Hair Transplantation Procedures: FUE vs FUT
Written by Dr. Griffin
For men or women who are researching hair loss and hair transplantation procedures, you will run across the terms FUE which stands for follicular unit excision and FUT which stands for follicular unit transplant. These terms refer to the method for harvesting follicles for transplantation. Both methods of harvesting result in follicular units for use in transplantation.
Let’s start with FUT. In a FUT procedure, the donor hair follicles which are located in the back and sides of the head are harvested by excising a strip of hair-bearing scalp. This, of course, leaves a wound that has to be closed with stitches. The procedure is done with local anesthesia. The sutures are left in for 3 weeks in our practice to allow for maximal healing and wound strength. The result is a fine linear scar which is covered by the surrounding hair and is not visible if the hair is kept at least 1/2 inch long. The follicles are dissected from the strip under a microscope and yield very nice follicular unit grafts for transplantation.
There are pluses and minuses with FUT vs FUE. Pluses include not having to get a short haircut in the donor area as is generally required in FUE, so it’s easier to hide the procedure afterward. FUT is a better procedure for harvesting in women and in older men because the follicles and surrounding tissue are softer in those individuals, which makes FUE harder to perform safety due to the risk of transecting follicles during harvest in FUE. The main disadvantage to FUT is that one is left with a linear scar which becomes visible if one wants to wear a short haircut at some point in life. It is recommended to keep a longer haircut as mentioned previously.
Let’s now talk about FUE. FUE is also done with local anesthesia. FUE is the preferred method of harvesting in our practice, both from our point of view and from the patient point of view. In FUE the donor follicles are harvested individually using a small punch device. The result is a tiny hole which heals in one week leaving a small white dot behind which is not visible even with a short haircut. It is visible however in a shaved head. With FUE we can harvest from the entire expanse of the donor area including the sides to above the ears. For this reason, we can often harvest greater numbers of follicles than we can with a strip harvest. As mentioned previously, the patient must have a short haircut to 1 millimeter in length for harvesting in FUE. Patients prefer this technique because they are not left with a linear scar which might be visible with a short haircut. It is also a less painful procedure than a strip harvest although pain is minimal and easily controlled with both procedures.
In summary, regardless of the method for harvesting, the result is follicular unit grafts which are used for transplantation. So the results of the procedure are basically the same. The ability to harvest more grafts with FUE is an advantage in those people who require larger numbers of grafts to achieve good results. In both procedures, more than one session may be required to achieve results, depending on the patient’s needs. Your doctor should be able to give you an honest assessment of your needs and the best procedure for you.