FUE vs FUT – A Comparison of Hair Transplant Methods

FUE vs FUT diagram: Notice how FUE (left) makes use of small round donor sites compared to FUT’s method of one long strip (right).

Main Types of Hair Transplant

Often, our patients will ask about the difference between the two types of Hair Transplants. There are two main types of hair transplants:

The main differences between the two methods deals with how the hair is “excised” from the donor area. The final result for a Hair Transplant should look natural, regardless of the method chosen. In this article we’ll break down the differences in the two procedures.

Jae Pak Showing Patient Before Pictures of Himself
Dr. Pak shows his patient what his hair looked before his FUE Hair Transplant

FUE – Follicular Unit Extraction

During this type of hair transplant, the surgeon cuts the hair follicles out directly from the back part of the patient’s head by doing thousands of very small punch incisions that are the size of dots.

The doctor uses either a needle or a tiny blade to create holes all over the recipient site. Then, he or she fills those areas with the hairs taken from the donor site. In one single session, an expert could transplant hundreds, if not thousands, of different hairs. 

FUT – Follicular Unit Transplantation

Jae Pak, M.D. performs an FUT Strip Procedure on a Hairline Lowering patient

During this procedure, the doctor uses a scalpel to cut a small part of your scalp skin. Usually, surgeons make this incision around the back of your head. The length of the incision is approximately 6 inches. Before going on to the next step of the process, the doctor stitches or staples and closes the incision.

Then, the surgeon will remove and separate small sections from the removed strip using a sharp surgical knife and a microscope/magnifying lens. This way, when inserted into the recipient site, these tiny parts of follicles will help you achieve a natural look, once the hair grows back.

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Can’t decide between FUE and FUT? Schedule a free in-person or virtual consultation with Dr. Pak to get the best solution for your needs.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Both FUE and FUT?

Both hair transplants procedure types are safe and generally painless during the procedure. Some soreness is normal right after the surgery, but that will pass in just a couple of days. The recovery time is quick after hair transplantation. You can return to work after only 2 to 5 days post-operation, with little visible signs that a procedure was performed.

In a couple of weeks after surgery, all the newly-transplanted hair will fall out just to make room for new growth, but you must have a little patience because this entire process will take a 9-12 months to show the full results of your procedure.

FUE Pros

  • With the FUE hair transplant, patients will avoid linear scars.
  • FUE generally has lower postoperative pain than FUT.
  • You can wear your hair any way you want, even cut it very short because there won’t be a linear scar showing.
  • In some cases, with FUE, the donor site heals a bit quicker than with the FUT procedure.

FUE Cons

  • There will be numerous tiny dot scars at the back of your scalp but once your hair grows back, no one, not even you, will typically notice them.
  • FUE comes with more transection compared to FUT.
  • Because of the transection, the growth rate might be a little slower.
  • You will need to shave your head or at least the areas where the doctor will work on before the surgery.
Back of Scalp - Scars from FUE After Procedure and 3 Months Later
This patient of Jae Pak, M.D. received FUE. On the left you can see where the donor hairs were excised, and on the right what the back of the scalp looks like after 3 months.

FUT Pros

  • Has a better growth rate compared to the one of FUE
  • The stereo-microscopic dissection is so precise that the follicle damage is minimal
  •  Patients don’t have to shave their heads before the surgery
  • Usually, a FUT procedure is less expensive than FUE surgery.

FUT Cons

  • After the operation, patients will be left with a linear scar, but it generally won’t be visible because it will fade away after a while and it will be hidden within the hairline
  • If you want to cut your hair very short, the scar will become visible, so you should avoid using the #1 guard of your razor – this generally isn’t a problem because once you enjoy hair regrowth, you won’t want to have very short hair ever again.
  • In some cases, FUT can be a little more painful right after the surgery than FUE – both procedures are safe, and they aren’t that painful, but pain is a highly subjective concept, each patient experiences it in a different way.
Jae Pak M.D. FUT Patient before staples are removed.
FUT Scar a few days after staples have been removed

In summary, both FUE and FUT are effective for restoring the appearance of a normal hairline and a full head of hair.

Is the quality of an FUE graft different than an FUT graft?

At Jae Pak MD Medical, each individual graft is inspected for quality control under special microscopes. Only good quality hair grafts are transplanted, whether the hairs come from the FUE or FUT procedure. 

Perfect FUE Grafts for Quality Control at Jae Pak MD Medical
In this picture the staff at Jae Pak MD Medical use a video microscope monitor to quality control grafts in this FUE procedure.

Who will be performing my surgery?

At Jae Pak MD Medical, your surgeon will be harvesting the FUE grafts and creating the sties for the grafts to be implanted. Experienced, well trained, full time medical technicians will prepare the grafts under special microscopes and implant the grafts based on the incision sites Dr. Pak creates.

Dr Pak performing surgery

You should always ask your surgeon about their experience and who will be performing the aspects of your surgery.

Patient Story

FUE Hairline and Beard Transplant Story

This actor is always camera ready with FUE for his hairline and beard! View his growth results from start to finish.

