In both FUE and FUT hair transplant techniques, healthy hair grafts are placed into tiny incisions in the areas of the scalp affected by hair loss. The surgeon must take great care to distribute and position the incisions to ensure they blend seamlessly with the patient’s existing hair. The surgical team uses very fine forceps or implanter devices to re-implant the grafts and must pay careful attention to the storage and handling of the follicles in order to avoid damage and optimize graft survival.
Also common to both techniques are the source of these grafts. They are taken from ‘donor’ areas of the scalp, where the hair is genetically programmed to continue growing for life.
The difference is in how these grafts are harvested.
In the FUT procedure, a strip of hair-bearing skin is removed from the donor area of the scalp, usually the back of the head. This is why FUT is also known as ‘strip’ surgery.
The long-term donor hair supply will be influenced by how loose (or lax) the scalp skin is and by how many hairs there are per square centimeter of donor scalp. Generally speaking, the FUT procedure gives access to greater donor hair yield during a lifetime compared with FUE.
The strip is then placed under high-powered microscopes and the surgical team meticulously divides it into tiny grafts of individual follicular units comprised of one to four hairs. These grafts are placed in a chilled tissue storage solution until they are transplanted.
The donor area is stitched up and usually then covered by the surrounding hair. After between 10 and 14 days the stitches are removed and the donor area heals to form a linear scar.
In the FUT procedure, the donor area of the scalp is shaved and follicular unit grafts are excised individually, using a 0.8mm to 1mm ‘punch’.
The procedure can be carried out manually or using a motorized surgical tool.
Following FUE there will be a series of tiny dot scars on the scalp, but these are so small as to be scarcely noticeable. With multiple FUE procedures, more dot scars are accumulated and the hair in the hair in the donor area is gradually thinned out. This is why there is a limited amount of donor’s hair, which means that surgeons and patients must take care to ensure that there is adequate donor supply for a long-term plan.