The Difference between a hair and a follicle/graft
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Hair naturally grows in groupings of 1 to 4 hairs. This group is called a ‘follicular unit’ or more commonly known as a hair follicle or a graft.
You can have follicular units of one, two, three or four hairs, but they are all distinct anatomic entities, so keeping them intact during the harvesting process from the donor area maximises the chances of successful regrowth once they are implanted into the recipient area of the scalp.
A follicular unit will contain a single hair or multiple hairs grouped together, and also contains sebaceous (oil) glands, nerves, a small muscle, and occasional vellus hair, which are finer than the normal scalp hair.
One of the skills in surgery is selecting the correctly sized follicular unit for a recipient specific area in order create the natural look and to optimize the density – for example, the hair line zone will require many single follicle units in the first few millimeters and then double hair units; whereas filling in on the central parts of the head may benefit from units with 3 or 4 hairs.
The goal is to maximise the cosmetic impact of the transplanted hair, and to ensure optimal growth. Follicular units are also referred to as ‘grafts’, so when the surgeon speaks about the number of grafts required for a transplant he’s talking about the number of follicular units he can safely take from a donor area to cover the balding regions of the scalp.
Hair Transplants are priced based on the number of grafts
There are two primary methods of taking grafts from the donor area; Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), which uses a punch-like tool to excise individual follicular units of varying sizes, and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) during which the surgeon takes a strip of scalp from the donor area at the back of the head and dissects it into individual follicular units to use for implantation.
The number of grafts required will depend on individual patient factors such as hair density; availability of hair in the donor area and the characteristics of that hair, as well as the degree and progression of baldness.
Hair transplant surgery prices should always be based on the number of grafts transplanted, and not the number of hairs.
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