Dr. Edward Ball Reports on FUE Pioneers Meeting in Brussels
5th July 2016
I’m recently back from a great few days at the 2016 Pioneers FUE Meeting of the FUE Europe Society in Brussels, excellently hosted by Dr Christian Bisanga from BHR.
We had speakers from across the globe, including Drs Cole, Shapiro and True from the US and Drs Bisanga, Mwamba and Ferudini from Belgium.
It was a great opportunity to share techniques and pearls with a group of doctors who have a passion for FUE and a shared mission to continually improve our patients’ outcomes. There was a day of live FUE surgery demonstrations and it is always fascinating to see the variety of techniques that we all use.
A dominant theme of the discussion was how we can protect the donor area in our FUE patients. With FUE becoming more and more popular, and patients requesting greater density and coverage, there is a risk of depleting the donor area or harvesting hair from non-permanent areas of the scalp. Whilst a natural-looking result and good density is a priority, it is important to minimise donor scarring, maintain good coverage in the donor area and, crucially, preserve sufficient donor hair to allow for future hair loss.
We spent half of the first day at BHR clinic, hosted by Dr Bisanga, and the other half at MyWHTC hosted by Dr Mwamba. Several patients kindly allowed us to watch their FUE procedures being performed, with manual punches and sharp motorised punches, scalp donor and beard donor, and with forceps placement and the stick and place method. Milena Lardi demonstrated her trichopigmentation technique and we had a presentation on a whey protein supplement aimed at promoting hair growth.
The following 2 days were spent in interactive lectures with plenty of opportunity for questions and answer sessions during which time delegates shared experiences and tips. Dr John Cole (USA) discussed the controversy over the size and location of the safe donor zone in FUE patients and Dr Feriduni (Belgium) furthered the discussion with a presentation on management of the FUE donor in mega sessions. The donor preservation theme continued with Dr True (USA) discussing strategies to optimise donor supply in FUE.
We watched a video presentation by Dr Ziering demonstrating his experience with the ARTAS robotic system and its new recipient site making capabilities.
Interesting discussions were led by Dr Bioulac (Germany) on the hot topic of platelet rich plasma (PRP), demonstrating the lack of a consensus on the optimal protocol (which device to use, activated or not, combined with ACell or not). It highlighted the need for more good research to provide evidence-based guidelines.
An excellent talk was given by Dr Schambach (Guatemala) on the topic of beard restoration. Many of us have noted that beard transplants are increasingly popular in our practices, due to changing fashions and an increased awareness of this available treatment.
The controversial subject of body hair transplants was discussed by Drs Mwamba (Belgium), Oztan (Turkey) and Cole (USA). Although some doctors reported pleasing results using body hair, the general consensus was that beard hair can be helpful in the midscalp and vertex but that leg/arm/chest/back/axilla can give disappointing results. Dr Mwamba suggested that combining with PRP and targeting hairs that are in their anagen growth phase tends to give the best chance of a satisfactory outcome.
Dr Ron Shapiro (USA) gave an interesting talk on the merits of using Hypothermasol graft holding solution and Liposomal ATP to provide the optimal environment for grafts when out of the body and using Liposomal ATP as an aftercare spray to promote healing and graft survival. I am a big advocate of these agents myself and was surprised by how many doctors surveyed at the meeting did not choose to use them yet.
An excellent conference – interesting lectures, stimulating debates and a great opportunity to meet and share techniques with likeminded, enthusiastic hair surgeons from all over the world.