FUE vs. Strip Hair Transplant

Follicular Unit Transplantation has advanced so significantly in the last two decades that transplanted hair is almost undetectable from a natural full head of hair. The improvements in FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), also known as FIT (Follicular Isolation Technique), has helped hair transplant surgeons be able to offer more options to their patients.

Modern hair restoration with completely natural results has been made possible through follicular unit transplantation. The two main harvesting methods in hair restoration are conducted using Strip and FUE. There are some important differences between these two procedures that patients need to be aware of before having any hair harvested from the donor area.

Overview

  • Strip Hair Transplant – When a strip of the scalp skin is removed from the back and sides of the head. Following the removal of the strip, the surgical wound is sutured or stapled. The follicular grafts are then removed from the strip microscopically so they can be transplanted. The strip method leaves a line scar on the donor area and it is the more traditional way of doing FUT procedures.
  • FUE Transplant – When individual hair follicular units are removed one at a time to be transplanted. FUE grafts are selectively removed from the donor area microscopically. This procedure could be done manually or with automated and robotic methods.

Pros and Cons

Both methods have distinct advantages and disadvantages. While both methods can help a patient achieve their hair restoration goals, the patient does need to have a clear understanding of both procedures before committing to undergoing a hair transplant. The following chart provides a good comparison of the differences between FUE and Strip hair transplants.

Type of Procedure FUE Strip FUT
Recipient Apperance Completely natural Completely natural
Donor Area The entire body Back and sides of head
Donor Recovery Complete in 3-7 days Complete in 2-3 weeks
Donor Look Natural, slight risk of hypopigmentation Linear scar is always present
Surgeon’s Involvement 70 – 90% 40 – 50%
Follicular Survival Is being studied* 95 – 100%
Price Higher Lower
Number of Grafts in One Day Up to around 2000 Over 4000 in proper candidates**

* FUE Research Committee of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery was established in 2012 to perform several studies to find the answer for this question. We will update this information when the results of those studies are available.

** Patients who are qualified for large number of grafts (gigasession) should have high density and good laxity of scalp.

Which One to Choose?

Before having either procedure, a patient should answer a few questions to make sure they choose the procedure that best suits their needs:

  • How do you plan to wear your hair after the procedure? (FUE does not create a linear scar on the donor area so the patient has the option to wear their hair very short or even shave)
  • How many grafts do you need? (A strip method generally produces a larger number of grafts per session so it can cover a large balding area in only one session in most cases)
  • What is your total budget? (Strip is more affordable per each individual graft)
  • What is your overall pain tolerance? (FUE patients usually do not have pain or tightness following their procedure or their pain is minimal at best)

While strip and FUE hair transplant methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, the end results are almost always the same provided the grafts are extracted and implanted with the proper techniques.

If you are still undecided or have any further questions, let your doctor help you find the right procedure for you. For more information, and to schedule an in person consultation with Dr. Mohebi, please contact our office.