Of the myriad treatment options for thinning hair, a surgical hair transplant may be considered as the most direct approach. There is reasoning to support such a claim. You’re not going to be wearing a glue-down wig, or sprinkling synthetic hair onto your scalp. Quite literally, you’re going to be transplanting healthy hair from one part of your body to another. To do this you will need to visit a clinic and spend anywhere from 4 to 8 hours in a chair while a doctor conducts scientific phantasmagoria—or at least, demonstrates an extreme skill in the process of restoration. We spoke with Parsa Mohebi, a San Francisco hair transplant doctor, to get more information about the major differences between two different types of hair transplant surgeries.
The two most common ways to conduct hair transplant surgery are known as Follicular Unit Transplantation and Follicular Unit Extraction. Both are proven effective. Both have been practiced for decades. Nor are those the only things they have in common. Both are also virtually painless. Both are conducted on an outpatient basis. The full recovery time—12 to 18 months—is about the same for both. And at the end of that recovery time,it can be very difficult for people to tell that you’ve had any surgery at all.
Still, when it comes to procedural preference, most surgeons will lean toward FUE. Why exactly is that the case? In truth, there is no “exact” reason. Rather, there are a number of reasons, which this article will examine today.
Follicular Unit Transplant
FUT—or strip transplant surgery—is the process in which a strip of follicular units is removed from a donor area of the scalp and implanted into the recipient area. This is basically hair transplantation by grouping. It was first conducted in New York City in the early 1950s. In those days, the grouping was tight. Doctors transplanted the hair in stalks that tended to leave patients looking like they were wearing head of doll hair. Over the following decades the FUT technique kept getting more refined, until the results became nigh undetectable from those who had never needed surgery at all.
The main reason FUT has been surpassed by FUE is that FUT almost always leaves a “strip scar” where the donor hairs came from. After the strip is removed, doctors suture the donor section. After about one week the sutures are removed, leaving a scar. This scar is usually covered simply by growing the hair above it a little longer.
Follicular Unit Extraction
FUE is the more advanced technique where follicular units are harvested individually from the donor area. This leaves behind no detectable scar and thus does not require the patient to grow his/her hair longer for concealment. FUE was developed in Japan, in 1988. Several different ways exist to conduct FUE, making it an even more advantageous choice over FUT.
One method of FUE that many clinics offer is the robotic FUE. A robot arm termed ARTAS communicates with computer software that takes microscopic images of the scalp. The software is able to determine which follicular units are most healthy for harvesting. From here the arm gets to work, partially extracting the units before allowing a surgeon to complete the process.
Other advantages that FUE carries over FUT are:
- Increased harvesting areas
- The ability to collect donor hair from other parts of the body
- The donor recovery time is shorter for FUE
- About 3-7 days, as compared to 2-3 weeks for FUT
For females, surgeons will almost always choose the FUE method. One reason for this is because women do not always have suitable donor hair on the back and side of the head, where FUT is performed. With FUE’s wider range, the possibilities for successful transplantation in females are much stronger.
The newer technology that accompanies Follicular Unit Extraction gives it a major boost in preference among transplant surgeons, and really helps win the argument of FUE vs FUT transplant. For sufferers of thinning hair, an auspicious future awaits, wherein hair transplant technology will doubtless be better than ever before.
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