Hair loss is a challenging condition that affects many people around the world. In the United States alone, 85% of males and 40% of females have some degree of hair loss, which increases with age. Most people lose hair due to a condition known as androgenetic alopecia or patterned balding/hair loss. However, there are multiple different types of and causes of hair loss, so it is always best to get checked out by a doctor.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, the first step is to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss your options. One option is hair restoration surgery (also called hair transplants). If you are interested to learn more about hair transplants and the different types of procedures like FUT and FUE, then read on to learn more. You should always discuss your options with a doctor, but going into your appointment with some background may help you better understand the conversation with your doctor.
What Is a Follicular Unit Excision (also called Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE)?
FUE hair transplants involve removing individual hair follicular units (or grafts) from the skin and implanting them into areas with thin or absent hair. Over time, the hair in the transplanted area looks thicker and fuller as the transplanted hair starts to grow in.
FUE has become popular as it is less invasive and avoids a linear scar. It is important to note that FUE procedures do still leave behind pinpoint dot light or white scars with no hair. So, it is important to go to someone experienced to make sure they leave enough surrounding non-transplanted hair to cover the small pinpoint scars.
FUE is relatively well-tolerated. Commonly people experience mild swelling, bruising, and scalp sensitivity. It is important to discuss the recovery period and risks with your hair restoration surgeon.
Who Is a Good Candidate for FUE?
The best candidates are people with thinning or balding hair but enough hair on the back and sides of the scalp (which is where hair is normally taken from for the hair transplant procedure). If you don’t have areas of thick, healthy hair, you likely won’t be able to get this type of transplant.
However, in FUE it is also possible to use hair from other body parts. However taking the hair from scalp hair is more ideal as it tends to match scalp better. Body hair can have different length, texture, curl, and frequency of shedding than scalp hair, so typically, scalp hair is used first and body hair is only considered when there is not enough scalp hair to provide adequate coverage.
The type of hair loss you have also matters for any kind of hair transplant. Hair transplants are potentially appropriate for certain types of hair loss like patterned loss/balding or traction alopecia. Hair transplant are not appropriate for active inflammatory types of hair loss or hair loss triggered by internal medical conditions as the transplant will not address the underlying cause.
How Do FUE Hair Transplants Work?
FUE hair transplants can help restore hair by implanting healthy hair follicles into areas with thinning or balding. The follicular unit or grafts are taken one by one usually from the sides or back of the scalp because follicles in these regions are most likely to be the healthiest and most permanent hairs.
During FUE, usually the donor area (which is the area where the hair follicles are removed from) is shaved down to be able to visualize the angle of exit of the hair from the scalp. The follicular units are then removed one by one by using a small FUE punch tool. Any excess tissue is then removed from the grafts under the microscope if necessary, and the grafts are counted.
Small micro incisions are then made in the scalp into the areas that are thinning or balding or where greater density is desired, and then the individual grafts are placed into these tiny holes one by one.
The cost of FUE hair transplants widely varies but can range between $7,000 to $20,000 depending on the number of grafts and other factors. Hair restoration specialists like Root Hair Institute offer flexible payment options, allowing you to make monthly installments if needed.
What Is a Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)?
FUT is a common hair transplant method that has continued to have advances in techniques.
With a FUT procedure, a surgeon will remove a thin strip of skin from the scalp, typically from the back and sides of your head. The exact length and width required will depend on how many follicles are needed to achieve your desired results. The FUT procedure typically leaves behind a thin linear scar that hair from above the scar can cover as long as the hair is kept at least 1.5 cm.
Generally, FUT is a relatively safe procedure and well-tolerated. Individuals undergoing FUT commonly experience mild swelling, bruising, and scalp sensitivity during the healing process, but overall, the healing process is usually quick as the scalp has excellent blood flow compared to other regions of the body. Sutures are in place that often are removed between 1 and 3 weeks after the procedure. It is important to discuss the recovery period and risks with your hair restoration surgeon.
Who Is a Good Candidate for FUT?
Individuals who have what’s referred to as androgenetic alopecia (also called pattern hair loss, male pattern baldness, or female pattern hair loss) or traction alopecia are often good candidates for FUT.
Similar to FUE, if you have internal medication conditions or inflammatory hair loss such as thyroid disease or alopecia areata causing your hair loss, then FUT or any type of hair transplant surgery is usually not a good option. It is always important to be evaluated by a professional to determine the type of hair loss that you have, and what treatment options may be appropriate in your case.
Other factors that your surgeon will consider will be the extent of hair loss, amount of strong healthy donor hair, age, family history of hair loss, and hair characteristics that can affect how much coverage you get.
How Do FUT Transplants Work?
With FUT hair transplants, your surgeon will cut a thin strip of skin often from the sides and back of the scalp. The strip of scalp is then cut into individual follicular units under the microscope, and the grafts are counted.
There can be hundreds to thousands of tiny grafts depending on your case, and each graft contains anywhere from 1 to 4 hair follicles.
Finally, the grafts are transplanted one by one into small holes in the scalp in the areas where more hair density is desired.
FUT hair transplants typically cost between $7,000 and $20,000 at Root Hair Institute, but the price can vary depending on the length of the procedure and other factors.
You’ll need an evaluation to determine the total estimated cost for your case. We do offer financing options at Root Hair Institute.
FUE vs. FUT: Key Similarities and Differences
The main difference between FUT and FUE is how the hair is harvested from the donor area as described above. Once the hair is removed and follicular units are obtained, the process is the same between the two. In both small incisions are made where increased hair density is desired, and then the grafts are placed one by one into the small incisions.
For both procedures it can take 4-6 months to start seeing the hair grow in and up to 12-15 months to see the full effect. Both types of hair transplant surgery can last on average anywhere between 6 and 12 hours; however, the time it will take depends on a number of factors including the number of hairs, if the hair is left long on top, number and skill of staff, and other patient factors. So it is possible that your surgery could take less or even more time.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both procedures. Some of the advantages of each are discussed below:
FUE has advantages including:
- Less pain on average after surgery
- Pinpoint dot scars rather than a linear scar
- Ability to use body hair if needed
- Faster healing time
- No stitches
On the other hand, FUT has advantages including:
- Ability to keep the donor hair long (do not need to shave donor area)
- Ability to have multiple FUT procedures prior to switching to FUE procedures to have a higher total number of grafts possible over someone’s lifetime (important for those with aggressive hair loss)
- Ability to get all grafts from the region of the donor area with the thickest, healthiest, and most likely to be permanent hairs (as opposed to spaced out throughout the donor area)
Talking to a hair restoration specialist further will help you to understand these differences more and help you decide which may be right for you.
Learn More About Your Hair Transplant Options
Now that you know more about FUE vs. FUT, you’ll feel more comfortable looking further into these hair transplant options.
If you’re looking for a professional and reputable hair loss and restoration center in the Greater Seattle area, you can turn to Root Hair Institute. We provide comprehensive hair loss and restoration treatment, including a thorough exam, diagnostics, and therapy recommendations.
We provide FUE, FUT, or a combination of both. We work hard to achieve the best possible results for our patients both in terms of hair growth and scarring.
Make sure to contact us today to schedule a hair loss consultation and discuss your hair transplant options!