When it comes to hair restoration, it is sometimes difficult to get all the accurate information to make a conscious decision on which procedure is the most suitable for you. This article will provide detailed comparison between the two most well-known techniques available: FUT Hair Transplant (Follicular Unit Transplantation) and FUE Hair Transplant (Follicular Unit Extraction).
FUT Hair Transplant vs. FUE Hair Transplant
What is Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) ?
FUT is the technique in which the donor strip from the donor zone (normally in the sides and back of the scalp) will be removed and grafted on to the area where the hair needs replenishing. After that, the hair follicles will be harvested from the strip and individually implanted to the recipient areas. As for scarring, this will usually consist of a continuous and linear scar.
What is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) ?
On the contrast, follicular units are harvested from a considerably larger area to gain a sufficient number of grafts. The surgeon will extract each separate follicle on a one-by-one basis by small circular incisions so the scars are look round and tiny. These individual follicles are then transplanted in the areas that are affected. This is a long process which may be done over separate sessions or in a very long one.
Factors to compare FUT and FUE
Scars after hair transplant procedure
When it comes to scarring, FUE is certainly the best procedure if the patient doesn’t want to have a long and visible scar while FUT will always leave one linear scar on the patient. With FUE, Advanced Therapy in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery by J. Thomas in 2010 outlines that: “The FUE donor sites heal as undetectable dots on the scalp”. The scar resulting from FUT method is approximately 1mm or less which is determined by the amount of follicles harvested.
However, in the follow up FUT procedures, the new donor strip can be taken from the previous scar. Therefore, no matter how many procedures he gets, the number of linear scars are minimal.
When measuring the actual scarring caused by these procedures, the scar area in FUE procedure is 7-10 times greater than the scarring from FUT. The main difference is that the FUE scarring is diffuse (scattered throughout the scalp) while the scarring from FUT is localized in the area of the strip. What this also means is that the patient’s “donor bank” is the permanent hair on the back and sides of the scalp available for future procedures, is less when the patient begins with FUE as opposed to FUT.
Because a small strip is taken and the rest of the donor zone is unscathed using FUT method so we can usually go back to the same area in the scalp multiple times, but if not, there is often space above or below the original incision to take a new strip. With FUE procedure, you can only harvest so many follicles from the back and sides before the donor hair begins to appear too thin.
Processing Time & Cost of each procedure
Due to the fact that FUE is a much longer process than FUT, the costs will be much higher when it comes to FUE because, for obvious reasons, the patient is taking doctors much more time to work on each of individual graft.
However, many clinics are currently using the technique of handheld devices and also utilize the development of the ARTAS Robotic system or Neograft machine for FUE method, which helps to reduce significant amount of time and cost. These technologies save time but the quality of extracted grafts and the transaction rates are high, so in the end, the patient pay more money for a system with less yield.
The recovery time is a major talking point when it comes to which method is better. FUE generally has a much shorter recovery time before the patient can exercise and return to work. This is because no stitches are used and fewer follicular units are damaged.
The initial recovery time for both FUT and FUE is six to eight days. The time it takes for hair growth to appear in both procedures is around 3-6 months.
After FUT procedures some patients might feel uncomfortable due to swelling donor area. However, it is manageable and some pain killers can be prescribed. On the other hand, FUE procedures do have a faster healing time and less post-procedure discomfort compared to the traditional FUT procedure.
Which Hair Transplant Procedure Is Better For Me?
FUE method is recommended for the following targets :
- Young people who love to change their hairstyle because tiny dot scars of FUE treatment permits any hair styles. Moreover, it helps to boost self-esteem since the scars are invisible.
- Short hairstyle lovers. In FUE, the tiny non-pigmented dot scars remaining after the treament are difficult to see, which makes FUE favorable by people who like to crop their hair or love a very short haircut.
- People who already had treatment before – Even the patient took FUT procedures before, it is highly recommended to get FUE for the following time because the result will be less intrusive.
There are many new companies today selling expensive machines to automate the FUE process. They market these machines as not even requiring the physician to operate them. Regardless of which treatment you choose, beware of ‘too good to be true’ advertisements and ensure that an experienced hair transplant surgeon is performing their procedure and not a technician. In addition, don’t believe the hype that these companies are advertising that FUE is scarless. It actually creates more scarring when measured per centimeter, the only difference is that it is pinpoint diffuse scarring as opposed to the linear focused scarring in FUT.