Hair Transplant Methods
The FUT and the FUE are the latest and most advanced methods of hair transplantation known to cosmetic surgery today, performed widely and with great success in leading hair transplantation clinics of the world. Both methods produce identical results and differ only in terms of their implementation and the transplantation techniques involved. Natural results can be attained through both methods as long as the procedures are carried out accurately and the angle and direction of the hair line is properly arranged.
The proper assessment of the health and the compatibility of the donor hair as well as the design of the hair line, the direction, depth and angle of each hair string can only be performed by a hair restoration specialist. Depending on the aesthetic perceptions and artistic skills of the hair transplant surgeon, the difference between a natural looking and poor hair restoration sometimes can be significant.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
Follicular Unit Transplantation also known as the 'strip method' involves removing a narrow densely haired strip of skin from the healthy area on the back of the head. The removed strip is analyzed by means of a microscope and decomposed into clusters (follicular units) made up of hairs and follicles also referred to as grafts (hair roots). The extraction is done without compromising hairs' structure and natural form. The follicular units and the containing follicles remain undamaged which is the biggest advantage of the FUT procedure. The newly formed tiny hair grafts are then evenly distributed and planted with the help of a specially designed pen-like tool into the scarcely haired or bald areas of the scalp to replenish any missing or thinning hair. The procedure may take between 5 and 8 hours.
The empty area on the scalp, where the hair is taken from, is being sutured (medically stitched) in compliance with all standards of plastic and reconstructive surgery. The sutures are so delicate that they are hardly visible and can be seen only provided that the hair around the surgical intervention is completely shaved off. The stitches are normally removed in two weeks time after the hair restoration procedure.
Advantages of FUT Hair Transplantation
Due to the smaller grafts used during the procedure, the FUT technique allows different levels of hair density to be achieved thus contributing to a more natural appearance and better cosmetic results. Furthermore if the transplanted hair follicles turn out to be insufficient, the method can be combined with other methods such as the FUE the very same day.
Through the FIT method, surgeons minimize the amount of hair follicles that bear the risk to be damaged in the process of extracting hair from the donor area. The FUT technique permits thousands of grafts to be transplanted in one single session thus allowing with less repetitive series of procedures maximum results to be achieved. Keeping the structure of hair follicles intact stimulates faster hair growth and higher density levels.
Disadvantages of FUT Hair Transplantation
The biggest disadvantage of this method is the linear scar that is left upon removal of the skin tissue, which may be a problem for those people who enjoy wearing their hair short. Due to this inconvenience many patients who had once undergone a FUT, later go through a second FUE procedure to cover the marks visible in the donor area.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular Unit Extraction also known as 'mini-micro grafting technique' is a hair transplant method where hair follicles are extracted individually, one by one, from the donor area (normally the back and the side of the head) with the help of very thin micro needles (0.9 - 1 mm calibre). Before the extraction begins the donor area is trimmed short with length of hair of 1 or 2 millimetres. While the extraction techniques differ in FUE and FUT methods, the transplantation process in both methods is practically one and the same. The extracted microscopic grafts of follicular units are preserved healthy in a special fluid and then examined under a microscope. Once the desired number of grafts has been extracted, the hair transplant surgeon makes tiny holes in the balding areas of the scalp where the hair roots will be transplanted. Density and pattern of the transplanted hair grafts are defined in advance so that maximum natural-looking results can be obtained. The whole procedure lasts for about eight hours. Since the method is performed without making a single surgical incision through the scalp's surface, there are no scars visible after the procedure which is also the biggest advantage of the FUE technique.
Patients normally go through a special test called 'the FOX test' in order to determine if they are good candidates for a FUE procedure. The test is performed under local anaesthesia and involves removing of few follicular units by means of a biopsy and examining them under a microscope. Depending on how easy the follicular units can be extracted from patient's scalp, the FUE method can be evaluated as suitable or unsuitable for the specific patient. If the hair extraction proves difficult alternative hair transplant methods can be advised to the patient.
Advantages of FUE Hair Transplantation
Compared to the FUT method the Follicular Unit Extraction is less invasive technique that involves no stitches, no scars, minimal bleeding and no swelling. The risks of complications are zeroed. The FUE procedure allows the skin in the donor area to heal much faster and therefore it can be repeated every couple of weeks. Patients that undergo FUE heal completely in few weeks, experience less discomfort and resume normal activities faster than patients recovering from FUT. Another asset of this method is the fact that it facilitates extraction of finer hair from any part of the body such as the hair located on the back of the neck which can be planted in the hairline or facial hair used in facial hair restoration. FUE is used with relative success in the transplantation of eyebrows, beard and moustaches.
Disadvantages of FUE Hair Transplantation
The main disadvantage of the FUE technique is the limited amount of hair that can be transplanted in one single procedure. If high number of grafts is transplanted in one FUE procedure there is a risk of thinning out of the donor area. Since follicular units are extracted one by one, there is a great chance some of the hair follicles to be damaged during the extraction process. If the percentage of damaged hair root exceeds 8% then the procedure is assessed as inefficient. The limited supply of donor hair may therefore hinder a complete hair restoration and repetitive series of FUE procedures are normally required to achieve maximum results. Sometimes in order to compensate the insufficient amount of donor hair the surgeons turn to the peripheral upper and lower ends of the donor area, where the follicular units are usually of much poorer quality compared to the ones located in the middle zone. The duration of the FUE procedure is also longer than the FUT method, where depending on the number of grafts needed, it could be extended from 7-9 hours (average 1500 grafts) to 9-10 hours (2000 grafts). Due to this reason the FUE method proves to be more exhausting and more expensive technique compared to the FUT hair transplantation.