Hair transplantation in black men: Can we do FUE?

Choosing between FUE and FUSS in hair transplant surgery

There are two ways that a hair transplant can be done nowadays: FUSS and FUE. With FUSS (follicular unit strip surgery), a strip of skin is removed from the back of the scalp and then the area is stitched up. The result is a linear scar or line. With FUE, the back of the scalp is shaved and hairs are removed from the area "one by one." The results is small tiny circular 'microscars in the area where the hairs were taken. the advantage with FUE is patients can wear their hair short in the future without worrying about seeing the scar.

FUE in black men: What the are the main considerations?

Most of my male patients with afro-textured hair want to wear their hair very short. Having a linear scar is not practical. Therefore, the decision on having FUE rather than FUSS is very important. 

Performing FUE on afro-textured hair requires much more skill than caucasian hair. The photo in the top panel on the right shows the typical curved hair follicles in afro textured hair and the photo on the bottom shows the relatively straight hair from a caucasian patient. It's easy to see why removing these hairs with a small punch would be more difficult in the top panel. 

Ensuring healthy grafts: how do I perform FUE in afro-textured hair?

In performing FUE, I focus on being flexible in the instruments I use. I don't start the day thinking that I'm going to use one sized punch over another, or do the procedure one way instead of another. One must be flexible. I generally start with a 1.17 mm punch and then move to 1 mm and then 1.3 mm and see what produced the best grafts. I move from manual punches (that I direct myself) to 'motorized' punches that drill with the help of a motor.  I go from minimal depth punches to deeper punches into the skin. All while looking at the grafts that are coming out to ensure they are healthy. 

Our hair transplant program for afro-textured is consistently able to offer FUE as a good option for hair transplantation. In fact, for most of my black male patients we are nearly routinely doing FUE rather than FUSS - a big change from just 3-4 years ago.






Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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