Which hair transplantation method is better? FUT or FUE?
The answer to this depends on several factors. The density and distribution of your donor area at the back of your scalp, how much hair you need to harvest for transplantation and how you like to cut your hair.
FUT (follicular unit transplantation) usually refers to the widely performed strip harvest method. The advantages of this method are that the hair is completely harvested from within the “safe zone”. This is the area at the back of your scalp that has hair that is resistant to hair loss over decades. This hair is the absolute best to be used in transplantation. The strip of hair is divided into the individual follicular units under high powered microscopes and nearly every follicular unit will be available and used for transplantation. There is a very low rate of damaging the harvested follicles. Because only a thin strip is harvested, the hair can be left long enough to cover the stitches and wound, and within days a person is able to go out in public without exposing that they have had a recent procedure.
The disadvantage is that this method requires multiple stitches to close up the wound and these have to stay in for a week to 10 days before they are removed. Under experienced hands, most of these scars will be minimal and heal into a fine thin line, about the width of a couple playing cards stacked on each other.
FUE (follicular unit extraction) refers to the popular harvesting technique of using a punch to remove hundreds of small round excisions. The back of the scalp has to be shaved to the skin and each punch will leave a tiny hole that is left open to scab and creates a small round scar. The advantage of this method is that once the round scars heal and the hair grows out, the small round scars are easily hidden in the hair.
The disadvantages are that in order to harvest many follicles, this often requires extending the harvest over a larger area of the back of the scalp, which can mean some hair is harvested from outside the safe zone. Over years, these transplanted hairs may be prone to future loss. Another concern is that this method of harvest will lead to more damaged hair follicles in the process. The percentage of damaged follicles can be anywhere from 8-20% of the harvested hair. The harvesting process in FUE usually takes longer because it is occurring punch by punch. In most cases, FUE will be more expensive that FUT for that reason.
There is a role for both FUT and FUE in hair transplantation. Matching you with the best procedure and what you are most comfortable with is the job of your experienced hair transplantation surgeon.