FUE? FUT? What?? – a Look at Modern Hair Transplantation Procedures
Modern science has made several advancements in treating hair loss & thinning. We will explore some of these advancements in hair transplantation technology and how they have progressed. Let's take a look at how hair surgery originated, explore the common "FUE" and "FUT" modern-day procedures, and review how they differ.
Hair transplantation methods were first developed in Japan in the 1930's when surgeons used transplants to restore the eyebrows and eyelashes and hair on the scalp of burn victims. Later, in the early 1950's, a hair transplant was performed in bald areas of the head by Dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich. The procedure has come a long way since then, and now "FUE" and "FUT" are some of the two well-known types of hair transplantation procedures available today. Both methods can be costly and require you to be a suitable candidate, so it is wise to carefully evaluate their relative advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will discuss what FUE and FUT are in detail, their core differences, recovery times, suitability, potential side effects, and costs.
Before delving into FUE and FUT's modern techniques, it is essential to understand what hair transplantation is. Hair transplantation is a technique used to implant hair follicles taken from your scalp through surgery, which is resistant to hair loss to an area that is prone to hair. The methods used to achieve this sets apart the different procedures of hair transplantation. However, in all cases, hair follicles are taken from the "healthy" donor area and implanted in the recipient area that suffers from hair loss.
Hair transplantation may be a solution worth considering when treating severe hair thinning, balding, and other related issues to hair loss. With that said, hair transplantation cannot fight against aging and normal hair thinning. Also, you may have to get the procedure redone and use different techniques in conjunction, something worth keeping in mind. Next, we'll talk about the two most common types of hair transplantation systems.
FUE Hair Transplantation
Follicular Unit Extraction, also know as Follicular Transfer, is a more modern hair transplantation technique. In FUE hair transplant, your hair technician will take small "grafts" of your hair directly out of your scalp, using a punching device. The diameter of these punches ranges between 0.8 to 1 mm, and hence it is often said to be a minimally invasive procedure. The procedure of the FUE hair transplant consists of the following steps:
A donor area is selected usually around the base of the scalp which has hair follicles that are genetically resistant to hair loss
The area is shaven off to make it easier to punch the hair follicles out
Each hair follicle is removed from the scalp using the punching device, leaving behind tiny marks in the donor area
These hair follicles are then extracted from the donor region so that no visible scarring may occur
The extracted follicles, now called 'grafts,' are prepared for implantation
The surgeon makes smalls incisions in the scalp and plants the grafts into these holes
The surgeon places Follicles with a single hair in areas where the natural hairline was, giving a more natural result; the surgeon then implants follicles with 3 or 4 hair in areas where dense hair are required
Finally, the surgeon then covers the surgical site with gauze or bandages
FUT Hair Transplantation
Follicular Unit Transplant, also called the Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS) or Unitary Unit Shape Surgery, is a more invasive hair transplant procedure but still offers natural-looking results. The process of FUT hair transplant involves the following steps:
The surgeon removes a thin strip of about 6-10 inches long (may stretch from ear to ear) from the back of your scalp using a scalpel
The surgeon sews the area of the removal up
The operating team will then divide the strip into single follicles manually, using microscopes to ensure proper results
The surgical team divides the strip into more than 2000 parts; each part is called a 'graft'
Small holes are made in the recipient area of your scalp using a blade or a needle
The surgeon inserts each graft into these puncture holes individually
The surgeon covers the surgical site with gauze or bandages
Major Differences between FUE and FUT
The significant difference between FUE and FUT is the procedure used for obtaining the hair follicles, the donor area selection, scarring, and graft quality. These differences are:
Follicular grafts are obtained by removing individual grafts from the scalp using a punching device
Follicles removal is spread equally across the entire donor area usually along the base of the scalp
The donor area much be shaved
The scarring is minimal and not visible to the naked eye unless the procedure is repeated several times
Graft quality may suffer due to the lack of protective tissue around the base of the hair follicles, making them prone to dehydration (this can be mitigated by automating the process.)
Follicular grafts are obtained from the strip removed from the scalp and then divided into individual grafts manually
The donor area is concentrated into just one strip usually in the middle of the back of your scalp
You do not have to shave the donor region
There is one long scar at the point of incision which may be visible if the hair is kept too short
Graft quality is much better since each follicle is obtained individually leaving behind more tissue around the base of the hair follicles which protects them from dehydration
Side Effects of Hair Transplantation
Generally, both FUE and FUT have similar side effects. These are:
Crust or pus drainage
Scalp pain, swelling, and itching
Inflammation of the scalp
Loss of sensation in the operated area
In the case of FUT, one unique side effect is the tightness of the scalp. By removing a strip of the scalp and sewing the opening closed, the scalp gets tightened. Often due to this, FUT cannot be performed again, and the patient must resort to FUE if needed.
In the case of FUE, if the process performed repeatedly, it can cause scarring and give your scalp a moth-eaten appearance.
Advantages of FUE
No visible scarring, hence allowing the patient to maintain different hairstyle including wearing the hair very short
Suitable for hair transplants for smaller areas requiring a small number of grafts
Body hair can be used as donors to supplement hair density
No hindrance in physical activity
Quick Recovery due to more minor punctures in the donor area
Disadvantages of FUE
More expensive and time-consuming
Quality of grafts suffers, and the overall yield of grafts may be unsatisfactory
The survival rate of follicles transplanted using FUE is 61.4% fourteen months after the operation
The donor area has to be shaven
Advantages of FUT
Cost-effective compared to FUE, and less time consuming
Suitable for patients treating larger effected areas since a more significant number of grafts are required
Better quality of grafts
You do not have to shave the donor region
The survival rate of follicles transplanted using FUT is 86% fourteen months after the operation
Disadvantages of FUT
May cause visible scarring
The patient cannot partake in strenuous activity for around two weeks
Slightly longer recovery time due to larger incision
Cost and Time
Generally, FUE is more expensive as compared to FUT. FUE one average costs between $4000 to $20,000; the final cost depends on the number of grafts. FUT cost between $3900 to $10,000, again depending on the patient's requirements.
Because of how FUE is administered, where each follicle is removed individually, it takes more time to complete the surgery as compared to FUT. Usually, a hair transplant surgery lasts between 4 to 8 hours, but for similar results, FUE lasts twice as long as FUT. The duration of the operation also depends upon the number of grafts obtained and transplanted.
Which Procedure is Right for You?
Both FUE and FUT have their pros and cons, but it is ultimately up to you and your consultant to decide which is the best solution for your hair loss. Generally, for those who suffer from severe balding, FUT is the better option. It is also cost-effective but somewhat invasive. If you do not require a large number of grafts and wish to wear a shorter hairstyle, FUE is the better option, though it is expensive. So it boils down to your personal preference, hair loss severity, and advice from your consultant.
We have explored the most common surgical procedures, FUE or FUT, with both methods having a unique technique in addressing hair loss. Both processes boast results and can potentially solve hair loss issues, albeit with some drawbacks well worth considering.
Also, it must be noted that hair transplantation is not a permanent solution to hair loss. Your hair is prone to thinning as you age; the rate of thinning is different for different regions of your scalp. On average, patients usually get the procedure done after every ten years of the initial surgery. Your hair will take up to 6 months to settle in and start growing at a similar rate overall. So like all hair loss solutions, patience is key!
We hope this information did come as good news to you. Remember, no matter what the cause of your hair loss is, there's always something you can do about it!