FUE vs. FUT Hair Transplants: An Overview
If a person is suffering from hair loss, one of the most important decisions they will need to make is which type of hair transplant procedure is the best option for them. The two most common methods used today are follicular unit extraction (FUE) and the follicular unit transplantation (FUT)/strip method. We’ll give you an overview of the two methods.
In FUT/strip, a section of the scalp is removed from the donor area at the back and sides of the scalp, and the individual follicular units are harvested from that strip via microscopic dissection. The wound edges are then stitched together, leaving a single, linear scar from ear to ear. In FUE, the transplant hair is harvested over a much larger area of the donor zone through small circular incisions that are most typically less than 1 mm in diameter. Although FUE does technically leave tiny, round, white scars, they are not visible to the human eye in most cases.
FUE procedures are becoming increasingly popular because they eliminate the visible scarring and lengthy downtime while still providing a natural-looking and permanent result. With an FUT method procedure, the recovery time can take weeks. With an FUE procedure, a patient typically sees a recovery time of only days.
Main advantages of FUE and FUT
The main advantage of FUT/strip is that it can produce a higher yield in less time than an FUE procedure and therefore may be in most cases (not always) a less expensive option then FUE. Some doctors have been practising for many years and using only the FUT method, so they have also become very good at reducing the visibility of the linear scar. They are also able to harvest large amounts of follicular units in much less time because they only have to harvest a full section of donor hair instead of each individual unit at a time.
The main advantages of follicular unit extraction (FUE) are that it does not leave any visible scarring and the recovery time is drastically reduced. If a patient still wants to wear their hair very short or return to their regular routines and life right away, then FUE is ideal. FUE is also the only option when there is no more scalp laxity (looseness) or when there is an increased chance of a wider scar. Both of these reasons completely eliminate the option of having a strip procedure.
It is a good idea to use FUE for any patients who have previously had an FUT hair transplant because the FUE method can also be used to reduce the visible scar from the strip procedure. FUE can also be used when there is no more scalp laxity to do any further strip method procedures. Some patients choose an FUT procedure because they want to get a higher yield for less money and they don’t care about the scar and downtime. In those cases, they can use FUE to add density to the FUT procedure and to “clean up” the linear scar.
Both FUT and FUE have their uses, and opinions will vary depending on who you talk to. To deliver the best care for patients, hair restoration physicians should have an understanding of both procedures. It is always best that you are provided with the best information and then allowed to choose for yourself based on all of the information.
Graft Quality: FUE vs. FUT/Strip
It doesn’t matter which hair transplant method you choose. It is always important to transplant high-quality follicular units to achieve the maximum cosmetic benefit from the hair transplant. The best grafts are harvested from the most permanent part of the donor area, are undamaged, and contain a protective layer of tissue around the follicles. The protective dermis reduces transection during insertion and from drying out and dying when the grafts are outside the body.
With FUT, the donor strip is first removed from the scalp and then, with the aid of microscopes, the follicular units are harvested with their protective tissue intact. There is the possibility of transecting these grafts during the dissection phase.
With FUE, the follicular units are harvested from the donor area one at a time. There is some risk of transecting (cutting) the follicular grafts during the harvesting phase, because only the upper part of the follicle can be seen directly. The direction of the hair follicles below the surface of the skin can only be estimated. However, a highly trained specialist will be able to harvest very high-quality grafts in most cases.
In both cases, if the donor area is not cut deeply enough into the skin, the follicular unit may be extracted without the important lower portion of the follicle, and it may not survive the transplant. These factors can result in lower quality or damaged grafts, making them more fragile and subject to poor growth.
Scarring in The Donor Area
There are several important differences when it comes to the scarring left in the donor area or back of the head after either an FUT/strip or an FUE hair transplant.
With an FUT procedure, the strip is taken from the mid-portion of the donor area. The wound edges are then sewn or stapled closed, leaving a scar that can extend from ear to ear like a smiley face. Most patients will find this annoying as trends change and short hairstyles may be wanted but will not be possible because of the linear scar. At the Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic, many patients who have had previous FUT procedures are even uncomfortable with shaving the donor area for their FUE procedure, because they don’t want anyone to see the scar.
With an FUE procedure, a patient is left with very tiny, white dot scars that remain after the procedure, but they are difficult to see even with short or shaved hair. This makes FUE the popular choice with people who want to have a very short hairstyle or don’t want anyone to know that they have had a hair transplant.
Results from an FUT or FUE Hair Transplant
Although the hair that is harvested from either an FUT or an FUE procedure is done in different ways and there are many differences between them, these grafts are transplanted in the exact same way.
It is important to choose a specialist who has an artistic vision and can design the most natural-looking hairline, giving patients the best results. The angle of the hairs must be done in a precise way to match the hairs around them. It is also important to use single grafts for the hairline and use the doubles and multiples in the central forelock area to add the most density to this key area.
A hairline also looks the most natural when it is designed with softer, more rounded edges instead of the sharp edges that were popular in the past.
Creating the same density with the transplanted hair as the native hairs in that area is also key for making the hairs blend in better. If an area is still too thin or even too full when compared to other hair in the area, it will stand out and therefore start to look “artificial”. Nobody wants that.
Most patients that we meet with at the Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic prefer to use the FUE method for their hair transplant because of the minimal scarring and downtime. They always love the natural-looking results that we are able to give them time and time again.
The Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic
If you are experiencing any level of hair loss, it is always best to find treatment options sooner rather than later. We offer many hair restoration treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical.
For anyone that is experiencing any level of hair loss, we offer a complimentary consultation with Dr. Cory Torgerson, a leading head and neck specialist who is experienced in hair loss and hair restoration options. An assessment will be made during that visit, and a hair restoration plan will be designed to suit your individual needs.
Some hair restoration plans may need multiple approaches such as a hair transplant procedure to restore hair that is lost in addition to other treatment options to “save” the hair that you still have. Many non-surgical options are very effective at slowing down the progress of hair loss such as finasteride, platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), and low-level laser therapy (LLLT).
At this initial consultation, Dr. Torgerson will decide which type of hair transplant procedure is right for you. He will also discuss what is causing your hair loss and the treatment options available to help slow down future loss. So if you or anyone you know is dealing with hair loss, contact the Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic today.