Why has Follocular Unit “Extraction" changed to “Excision” for FUE Hair Transplant?

Christopher Pawlinga Surgery Schenectady, NY

Christipher Pawlinga M.D. has won the Top Doctor award for 2017 and 2018 as the Capital Region’s Hair Loss Expert and Hair Transplant Surgeon. Compassion and integrity are the corner stones of his practice. His goal is to pledge exceptional results while providing a customized multi-therapeutic approach to Hair Loss for... more

For years, the frequently used acronym in hair restoration, “FUE”, has referred to “Follicular Unit Extraction.”  The term has recently been changed to “Follicular Unit EXCISION.”  Why? 

This change has become necessary in an effort to emphasize to the public that this is a surgical procedure that must be performed by a licensed physician.

To some of us, it is hard to believe, but there are Centers where the procedure of hair restoration is increasingly being performed by non-physicians, sometimes with oversight or participation by a physician, but shockingly, sometimes not.

The previous use of the term Follicular Unit Extraction as a technique to harvest follicles is no longer considered accurate. “Extraction” has been used to mislead the public into thinking that FUE is not a surgical procedure.  It implies that hairs are just plucked out.  Advertisements claim that there is no surgery and no scar.  Actually, each follicular unit is obtained by cutting through the skin to obtain a full- thickness skin graft that contains fat, hair follicles, dermis, and epidermis. By changing the term Extraction to Excision it is hoped that it will re-inforce to the public that FUE is SURGERY.  It is composed of two steps: an “incision”, a “cut” by a surgeon, and an “extraction”, a “removal” by a surgeon.

The use of “physician extenders” has become an ever growing problem in the US,
even being used in the Hair Restoration field for unethical motives that usually involve time and money for the Center.

As expected, the results from procedures done by these members of the staff who are not licensed to perform them, cause a misrepresentation of the FUE, as well as undesirable results. FUE is not a simple matter of harvesting grafts; hair restoration surgery requires a special fund of knowledge and skills to achieve the best results for your patient, maintaining their donor area, as well as addressing the recipient area. The public then sees results that are cosmetically unacceptable. It gives the specialty of Hair Restoration a bad reputation.

It is hoped that with this change in the definition of FUE, the importance of seeking care from a reputable and ethical physician will become the primary reason for deciding who to entrust with your Hair Restoration Options.