What’s the difference between FUE and FUT?
26th March 2020
If you’ve started your journey into researching hair transplants, you’ve undoubtedly come across some confusing terms – do you know your telogen effluvium from your platelet-rich plasma? Is FUE better than FUT? It sure can feel like you’re reading a foreign language, but not to worry – help is on hand!
When considering a hair transplant, it’s important to do the necessary research to assess your current situation, the options available and the best solution for you. Whilst this can be a minefield to decipher, once we get past the technical terms, it’s quite straightforward.
There are two techniques to hair transplant surgery: follicular unit excision (FUE) and strip follicular unit transplantation (FUT). The first, FUE, involves groups of hair follicles being extracted individually before being transplanted into the recipient area of the scalp. The second, FUT, is where a strip of skin – complete with hairs and follicle groups – is removed and dissected to separate each hair follicle group into grafts, which are then inserted into the recipient area.
The FUE method involves shaving an area of the scalp and excising follicular unit grafts individually, using a 0.8mm to 1mm cylindrical punch tool. The procedure is usually carried out manually or with a motorised tool and leaves a series of tiny dot scars on the scalp, mostly unnoticeable as they are so small. This excision bit is a surgical step and must be performed by a medically qualified doctor.
The surgeon will make microscopic slits in the receiving area and the follicular grafts will be placed into these recipient sites. The team will ensure the grafts are placed in the best position to ensure the hair looks natural when it grows. FUE requires only a local anaesthetic and is almost completely pain-free after that, but it is usually more time-consuming than FUT. Patients will start to see new hairs approximately four months after surgery, which will continue to grow through for the next 10 to 15 months.
BENEFITS OF FUE
FUE is ideal for patients who like to keep their hair short as it leaves minimal scarring and doesn’t change the direction of hair growth, which can occur with FUT. This technique is also great for younger patients who may only need a small number of grafts, meaning less time in surgery and shorter recovery time. The scars from FUE are small and scattered across the scalp, making them much less noticeable in comparison to FUT. Another benefit to FUE is the surgeon can control the exact number and quality of grafts, potentially leading to a more successful transplant.
Known also as “strip” surgery, this method takes a strip of hair-bearing skin from the scalp, usually at the back of the head as this is where it is most dense with hair. The surgeon will assess if FUT is the way forward by observing how loose the skin on the scalp is and also by the hair density.
Using high-powered microscopes, the surgical team divide up the strip into tiny grafts of individual follicular units comprised of around one to four hairs each. These grafts are then placed in a tissue storage solution until they are needed. The area the hair is taken from is sutured or stapled up and is usually fairly unnoticeable due to the surrounding hair covering it. The site will heal to form a linear scar completely camouflaged with surrounding hair.
BENEFITS OF FUT
The benefit to FUT is that there’s no need to shave the whole head, meaning the existing hair can be kept long and used to cover up the linear scar. It can mean a lot more hair can be transplanted in a day if needed and at lower cost. FUT can be a good option for patients who want to achieve maximum coverage from their hair restoration especially if the hair loss is quite advanced.
The correct technique for you depends on several factors, so we recommend talking through your options with a consultant to find the right route.