FUE vs. FUT: The Complete Guide to Understanding Your Hair Transplant Options
What’s better, FUT vs. FUE? Short for follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplant (FUT), these two hair transplant methods are similar, but the great FUE vs. FUT debate rages on. We want to explain which way is best, according to the top hair transplant surgeons in Toronto. You can search online for FUE hair transplant reviews and find that the majority of men and women are choosing this technique today for several reasons.
FUT is still considered to be a traditional, standard approach for many clinics, especially overseas such as in Turkey or India. In North America, FUE hair transplants have taken the lead, and even newer, advanced devices and technology are making phenomenal results possible for a higher number of people. Ahead, we’ll outline both strategies for hair restoration and weigh in on whether FUE vs. FUT is a better overall hair transplant. This is your guide to understanding your hair transplant options.
FUE vs FUT — where did they come from?
Hair transplant is relatively new compared with facial cosmetic surgeries in general. The hair transplant process is about 60 years old, but facelift and rhinoplasty operations have been documented throughout ancient history.
Relocating live, growing hair follicles from one area of the scalp to another is the basic principle of hair transplantation that was founded in the 50s. The methods have evolved, and it’s an understatement to say that early attempts at FUE or FUT were nowhere near the impressively natural-looking results that we see today.
Dr. Orentreich is credited with understanding and pioneering the operation using excised scalp grafts the width of a pencil. These hair plugs were surgically inserted into bald scalp areas. This method of hair transplantation was the primary one throughout the 1980s, even though the hair implants appeared overly large and prominent.
Mini grafting was the term to describe early strip harvesting or FUT. Begun in the mid-1990s, it was a method of cutting out smaller hair follicle grafts from a strip of scalp. Instead of punching out large plugs, a single strip could be excised and sewn shut, then that piece of scalp provided numerous individual and smaller units. It wasn’t long before very fine micro-grafts were being created, dissected under a stereomicroscope to make realistically small implants of 1 or 2 hairs. Due to this new level of detail, FUT advanced as the preferred and even standard choice for most hair transplant recipients. Conversely, follicular unit extraction with a punch tool was put on the backburner for a time.
FUE vs. FUT — Everyone loves a comeback
So, when did FUE become the leading hair transplant method in Canada again? Since the strip method involves removing a large piece of scalp with a scalpel, stitching up the incision, and healing with a scar, hair surgeons have continued to innovate ways to mitigate those concerns. Patients experience pain and prolonged healing because of the invasive nature of the strip approach. The scalp is highly sensitive, and each regular head movement, sleeping, and other activities can aggravate the healing wound.
Ultimately, the FUT scar is unpredictable, and although attempts are made to keep the line thin and faint, scalp tension and numerous other factors have often led to a widened, obvious-looking scar. As well, FUT patients can’t wear their hair short — certainly not buzzed — due to the visible line. No hairs grow in a scar, which means the bigger it is, the easier it will be seen. Too many people have found themselves spending many thousands of dollars on hair transplants only to cover up their head much of the time in attempts to hide scarring.
In the early 2000s, FUE vs. FUT devices gained smart technological advancements. With equipment like NeoGraft and SmartGraft, the carefully calculated precision used to assist the surgeon with graft extraction meant less scalp trauma, less transected (damaged) roots, better graft preservation during handling and transfer, and the ability to transfer a high number of tiny units with less surgeon fatigue. Since the FUE punch tool became smaller and smaller, now units less than 1 mm in diameter are the standard, and the spaces they create are so small that they close in a few days.
The scars created through the tiny punch extractions are minimal, so the effect is that of small white dots dispersed among surrounding hairs, not noticeable to most people. In fact, FUE hair transplant patients can wear their hair short and not even show signs of a procedure if they had a high-quality one. FUE is outright the better method for people trying to avoid noticeable scars. For FUE vs. FUT, the scars are small and round, deliberately diffused over a broad area at the donor site.
