Should I get FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) or FUT (Strip Method) Hair Transplant?
A question Dr. Smith often gets from patients interested in hair restoration is whether they should go with FUE or the Strip Method. And while FUE, or Follicular Unit Extraction, is the latest of the two, employing the most cutting-edge technology, both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
How Strip and FUE are the same
It’s important to understand that both the Strip Method and FUE follow the same procedure for the second part of the process – the transplantation. They both involve placing individual follicular units into individual, microscopic transplantation sites in the balding area. And they both can achieve terrific results with a skilled surgeon like Dr. Smith. Where they differ is in the first half – how those follicular units are “harvested” from the donor area of the scalp.
The Strip Method
First a quick explanation
The Strip Method is called this because it starts with removing a strip of hair from the back of the head in order to harvest its follicles. This “donor region” at the back of the scalp is resistant to hair loss and makes those hairs ideal for transplanting to balding areas of the head.
Once the strip of hair has been removed, Dr. Smith and his team dissect it, using high-power microscopes, into follicular units of 1-4 hairs in preparation for transplant. The Donor area is closed with sutures, so that only a very faint line is made on the back of the scalp at the harvest site.
As we’ve discussed, the transplantation process for Strip and FUE are the same, they both involve not only precision in placing each follicular unit but a certain amount of artistry to achieve a natural-looking result. Dr. Smith’s long experience from the many, many procedures he’s performed and his additional years of study and practice as a Facial Plastic Surgeon provide him this unique ability among his peers.
In the “Pros” column for the Strip Method, are time, price and hair viability.
– Because the harvesting part of the process is faster in Strip, the whole procedure is shorter than FUE.
– With less time required to perform the procedure, the cost of the Strip Method is a little less than the alternative.
– And the Strip Method provides a slightly higher survival rate for the transplanted follicles. In either transplantation technique the transplanted follicles experience some “shock” in being moved from one site to another. In the Strip approach, the hair follicles are outside of the scalp for a shorter period of time, they’re also dissected on the lab bench, using microscopy, ensuring all the essential elements of the follicle are retained. This provides for a greater chance at viability after transplantation, in the range of a %10-%30 increase over the alternative method.
– The one downside, and it depends on how the patient intends to wear their hair, is that the Strip Method creates a super-fine linear scar across the donor area. Unless the patient plans to shave their head or wear a very short, “military-style” haircut, this scar should be essentially invisible.
FUE – Follicular Unit Extraction
Like the Strip Method, FUE harvests hairs from the region of scalp at the back of the head most resistant to hair loss. But unlike in the older approach, FUE extracts each follicular unit individually, directly from the head. This is done using the latest-technology, such as the Neograft(TM) machine. In this approach, Dr. Smith and his team perfectly center and angle a millimeter punching device over each follicle for extraction. The follicles are then ready for transplantation, without having to go through the step of dissecting the strip.
– the “Pros” side of the ledger for FUE is that there is essentially no visible scar in the donor area. Technically there are microscopic scars from each follicular unit extraction site, but they’re millimeter dots which almost disappear to the naked eye. This allows the patient to wear their hair as short as they like with a minimally visible scar.
– The FUE approach is more time-intensive, as each follicular unit must be extracted with exacting precision.
– This means that the procedure generally costs a little more than the Strip Method.
– And because of the additional time the follicles are outside of the scalp and the precision required in extraction, FUE-transplanted follicles have a slightly decreased survival rate when compared with the Strip Method. Though for many of Dr. Smith’s patients the versatility in hair lengths allowed, being able to shave their head or buzz the back at the shortest setting, offsets these downsides.
At the end of the day…
At the end of the day, in Dr. Smith’s expert hands, you can have terrific, natural-looking results with either approach.
If you’re interested in hair restoration or just have some questions, get in touch with us. We’d love to talk with you.