FUE vs. FUT Hair Transplants: What’s the Difference?

“One of the most important choices a patient must make is whether to have a FUT/ Strip or FUE hair transplant. A long, thin layer of tissue is removed from the donor…

“One of the most important choices a patient must make is whether to have a FUT/ Strip or FUE hair transplant. A long, thin layer of tissue is removed from the donor region in the back and sides of the scalp in Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT/ Strip), and the individual follicular units are removed from that strip through stereomicroscopic dissection. The wound edges are then stitched together, leaving a single, fine scar. Hair is extracted through small circular incisions over a much larger region of the donor zone in Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), leaving thin, oval, white scars.”- says Dr. Gajanan Jadhao who is one of the best Pune based hair transplant surgeon.  

“FUE procedures have increased in popularity as new handheld devices have been developed, especially after the advent of the Robotic Hair Transplant System, but FUT or “Strip” procedures continue to provide excellent results and are still considered the “gold standard” by many doctors. In this post, we will compare and contrast the benefits and disadvantages of FUT/Strip vs FUE.”- says Dr. Jadhao.  

Key Benefits   

The primary benefit of Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT/Strip) is that it normally (but not always) results in the highest hair yield. FUT should be considered when a patient’s primary objective is to reach optimum fullness from hair restoration. This is due to a variety of factors, including the precision of stereo-microscopic dissection and the potential to collect from a more targeted region of the donor zone.   

The key benefits of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) are that it does not leave a longitudinal donor scar and that it heals faster. FUE is ideal when the patient’s main objective is to be able to cut their hair short or return to strenuous exercise quickly. Where there is a higher chance of a widened scar or when scalp laxity (looseness) prevents a strip excision, FUE is recommended. Even though a linear donor scar can be easily covered by the patient’s hair, the patient may choose FUE to prevent the stigma of a linear donor scar.   

Is it possible for the same person to have both FUT and FUE?   

Yeah, indeed. FUT may be used to optimize the yield of the initial procedure(s), but the scalp may become too tight to conduct additional FUT/strip procedures in subsequent sessions, or the donor scar may become wider than anticipated. In the first instance, the doctor will turn to FUE for the following sessions. In the latter case, the surgeon can harvest follicular units using FUE and then implant them into the expanded scar to conceal it.   

If FUE is used first and the yield is less than what the doctor considers appropriate, the patient will opt for FUT for the remainder of the procedure or in future surgeries.   

Scarring of the Donor Site  

When it comes to the scarring left in the donor region after FUT and FUE operations, there are a few main variations.   

The strip is taken from the donor area’s midpoint, and the wound edges are then sewn or stapled closed, leaving a single, usually fine scar. Although this can be seen if someone’s hair is cut really short, it is normally covered by hair and out of sight. When an individual has a second strip procedure after a previous FUT hair transplant, the first scar is removed when the subsequent donor strip is excised. As a consequence, regardless of how many FUT operations the patient gets, they will only have one linear scar.   

Even with short hair, the tiny white dot scars that linger after FUE can be difficult to see. FUE is common among people who have a very short hairstyle because of this. If the patient undergoes a second or third FUE operation, the dot scars from such operations are combined with those from the first. This scarring has the potential to deform neighboring follicular units, making future sessions more difficult. This is another aspect that restricts the total number of donors available in FUE.   

FUT vs. FUE Graft Quality   

To get the most cosmetic gain from hair restoration, it’s important to use high-quality follicular unit grafts in both procedures. Grafts of high quality are those that come from the most permanent part of the donor area, are undamaged, and have a protective layer of tissue surrounding the follicles. The protective dermis protects the grafts from mechanical damage during insertion and drying once they’re out of the body. In contrast to manual FUE techniques, the consistency of grafts in FUE is higher and more compatible with robotic FUE hair transplant technology, minimizing the substantial gap between FUT and FUE procedures.