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- Topic: FUE vs FUT
Answers Topic »
Q: I am an MMA fighter and I want to get a hair transplant. How long do I have to be out of commission and which type of procedure should I have, FUE or FUT? — J.A., Columbus, OH
A: With any type of hair transplant it takes 10 days for the transplanted grafts to be permanently fixed in place. The difference between FUE and FUT is in the limitations of activity due to the donor area. With FUE one would need to abstain from MMA for the same 10 days it takes the recipient area to heal (the grappling component of Mixed Marshal Arts is the most stressful on the scalp). With FUT, however, one would need at least three months for the linear donor scar to heal before one could resume contact sports like MMA.
Q: It seems that some doctors offer only FUT and others only FUE. What is your opinion on that?
A: Both FUT and FUE are excellent techniques, but have different indications. To deliver the best care for our patients, hair restoration physicians should have expertise in both procedures, and they should offer both in their practices.
The main advantage of FUT is that it typically (but not always) gives the highest yield of hair. Therefore, when the patient’s primary goal is to achieve maximum fullness, FUT should be performed. There are many well described reasons for this, including the precision of stereo-microscopic dissection and the ability to efficiently harvest from a more select area of the donor zone, but these are beyond the scope of this brief commentary.
The main advantage of FUE is no linear scar. Therefore, when the patient’s primary goal is to be able to wear his hair very short, FUE should be performed. FUE is also indicated when there is an increased risk of a widened scar or when scalp laxity does not permit a strip excision. The patient may sometimes chose FUE simply to avoid the stigma of a linear donor scar.
There are situations in which both procedures are useful in the same patient. For example, FUT may first be used to maximize yield, but then, after several sessions, the scalp may become too tight to continue to perform FUT, or the donor scar may become wider than anticipated. In the former case, the physician can switch to FUE to obtain additional grafts; in the latter case FUE may be used to camouflage the scar of the FUT procedure.
It is tempting to see the world in black and white, and it is easiest to learn and train one’s staff in just one hair transplant technique — but medicine is never so simple. Developments over the past twenty years have given us two excellent hair restoration procedures. We should offer our patients both.
Q: At one time, I was told my donor area was not sufficient for an FUT hair transplant procedure. Does this also mean I’m not qualified for a FUE procedure either?
A: Great question. You are not giving me quite enough information to answer your question specifically, so I will answer in more general terms. If your donor hair supply was not good enough to do FUT (i.e. you have too little donor hair and too much bald area to cover) then most likely you will not be a candidate for FUE either, since both procedures require, and use up, donor hair. That said, if don’t need that much donor hair, but the nature of your donor area is such that a linear FUT scar might be visible then FUE might be useful.
An example would be the case in which a person has limited hair loss in the front of his scalp, has relatively low donor density, and wants to keep his hair on the short sides. In this case, FUT would not be appropriate as you might see the line scar, but we might be able to harvest enough hair through FUE to make the procedure cosmetically worthwhile. Remember, with low density neither procedure will yield that much hair to be used in the recipient area.
Another example is an Asian whose hair emerges perpendicular from the scalp so that a line incision is difficult to hide, i.e. the hair will not lie naturally over it. A third example is where the patient’s scalp is very tight. In this case, the donor density might be adequate, but it would just be hard to access it using a strip FUT procedure. In this case, FUE would also be appropriate.
From these situations, one can see that the decision to perform FUE vs FUT, or even a hair transplant at all, can be quite nuanced and requires a careful evaluation by a hair restoration surgeon with expertise in both procedures.
Q: If I have no linear scar and I can exercise right away, why would you ever recommend FUT instead of FUE?
A: I advise FUT because the grafts are of better quality (less transaction and more support tissue surrounding the follicle) and because more hair can be obtained from the mid-portion of the permanent zone –- which is where the hair is the best quality and most permanent. For the majority of patients a linear scar buried in the donor hair is not an issue. Each patient has to weigh the pros and cons of each procedure when making a decision.
A: I think that both procedures are excellent, which is why I do them both. My recommendations are determined by the individual patient. His or her age, desire to wear hair cut very short, athletic activities, donor density and miniaturization, extent of hair loss, and potential future balding are all important aspects in the decision process.
Q: Is the recovery time a lot longer with FUT compared to FUE?
A: Cosmetically, the recovery for FUT is actually shorter, since the back and sides do not need to be shaved and the longer hair can completely cover the donor incision immediately after the Follicular Unit Transplant procedure. In large Follicular Unit Extraction procedures, the entire back and sides of the scalp need to be clipped very close to the scalp. It can take up to 2 or 3 weeks for the hair to grow long enough to completely camouflage the harvested area. Once the healing is complete and any redness has subsided, the hair can be cut shorter.
A: The recipient area in both procedures is visible for up to 10 days. The donor area in FUT is generally not visible immediately after the procedure. In FUE, the donor area must be shaved, so that will be visible for up to two weeks (the time it takes for the hair to grow in).
Q: What are the chances of the donor scarring being visible long-term in FUT compared to FUE?
A: Both FUT and FUE produce donor scarring; FUT, in the form of a line and FUE in the shape of small, round dots. With FUT hair transplantation, the line is placed in the mid-portion of the permanent zone, whereas in FUE the dots are scattered all over the donor area.
If a patient becomes extensively bald (i.e. the donor fringe becomes very narrow), the line of FUT will generally still remain hidden, whereas the dots of FUE will be seen above the fringe of hair. In the less likely scenario of the donor hair actually thinning significantly, both the line (of FUT) and the dots (of FUE) may become visible.
Q: I am so confused reading about FUT and FUE on all the blogs. Can you please tell me which is better, FUT or FUE? — M.T., East Brunswick, NJ
A: FUT (via strip) will give the best cosmetic results (more volume) since the grafts are of better quality (when using microscopic dissection, there is less transection and more surrounding tissue to protect the grafts) and better graft selection (the grafts can all be harvested from the mid-portion of the permanent zone).
In contrast, in FUE you need approximately 5 times the area. Because of this large donor area requirement, some of the hair must be harvested from fringe areas and thus the hair will be less stable genetically.
What Are Differences Between Follicular Unit Transplantation, Follicular Unit Extraction, and Ultra-refined FUHT?
Q: What is the difference between the following ways of doing hair transplants: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), Ultra-refined FUHT, and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?
In brief, with FUT, follicular units are obtained from the microscopic dissection of a donor strip that has been removed from the back of the scalp. In FUE, the doctor attempts to remove intact follicular units directly from the scalp via a small round instrument called a punch.
Ultra Refined FUHT (Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation) is term that Pat Hennessey uses on his Hair Transplant Network. It refers to using very tiny recipient sites, carefully dissected follicular unit grafts, and large hair transplant sessions in FUHT procedures.