Hair transplant techniques have come a long way since the procedure was first performed by a dermatologist in 1952. These days, there are many options for patients to choose from, and differentiating between them can be confusing. The two primary methods of hair replacement are FUE and FUT. While the end result of both procedures is essentially the same (transplantation of individual hair follicles), the extraction process differentiates the two methods.
What is the best choice? What are the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each? While a patient’s specific situation often determines the best treatment method, a potential hair replacement candidate should understand both options to make the best choice.
What Is Follicular Unit Excision (FUE)?
During an FUE procedure, hair follicles are individually harvested from a donor area and implanted into areas where hair is needed. FUE implants leave tiny hypo-pigmented scars in the donor area from the incisions made during harvesting. These scars are typically <1mm and virtually impossible to see when the patient has hair of 2mm or longer.
The Advantages of FUE Replacement
FUE hair transplants offer two primary advantages over the older strip method.
- Quicker Healing Period. Since the hair follicles are harvested individually from the donor area and not en masse, the patient’s healing time is typically much faster.
- Minimal Scarring. For the same reason that the healing time is faster, it is also why the subsequent scarring is minimal. No linear incisions are made in the patient’s scalp, so there is usually minimal scarring.
What Is Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)?
FUT, or the strip method, is a process by which a long, narrow section of skin is taken from the donor area, followed by follicular extraction of individual follicles via dissection under microscope. Because the strip is taken from the area of greatest concentration, this results in the maximum amount of harvested hair.
The manner in which the strip of donor hair is harvested results in a few potential advantages, but the primary two are:
- The surgeon is often able to get the most hair, as well as some of the best hair, in a single session.
- The remainder of the donor area is well preserved for any future need.
While an FUT procedure does run the risk of linear scarring in the donor area, an experienced surgeon is often able to leave a scar less than 2 mm in width, and this becomes virtually unnoticeable if the patient wears their hair 4 mm or longer.
Even though it is an older method, FUT does provide exceptional results. Since the method used can depend on many factors, a consultation is needed to determine the optimal technique.
The Advantages of FUT Replacement
The primary advantage of FUT is this technique’s hair yield. Patients are often able to get the most hair – and some of the best hair – in a single procedure using this method. If a patient requires a significant number of grafts (or desires a fuller head of hair), FUT might be the ideal option. Additionally, when considering the possibility of a second procedure, having an FUT as the initial procedure is a better sequence.
Other Advantages of FUT
- The patient doesn’t need to have their hair cut very short or shaved before the procedure
- FUT is often less traumatic for the individual follicles
- The FUT technique takes less time on the day of the procedure
- The doctor can complete more grafts during a single session
- FUT is usually less expensive than FUE.
Other Differences Between FUE and FUT
Other critical distinctions between the FUE and FUT methods can be difference makers for potential patients.
FUE hair replacement is limited by the number of follicles that can be safely extracted and implanted. If a patient needs a significant number of grafts or wants to complete the process in one session, FUT may be the preferred option.
➣ Future Considerations
If a patient is exceptionally young and might require additional hair restoration procedures in the future, FUT is usually the better option. Repeat FUT procedures use the same donor area, so scarring is limited to one location while FUE procedures can cause the skin to distort from the tiny scars.
Some doctors utilize modern technological breakthroughs such as the ARTAS® robot for FUE hair transplant procedures, which leverages computer-assisted mapping for better results and accuracy… and automates the laborious process of follicle harvesting and implantation. The FUT method can be time-consuming, as each hair follicle is manually implanted, necessitating more frequent breaks by the doctor and their surgical team.
Let Hair Center of Nebraska Help You Choose
The team of hair restoration professionals at Hair Center of Nebraska, led by Dr. Daniel Gross, will help you choose the most appropriate hair transplant technique. Call or contact us to schedule your free, no-obligation hair loss consultation. Get started on your hair restoration journey today.