This donor harvesting technique is a full thickness, linear excision of skin and hair, from a narrow zone of optimal density in the safe donor area. Every hair from the removed ellipse is carefully dissected with a microscope to create the tiny 1-4 hair follicular unit grafts. While the donor ellipse is being dissected, Dr. Keene closes the incision using a secure, two-layer closure, which include internal and external sutures. The internal sutures dissolve, and the external sutures are removed 7 to 10 days after surgery. When elasticity allows, Dr. Keene performs a trichophytic closure, overlapping the incision edges to allow hair to grow out through the incisional scar enhancing its camouflage. The advantage to the linear ellipse technique is the high regrowth rate when optimal graft handling and graft preserving techniques are observed.
It also allows removal of concentrated donor hair from the central area of the safe zone, making it less likely to be affected by progressive hair loss in the case of young patients who may be at risk for advanced patterns of hair loss. The area of scar tissue is isolated to the line of the scar and other areas of the scalp and hair remain scar free. Multiple small studies have revealed >95% graft survival.
Dr. Keene sometimes utilizes the S.A.F.E. machine, which also provides minimal transaction through the use of the dull excision technique. This refers to removing each graft with a rotating biopsy type excision, making the excision deep enough to delineate/outline the circumference of the graft part way, and then pulling the graft from the underlying tissue to avoid cutting off the follicles. At times this device may be chosen depending on your hair characteristics. Dr. Keene will judge which device to choose based on the individual patient. She will continue to update her choice of FUE devices as the devices advance.
Each FUE graft leaves tiny dot scars, and in cases where there are thousands of grafts will leave a thousand small dots, distributed diffusely. However, for patients who prefer to wear their hair in a buzz cut, the small dots created by FUE are typically not visible if hair is at least 2 mm long. The absence of a linear incision means patients can more quickly return to all degrees of physical activity and athletics without concern for protecting a healing incision. The FUE technique is also advantageous when donor laxity is not sufficient for the strip donor removal method due to prior surgeries.
It is important for patients to be aware that despite some misleading advertising claims, neither type of donor harvesting technique is completely ‘scarless’. But the FUE donor removal method results in virtually undetectable scars with a buzz cut hair style, depending on factors such as hair color and skin color contrast.
"*" indicates required fields