Scars from FUT are more prominent, longer, and deeper, making them noticeable and prone to complications like hypertrophy, hyperpigmentation, or expansion. Because hair loss is progressive, many hair transplant recipients want ongoing maintenance procedures at some point in their lives, yet with FUT vs. FUE, the additional linear scars create a very noticeable double line and may not even be possible due to increased scalp tension.
Multiple FUE procedures will also thin the donor region over time, but in the hands of a skilled FUE surgeon, strategically carried out sessions can be done this way without causing a tighter scalp.
The total number of potential grafts from FUE is typically more significant because the units are taken from a broader zone and individually selected using intelligent technology. Specialized equipment supports the selection and survival of each precious graft. Fewer transections of graft roots, fewer dried out or dead follicles, and no disruption to hair growth direction are a few of the additional perks when avoiding a deep scalp incision.
Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages for FUE vs. FUT
FUT: follicular unit transplant, also called the strip method
- The invasive and painful nature of FUT means it can damage scalp nerves and there is a higher risk of infection.
- The recovery time is longer. The scalp incision heals within 2 to 3 weeks on average and comes with a more extended period of activity restriction.
- It is best suited to people who wear their hair at least a few inches long, because they can hide the scar.
- The linear scar can stretch and further widen under tension from any additional procedures.
- Hair growth angles can be permanently altered.
- The transection rate is 5% or higher.
- There is no specific graft number control with FUT (excision is based on the predicted graft yield).
FUE: follicular unit extraction (excision)
- FUE hair transplants are minimally invasive with micro-punch incisions.
- The recovery time is shorter with an average of 3 to 5 days off work. The donor sites close within a few days using no stitches.
- There is no long, linear scar on the scalp.
- The transection rate is lower, and the graft survival rate is higher, depending on the equipment and the surgeon.
- FUE offers greater control over results.
- The process can be repeated multiple times without increasing scalp tension.
What is surgery and recovery like for FUE or FUT?
- Both FUE and FUT are considered outpatient procedures using local anaesthetic with IV or oral sedation.
- FUT will require stitches and the bandaging of the incision after the scalp strip is removed. FUT will typically be a shorter procedure than FUE because of the tedious process of harvesting individual follicles. With FUE, count on reclining on a comfortable bed for anywhere between 5 to 8 hours.
- For either procedure, patients are kept comfortable, and they can relax listening to music or nap throughout.
- Patients are given activity restrictions to follow while healing, which includes avoiding swimming, baths, and hot tubs until the scalp is healed. Washing and regular fitness activity can resume once healed. For FUT, this timeline is roughly one week longer.
- FUT patients can expect to take pain medication temporarily, while FUE recipients often don’t need to.
Hair growth cycles: What are the stages for FUE vs. FUT?
Here’s where there’s no difference at all. Your natural hair growth timeline is set by your biology, and with either method of transplant, those grafts inserted at the recipient site will take a while to grow. In fact, you can expect the relocated hairs to fall out a few weeks after your procedure, but don’t be alarmed! This is a normal part of the healing process, as follicles shed the old hairs to make way for the new. With both methods, follicles will stay dormant for 3 to 4 months. Then wispy new hairs will start to fill in.
What’s the cost of an FUE hair transplant in Canada?
The cost of FUE will usually be higher than the same coverage with the strip method, because the hair transplant team extracts and re-implants the follicles graft by graft. The cost per graft with FUE may be lower if more hairs are in each unit or higher overall for micro-units. Count on a Toronto FUE price of $4 to $6 per unit plus HST. These fees are subject to change.
Ultimately, more patients are choosing to invest in the higher-cost hair transplant, given all the known benefits and advantages of FUE. To have minimal or invisible scarring, a much faster recovery, a flawlessly natural result, and hardly miss work . . . is a tempting choice.
FUE Could Be Right For You If:
If you like to style your hair, and have the option to wear it long or short, or if you’re a busy person and you want a no-fuss, permanent result, FUE vs. FUT will be the winner. Schedule your free consultation with Dr. Cory Torgerson, FUE hair transplant expert in Toronto. He’ll examine you, factor in your goals and needs, then create a customized plan just for you.