that is harvested depends on the area on the top of the head that will be treated with transplants. The process is called follicular unit transplantation because the follicles are collected in units that usually include between one and four follicles.

As the units that are harvested are so small, follicular unit transplantation is done with the aid of microscopes. This allows the doctor performing the procedure to get a good look at the follicles while they are being harvested. This also allows for the doctor to select follicles based on quality.

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One of the benefits of follicular unit transplantation is that the person undergoing the treatment is both the donor and the recipient of the transplants. This means that someone undergoing follicular unit transplantation is actually using his own natural hair to cover an area that is either bald or has begun to experience hair loss. After the follicular units are transplanted in the new area, they will continue to grow just as they did before they were harvested and moved. Also, as the follicular units are harvested in a strip from the back of the head, the units are often uniform in terms of the average number of follicles in each unit and the general quality of the hair that the follicles produce.

One of the cons of follicular unit transplantation is that, in order to complete the treatment, the hair has to be cut incredibly short. This allows the doctor completing the procedure to access the area from which the follicular units are being harvested as well as the area where the transplants are being installed. While there is some healing time for the area that has been harvested as well as the area that has received the transplants, recovery from the procedure usually involves minimal pain. Also, the area that is used as a donor area will become thinner as a result of having follicles removed. If the hair is worn very short, the scarring that results from the harvesting procedure may be visible.

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