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An interview with Dr. Alan Feller about his progress with the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure.
 

Dr Alan Feller performs FUE in New YorkHairlosshelp interviewed Dr. Alan Feller to find out about his latest developments with Follicular Unit Extraction also known as HairXfer.

Dr. Feller is a physician who exclusively performs hair transplant surgery at his clinic located in Great Neck, New York. For more info about Dr. Feller visit his website at http://www.fellermedical.com.

 

HAIRLOSSHELP: When did you start performing hair transplants?

Dr. Feller: I performed my first transplant in 1993, and have done so exclusively through to the present.

HAIRLOSSHELP: How did you get interested in doing FUE or HairXfer.

Dr. Feller: I had a conversation with Spencer Kobren about nine months ago during which he asked me what I thought about FUE and Dr. Woods. I told him that I never heard of Dr. Woods and that the idea of moving individual grafts from the donor site was absurd. After a lengthy conversation, and an exhaustive reading of HLH forums, I was able to learn quite a bit about FUE in a short period of time and slowly came around to the idea.

In October of 2002 the ISHRS held their annual meeting during which Dr. William Rassman gave a lecture, complete with video, on the subject of FUE. He was very articulate in defining his experience but, more importantly, he pointed out the obstacles he was running into. He then challenged the audience to take up FUE on their own and to solve the problems. My imagination was fired and I did my first FUE one day after my return to New York. I did indeed run into the same exact problems that Dr. Rassman encountered and came up with several methods to overcome them. In order to further my FUE education and to gain corroboration for my techniques, I contacted Dr. Rob Jones of Toronto. He was the only FUE practitioner who would speak with me and interested in sharing information. He gave me invaluable insight into the work he had done so far and encouraged me to keep improving the techniques I was working on.

HAIRLOSSHELP: How long have you been doing it and how many patients have you performed it on?

Dr. Feller: I have performed FUE on over 50 patients and have not stopped doing them since October of 2002. Most of these patients were standard strip patients who volunteered to let me perform anywhere between 50 to 500 FUE's in addition to FU's. Other patients are those who have large donor scars and want them filled in. I even have one patient upon whom I rebuilt eyebrows with FUE and will be doing a second such patient in August.

HAIRLOSSHELP: What's the average number of grafts you do per session?

Dr. Feller: In a strip case I will average about 1800 FU's per surgery, but will usually max out at 3,000 FU's There is no average number for my FUE patients.

HAIRLOSSHELP: I believe you have developed some custom tools. Can you tell us about them and what they do?

Dr. Feller: I produced several tools and techniques to overcome the obstacles that Dr. Rassman defined during his lecture in October 2002. One such tool I termed a "perforator" as it's function is to perforate the lower dermal layers to allow for the safe and quick release of the target FU from the skin. This simple device ranges in construction from a single spike to a multi-spiked device that slides deep into the skin. I have already posted the drawings from the first Patent application.

There are several more devices I have been experimenting with that are even less obvious than the "perforator" and I will likewise make that information available as my patent attorney allows. I can tell you now that another tool I have been experimenting with for the past 3 months may allow almost any newcomer to perform 500 FU extractions in about an hour and a half with few to no transections. If this device proves to be consistently successful it will change the industry of hair transplantation as we know it today.

HAIRLOSSHELP: Are you going to be making these tools available to other doctors?

Dr. Feller: Yes. All the tools and techniques are available to ALL doctors NOW. I will not hold back information that could help potential patients. I have shared information with Dr. Jones, Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Rassman, Dr. Baumann, and many other doctors interested in seriously practicing FUE. During the Arkansas meeting in February I brought a video of my perforation technique for all to see. I was able to show in a five minute presentation that with the right techniques, FUE could be a practical ALTERNATIVE to strip, if not just an adjunct. The marginalization of FUE began to breakdown as more and more doctors asked how to start using it in their practices.

HAIRLOSSHELP: Are you going to be focusing on HairXfer (FUE) exclusively from now on?

Dr. Feller: I will not focus exclusively on FUE until more data is in. I want to see the long term results of this new surgery before I fully commit. The problem with FUE, compared to strip, is that it is far more technically demanding and so the price for such surgery remains high, not to mention how much longer it takes to do a surgery.

As newer techniques and instruments become available, the price will fall and more patients will opt for this procedure. For now, strip surgery is probably the most reasonable choice. It is a proven technique and leaves very little donor scarring for most patients. Unfortunately, the emergence of the newer FUE technique has confused many patients who are not sure which way to go. I would still get a strip procedure today as it is the most practical and proven method, but the future of FUE is quite bright and will probably command the full attention of my practice in the years to come.

HAIRLOSSHELP: How much do you charge per graft?

Dr. Feller: $12 per graft for hairline FUE's (because these need to be further divided under the microscope) $10 per graft for hair behind the hairline (further dissection is not necessary IF it is densely packed).

 

Dr. Feller extracts a follicle with jewelers forceps during an FUE procedure.

The follicle has not been punched out, but rather is being pulled out.

 

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