FUT or FUE
What is FUT? (Follicular Unit Transplantation)
Everyone suffering from pattern hair loss has an area of hair on the sides and back of the head which is unaffected by the balding process. This region is known as the “donor” area. The difference between FUT and FUE is how the hair is removed from the donor area. HRBR is an expert at both FUE and FUT hair transplant surgery.
With FUT, a thin strip of skin containing this hair is surgically removed from the donor area. Due to the flexibility of the skin of the scalp, the incision can be stitched together again. This usually results in a fine scar which is covered by existing hair. Even if the hair is short, the scar should only be detectable on close inspection.
The hair bearing skin is then dissected by highly trained and experienced technicians using high-tech microscopes. Excess skin attached to the graft is removed to ensure that when the hair grows in the transplanted area, it looks completely natural. If this skin is not removed it can lead to an unnatural appearance.
The resulting grafts are known as follicular units. Tiny cuts or incisions are then made in the balding area. The size, shape and angle of the incision is critical to the how natural the result will look. It is at this point that the art meets the science in hair transplant surgery. Prior to making the incisions the surgeon will already have planned the hair transplant design. This is done in consultation with the patient. Thousands of grafts will be placed during the hair transplant.
What is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is another method of obtaining donor hair.
An FUE hair transplant involves the removal of individual follicular units from the donor area on the scalp, one by one. A blunt-tipped punch tool is used to extract the individual hair follicles from the scalp. This procedure was developed because of some patients’ dissatisfaction with the appearance of the linear donor scar on the back of the head following the FUT procedure. However, with a proper surgical technique this scar should be virtually invisible.
Once the hair is removed from the donor area using FUT or FUE the method of transplantation is the same.
FUE: what about scarring?
FUE does result in scarring however the circular scars are usually more spread out across a larger area. For some patients that like to wear their hair very short it is a preferable option as the scars can be less obvious than the linear scar left from the FUT procedure.
Some advertising by commercial FUE hair clinics has stated that follicular units can be extracted from the scalp with “no stitches, no scars, no pain”. As skin cannot be broken without leaving a scar, however small, this is completely false. It is not possible to remove the hair follicle and its root from the scalp without leaving some degree of scarring.
How does FUE compare with FUT?
Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, some of which are listed below;
- For patients undergoing an FUE procedure usually the entire scalp must be shaved in advance of their procedure. With an FUT procedure only the area of hair to be removed is trimmed.
- In an FUE procedure the graft yield is lower than with FUT which means you get less donor hair for transplantation. This is because it is not possible to harvest as much hair.
- In an FUE procedure the growth rate of the grafts is often lower as the accuracy of the punch tool used is not as good as a skilled technician using a microscope.
- A stitch is required in an URFUT procedure; in an FUE procedure no stitches are needed.
For patients that like to wear their hair very short FUE may be the preferable option as the scars resulting from the FUE procedure may be less noticeable in very short hair as they are more spread out.
- Should a patient decide to return for a 2nd or 3rd FUT hair transplant procedure a skilled surgeon can remove the scar from the patient’s previous surgery. With the FUE technique this is not possible and new scars will always be created with subsequent surgeries.
- Before any patient makes a decision as to what techniques they wish to choose, a consultation with a properly qualified consultant surgeon is essential.
For many patients the optimal treatment plan would involve the use of both techniques over the patient’s life and therefore it is important for patients to attend a clinic that can offer both techniques to them.