The Pros & Cons of Different Approaches to FUT
As we explained earlier, FUT – follicular unit transplantation – is the most effective approach to hair restoration today. There are two methods of harvesting the individual follicular units (FUs, or micrografts) that are used in hair transplantation: harvesting a strip of the scalp and extracting the micrografts from this strip under a special microscope, and follicular unit extraction (FUE) in which individual FUs are extracted directly from the scalp.
Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of each method:
The chief advantage of the FUE method is that there’s no linear scar from removing a strip of the scalp – a consideration for people who wear their hair short. However, in Contour’s experience with the strip method, it’s possible to achieve a very thin line which is barely detectable, even when the hair is worn very short.
And despite hype to the contrary, FUE isn’t “scarless.” Each extraction leaves a 1 to 2 mm hole in the scalp. Since hundreds, often thousands, of extractions are required for most transplantation procedures, this can create dimpling (similar to a golf ball) in some patients’ scalps. So while FUE is touted as being less invasive than strip harvesting, it’s only marginally so.
Plus, FUE generally requires multiple sessions to yield the number of follicular units obtained through a single strip harvest – often making the FUE procedure for restoring scalp hair more time intensive and, therefore, more expensive.
FUE does make it possible to harvest non-scalp hair (beard or body hair, for example) or finer hair from the nape of the neck in order to truly customize a transplant (in fact, with FUE, we can even restore eyebrows and eyelashes!).
Another important consideration is that the ultimate yield of follicular units is lower with FUE than with strip harvesting because FUE grafts are more fragile (they often lack the protective tissue that surrounds the follicle, which is preserved during the microscopic dissection of strip harvesting – and which ensures maximum growth after transplantation). In other words, the more strong and viable micrografts we can harvest and transplant, the greater hair density – and better cosmetic results – you will achieve. And we tend to obtain more viable micrografts through strip harvesting than FUE.
The Bottom Line
So which harvesting approach is right for you? It really depends on various factors – chief among them the amount of healthy hair you have available for harvesting, and how much volume you wish to restore.
Whenever appropriate, we recommend the strip harvesting approach because it consistently delivers excellent results. But based on an initial consultation to evaluate your hair growth and loss, your family history of hair loss, and your expectations for hair transplantation surgery, we’ll tailor a treatment plan – and harvesting technique – to your individual needs.