Find out if a Hair Transplant is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!

FUE vs. FUT: Which is Better?

Hair transplantation has come a long way since the early days of 4mm grafts and the doll-hair “plug” look of decades ago.

While we credit physicians back then with remarkable discoveries and pioneering techniques, there’s no doubt that transplantation is far more efficient and effective in the current era, with patient satisfaction higher than ever.

Now, the debate between Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) and Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) is in the spotlight for hair restoration specialists and surgeons across the globe.

The techniques have some similarities and many key differences that patients and physicians should be aware of when deciding on a procedure. This article will highlight both methods’ pros and cons and discuss what types of patients are better candidates for each type.

FUT Overview and Advantages

The FUT method has been around since the mid-1990s when doctors discovered that removing a long, horizontal strip from the back of the head resulted in an impressive yield of quality follicles for the recipient area on the scalp.

This “strip surgery” method was a step forward from the previous micrografting techniques that surgeons used to extract small segments of follicle units from donor areas. The improvement meant better quality hair, a higher yield, and the ability to perform longer “mega sessions” with thousands of individual grafts over several hours.

Doctors using FUT also have a much better idea of how many follicles are required to ensure complete coverage of the recipient area, using advanced tools and models to stay on target.

The procedure involves a few major steps, starting with removing a designated strip of skin and the dissection of healthy follicle units. A team of surgeons select and process the best follicles to be implanted in the donor area.

With multiple technicians working at once, the head surgeon is able to graft hair to the donor area at a rapid rate with minimal damage to the hair. When fully recovered and regrown, the newly grafted hair looks natural and offers great coverage due to the high density of the chosen follicle units.

FUT does leave a thin, horizontal scar on the back of the head, which can take some extra time to heal, but if the patient allows hair to grow at least an inch in this area, the scar is virtually undetectable.

FUT post-op care is fairly manageable in terms of recovery and should not take more than two weeks to resume most normal activities. During the initial recovery phase, patients are advised to be extremely careful with both the donor and recipient areas to allow for complete healing.

Since FUT is more widely practiced worldwide, patients may also find a better price for this treatment than others.

FUT remains the most popular and well-known hair transplant technique, with plenty of evidence to show long-term effectiveness and permanence.

FUE Overview and Advantages

FUE is a relative newcomer to hair transplantation, combining older techniques with new technologies to gain some distinct advantages over FUT. The main difference between the two methods is in the extraction process.

While FUT relies on a single horizontal strip for the entire set of donor hair, FUE makes use of multiple small donor sites from around the back of the head.

Since surgeons draw hair from dozens of individual points around the donor area, they can be very selective in the patches of hair they choose. Some consider this to be preferable compared to the strip technique that gives surgeons less variety of follicles to draw from.

The instrument used to “excise” follicles from the donor area is a precise cylindrical blade that ranges between 0.8 and 1.0 mm in diameter. Surgeons will swap out various instruments during the extraction process depending on the width or depth of the follicles required.

As the follicles are extracted and set aside, techs will process the units with minimal transection and prepare them for implantation in the donor area. From there, the process is almost identical to the grafting phase of the FUT procedure, although the number and quality of the grafts may differ slightly depending on the patient and surgeon.

What is the main appeal of FUE? For many patients, it’s the attraction of the newer, more advanced technology that they want to experience for themselves. FUE is advertised as the latest and greatest transplantation method, even though not everyone is an ideal candidate.

FUE does come with reduced scarring in the donor area in terms of real advantages, although it cannot fairly be called a “scarless” surgery or “minimally invasive”. FUE procedures result in hundreds of tiny incisions in the donor area, each of which needs time to heal and may leave some sort of scarring in a patchwork pattern.

Still, the absence of the linear scar is enough to sell many patients on the virtues of FUE, especially if they want to wear a shaved-in-the-back hairstyle.

Drawbacks of FUT vs. FUE

As mentioned, FUT has a few downsides that patients need to consider before moving forward with the procedure. Horizontal scarring is a concern for some people who want to wear their hair short in the back, and the recovery period is a bit more challenging and lengthier.

Some patients report that the post-op pain may be slightly worse in FUT recovery, but this can’t be measured objectively.

However, in nearly every other metric, FUT appears to still be the superior procedure compared to FUE. FUT has the edge with respect to growth rate, permanence, cost, and the viability of repeat surgeries.

It is also far easier to find a reputable and trusted surgeon to perform FUT than FUE, since the latter procedure has still not reached the mainstream for most clinics. This will equate to a better price for the customer who seeks FUT surgery in most instances.

Determining Candidates for FUT vs. FUE

Patients may run down the list of pros and cons between these two procedures and try to determine whether they would make good candidates for either one.

There are a few factors to consider when making this decision, and every case is unique.

Firstly, a patient should account for how much hair is already lost on the scalp and whether they expect to lose more at a similar rate. For those with a significant loss already, FUT is generally the better option because of the larger yield of higher quality follicles.

