The FUE-ture of Hair Restoration is Already Here.


Not so long ago, hair restoration was an intimidating surgical procedure. Doctors needed to make long incisions and handle the grafts as they cut them into tiny pieces. Then those grafts were painstakingly planted by hand to create results that were typically less than perfect.

Today, thankfully, visible hair plugs and painful incisions on the scalp are things of the past thanks to the advanced method of Follicular Unit Extraction…more commonly known as FUE. 

To get a better understanding of FUE—and how it’s transformed the hair restoration industry—we sat with award-winning hair restoration surgeon, Stephen J. Ronan MD FACS. Dr. Ronan owns Blackhawk Plastic Surgery in Danville, California, and has performed thousands of plastic surgery procedures with a significant amount of them centered on hair restoration. “To say I’m excited about FUE is a drastic understatement,” he explains. “It is creating amazing transformations that take less time but deliver better results.”


Today, thankfully, visible hair plugs and painful incisions on the scalp are things of the past thanks to the advanced method of Follicular Unit Extraction…more commonly known as FUE. 


How does FUE work?

To better understand the benefits of FUE, Dr. Ronan takes a step back to explain the previous method. 

“Before FUE, hair was surgically removed in large strips from the back of the head, chopped up into smaller pieces, and then transplanted in the intended area,” he explains. “The shortcomings of this process were significant—a large scar was often visible after the surgery, numbness, longer recovery, and inconsistent results.”

By contrast, with the minimally invasive FUE technology, a large number of follicles are removed in a single setting and then grafted as a unit. “The grafts are still taken from the back of the head, where patients are unlikely to lose hair, but now they are removed with a device that is less than 1 mm in diameter,” Dr. Ronan explains. “Because the grafting holes are so small, they don’t even require suturing to close.” That means no linear scar.

Dr. Ronan further explains that the grafts—which are extremely delicate—are handled with much less manipulation than the previous traditional strip method. As a result, they are less likely to be “injured”, which means a higher percentage of follicles can be transplanted successfully.

The Advantages of FUE

This side-by-side comparison showcases the benefits of FUE vs. the traditional method.


Modern FUE Hair Transplant Method

  • No sutures or staples

  • Local anesthesia

  • 1mm incisions that leave little scar

  • Natural results – both men and women can wear their hair short afterwards

  • Quick recovery and return to normal activities

  • Fewer restrictions on post-op activities

  • Minimal post-op pain

Traditional “Strip” Hair Transplant Method

  • Long incisions

  • Linear scar on back of head

  • Numbness at donor site

  • Staples or sutures

  • Longer recovery

  • Activity restriction

  • Strips of hair chopped up

  • Plugs


“When you look at the advantages of FUE, it’s easy to see why it’s rapidly becoming the preferred method for hair transplants,” Dr. Ronan says. “There are no sutures or linear incisions, little pain, faster recovery, and better results.”

Considering the simplification of the process due to the advanced technology, we asked Dr. Ronan if any surgeon can perform the procedure.

He was blunt—“Anyone who chooses an inexperienced surgeon to perform their FUE surgery is making a huge mistake.” FUE is a surgical procedure that should only be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, preferably one who is trained in hair restoration. “I’m furious every time I hear a horror story about an inexperienced doctor who performed a hair transplant procedure—and left the patient worse off than when they came in.”

FUE is clearly the future of hair restoration, but only a skilled surgeon—with the proper education, training and experience—can design and implement a successful outcome. 



Stephen J. Ronan, MD

Plastic Surgery
Face, Breast & Body Surgery, Hair Restoration
danville, ca