In recent years, an increasing number of men suffering from hair loss have been turning to FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) hair transplantation to reliably reverse the signs of male pattern baldness. This procedure works by individually extracting hair follicles from more abundant areas of the scalp and implanting each one into the regions where hair is missing. Perhaps the most valued advantage of FUE is that there is no remaining linear scar, unlike with it’s predecessor known as strip surgery (FUT). Therefore Follicular Unit Extraction has become a very high demand choice among males who prefer wearing their hair short.
The results from basic FUE hair transplantation have generally produced excellent coverage and amazingly natural looking results. However in the case of performing hair transplants for black men, specialized instruments and surgical protocols become necessary due to factors like the unique shape of their hair follicles and the toughness of the tissue surrounding these tiny structures.
The Limitations of Conventional FUE Hair Restoration For Black Men
Despite the enthusiasm for Follicular Unit Extraction, the challenges of performing successful hair transplant procedures for black males is a lesser known issue. Members of this demographic who are interested in hair loss surgery are encouraged to educate themselves about the limitations of conventional approaches.
The basic cylindrical design of classic FUE instrumentation is generally suitable for hair follicles that produce straight hair. At the same time, their capabilities become problematic when it comes to extracting curved shaped hair follicles, as is the case in patients with Afro-textured hair.
In black men and women, the curlier the hair, the more aggressive is the curvature of the hair follicle. Because of their shape, these tiny structures carry an enormous risk of being damaged by the cylindrical punch shape of regular FUE instruments. And since damaged grafts cannot produce new hair, this results in disappointing growth.
Besides the issue of curvature, another challenge in black patients has to do with the thickness of the scalp tissue surrounding the hair follicles. Because of this density, surgeons have to apply Follicular Unit Extraction punch tools with greater force in order to cut around each follicle. This impact, further contributes to the damage of the grafts.
Ultimately, ethnic FUE hair transplant procedures for black males require specially designed extraction tools designed to overcome the hurdles of follicular shape and tissue thickness in order to harvest viable grafts for desirable hair growth.
The Need for Preliminary FUE Testing
With Follicular Unit Extraction, the success rate for patients with Afro-textured hair has been estimated to be about 30-40%. Black patients who are able to achieve their desired outcomes through FUE usually have softer scalp tissue along with hair follicles that have a straighter shape. Therefore these individuals face less risk of graft damage.
Black patients who are interested in Follicular Unit Extraction performed with conventional FUE tools are advised to undergo preliminary testing. This will help determine transection (i.e. graft damage) rates and their eligibility for full surgery. These tests can be thought of as mini hair transplant surgeries. Small numbers of follicles are extracted and inserted to help determine whether or not the overall growth would be desirable after a full surgery.
Specialized FUE Surgery Tools For Patients of African Descent
Hair transplantation is constantly evolving to best meet the needs of hair loss patients, including special cases like patients with Afro-textured hair. Because of the structural challenges involved, a specialized FUE instruments are now being designed to better accommodate these issues.
The PRS Global Open published a 2016 study on new FUE technology known as Dr.UPunch Curl, which is designed to safely remove curved shaped hair follicles across all black patients, even in those with thick scalp tissue. The study compared the results of three types of FUE extraction tools on 18 patients with tightly curled, Afro-textured hair:
- Conventional sharp rotary punches
- Dull rotary punches
- 2-pronged curved non rotary punch
It was found that the curved non rotary punch performed the best out of the three with a transection (graft damage) rate of less than 5%.
With specialized follicle extraction technologies such as Dr.UPunchCurl, preliminary testing is not needed for performing hair transplant surgeries on individuals with Afro-textured hair.
Instead of a conventional cylindrical punch tip that operates through a rotary motion, this instrumentation consists of a sharp double sided structure (think of tweezers) which excises the tissue around the hair follicle (imagine a banana shape) and safely grabs it from two sides.
With this approach the grafts remain undamaged. Once inserted into the recipient regions of hair loss, the healthy, in-tact follicles can thrive in their new surroundings and produce new hair.
Signs of growth usually start to become apparent around three or four months after the surgery. And continued improvements continue to manifest up to eighteen months.
So what hair transplant cost for black male patients should be anticipated? The overall expense of such a procedure will vary on a case by case basis. Individuals would need to consider factors like the number of donor grafts needed as well as long term planning for future hair loss.
By choosing a specialized approach that precisely meets their needs from the very beginning, ethnic and special case patients can feel a strong sense of confidence from the very beginning of their journey instead of investing in a surgery that may or may not meet their expectations in the end.