For patients who want a one-and-done solution for hair transplant, FUT tends to be the right decision. Mega sessions allow surgeons to transplant thousands of hairs in a single surgery and repeat sessions can also be performed over many years.

Some people are better candidates for FUE, on the other hand. These are patients with minor hair loss around the temples and the sides of the hairline, and who may not require a large strip of tissue to be removed from the back of the head.

Men and women who need fewer than 400 grafts, for example, might be perfectly satisfied with the results from FUE. If they require future surgeries, they can always go back to the same technique to harvest more hair from the area.

Expert Opinions and Guidance

It’s important to think a few steps ahead when deciding on surgery of this magnitude and cost, and the best hair restoration doctors will help patients make the right call depending on their situation.

Factors like hair density, quality, and lifestyle all come into play when determining the best course of action, and only an experienced professional will have the skillset and insight to help patients make the best decision.

Surgery is also just one part of a comprehensive hair restoration strategy, which is why top physicians in the field are equipped with knowledge on things like medicines, supplements, remedies, and alternative therapies that can help patients restore their hair and keep it.

If there does come a time when another procedure or treatment change is needed, the patient will already feel comfortable with the clinic and informed about their diagnosis. This is a big advantage over a standard physician or dermatologist.

This is why men and women who notice hair loss should team up with a great hair doctor sooner than later to preemptively address the issue instead of waiting for too long.

The FUT vs FUE Debate

The FUT vs. FUE debate goes on, although there’s no definitive winner for every type of patient. FUT will likely be a better choice for the majority of clients seeking hair transplantation, but FUE has its advantages that appeal to a certain segment of the population.

It’s important to be informed and updated on all the available options when considering these procedures, and a hair restoration specialist will help make the process as straightforward and painless as possible.

How Dr. Jae Pak Can Help

Dr Pak performing surgery
Jae Pak, M.D.

So you know a little bit more about the differences between FUT vs FUE. But you have so many other questions about hair transplants: Is it safe? Will it hurt? What kind of results can I expect? Hair transplantation is not a common topic of discussion. So, who do you turn to? 

A successful transplant process starts with a consultation with a hair transplant expert who truly wants to understand your personal goals. Dr. Jae Pak of Jae Pak, M.D. Medicall is a board-certified physician and a hair transplant artist with 15 years experience. With a complementary background in engineering, Dr. Pak uses precision-like skill to bring his patients a natural and balanced hair line they can be proud of.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Pak today and discover what hair transplantation can do for you.

Sources:

What You Need to Know About Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) | Healthline

Follicular unit extraction | Wikipedia

FUT vs. FUE Graft Survival: A Side-by-Side Study of 3 Patients Undergoing a Routine 2,000+ Graft Hair Transplantation | Hair Transplant Forum International

Find out if Hair Restoration is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!

Hairline Lowering – FUE vs FUT

Hairline Lowering – FUE vs FUT

If you decide that a hairline lowering is the right procedure for you, there are two different harvesting methods.

1. Follicular Unit Excision

Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) harvesting is a harvesting method used to harvest hair follicles one hair follicle at a time. FUE harvesting is often misrepresented as a scarless surgery or a minimally invasive surgery. It must be noted that FUE surgery will give you scarring and is not a minimally invasive surgery. The difference between FUE and FUT (Strip) is that FUE leaves thousands of round dot scars while FUT (Strip) leaves a single line scar. FUE requires shaving the back of your head to harvest the hairs.

Because of this reason, many women choose not to have the FUE harvest method. In both methods, hair follicles are harvested from the donor area, checked for quality by the surgical staff, then transplanted into the hairline. Some women, who still prefer the FUE harvest method, can have an undercut for the harvesting.

2. Follicular Unit Transplantation (STRIP METHOD)

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) harvesting, often referred to as Strip Surgery or Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS), is the most common method of harvesting the donor hair for women since there is no need for shaving your hair.

You can return to work and normal activity as early as the next day. FUT or Strip surgery involves harvesting the hair with an incision in the back of your head where your donor hair is taken from. You will have a linear incision scar on the back of your head, but it will always be hidden or covered by your hair.

Pictured above are the sutures across the linear scar immediately after FUT Strip surgery.

The Internet is full of confusing information regarding the FUT harvesting method. Many patients are afraid of the scar and make their decision based on misleading marketing and misinformation. It must be noted that FUT harvesting is still the Gold Standard in the quality of a hair follicle, and has a higher percentage of growth potential. The ultimate deciding factor in a great surgical result is how the hairs are implanted and less about how the hair is harvested. The final results depend on the artistic talent as well as the technical expertise of the entire surgical staff.

This patient received a different type of Hair Transplant, in the form of an FUT surgery to fill in bald spots from traction and genetics. As you can see, one year later there is no noticeable scar.

For more information about the differences between the two types of hair transplant procedures, you can read FUE vs FUT: Differences, Pros and Cons.

Find out if which method of Hairline Lowering is right for you.

Speak with Jae Pak, M.D. today!