by George Georgiou,Hair Transplant Consultant at HDC
Hair transplant is a permanent method of hair restoration using your existing hair. The growth is permanent as donor hair taken from the back of the scalp, has a lifetime permanency in contrast to the hair on top of the scalp, which is lost due to genetic makeup. The transplanted hair starts following its normal growth cycle approximately three months after the procedure.
Hair transplants have come a long way in the last twenty years and various methods exist today. Various treatment centres and surgeons have their own specific procedures. The actual fact that you may find a plethora of different procedures when researching, but in truth hair transplant techniques have developed and refined into only two principal methods that revolve around transferring individual follicular unit grafts in their intact genetic form.
These two methods are the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) method and the STRIP harvesting method. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. In theory, both are suitable for the majority of patients and the individual will know which one is better suited to their needs after a thorough consultation with a hair transplant specialist.
HDC Medical Team during an FUE hair transplant procedure
The principal difference between FUE and STRIP lies in the extraction process. The placing process where the extracted hair follicles are implanted on the scalp is usually very similar for both, if not identical. The STRIP method is also referred to as Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and is considered a more traditional way of extracting donor hair, in contrast to the FUE which is considered more contemporary because it has only been available the last 10 years.
During the STRIP method the grafts are harvested in a group whereby the surgeon excises a strip of hair and tissue from the back of the scalp. The hair bearing strip is then dissected into individual follicular units by hair transplant technicians, under fibre optic equipped microscopes to avoid the application of heat to the grafts. They are then placed in the thinning or balding regions, where the surgeon has made recipient sites.
Follicular Unit Dissection during Strip hair transplantation
The wound is closed with the use of sutures or sometimes staples. The revolution in this method in recent years, is the use of the trigrowthic or trycophytic closure method. This method tries to minimize the visibility of a linear scar. When compared with the FUE surgery, the donor area after a strip excision surgery will require more time to fully heal. This scar may be detectable if the patient opts to wear their hair very short, and may even stretch over time. As the strip procedure is more economical, it can be more attractive to some patients that have a limited budget.
Traditionally, if maximum donor harvest is required, a higher number of grafts can be extracted in one sitting by the Strip method, especially for patients with a rich donor area that exceeds 100 grafts/cm². Nowadays, a typical FUE session can harvest 2500-3000 grafts, compared to the small sessions of up to a 1000 that were carried out in the early days when the FUE was offered, where in some cases a strip can bear 4000 grafts or more. If you have a larger area that needs to be covered, an FUE is not the most cost effective solution.
In cases that the desired recipient area is too large and cannot be treated in one sitting, then a further strip procedure can take place approximately nine months or later from first procedure. Apart from the scalp, FUE grafts can also be extracted from various parts of body , the beard, chest, abdomen, legs etc which expands immensely the capability of a patient’s donor area , especially if the person is hirsute. The two procedures can also complement each other when combined as 5000 grafts or more can be extracted in the one sitting. And a skilled doctor can use FUE grafts to cover scars from previous STRIP procedures.
The FUE is an approach that does not involve either a scalpel or stitches, resulting to significantly less down time, due to faster healing. Every single follicle is extracted individually; making this is a time consuming and labor intensive process. A significant benefit is that controlled and careful extraction of donor hair is very lenient to the skin and scalp. Complications are very rare, and scars are not detectable after only a few days. The surgeon performing FUE can select the follicular units that will offer the most hairs per graft, and produce an optimal yield. FUE is characterized for its non invasive nature which produces very tiny scars in the donor area that are impossible to detect with the naked eye. The surgeon’s skills and experience plays a big part in both procedures. A strip procedure may limit the surgeon to using only those hairs found in the excised strip of scalp tissue, so he or she has to use their artistry for efficient distribution to achieve the best possible result.
An FUE is an excellent option for a small hair transplant, such as to restore the hairline in early stages of baldness. It is also the best option when the doctor does not recommend a STRIP, if the scalp is too tight or has existing damage, e.g. has undergone several STRIP procedures.
The FUE technique offers a number of advantages over the FUT or Strip procedure as it does not create any visible scarring and requires less healing and recovery time post-surgery. At the present time, FUE is considered by many as the latest and most refined approach to hair transplantation. While it is essential to understand the main differences between the two methods, only a hair transplant specialist can advise which method is best for you, considering your specific needs and desired outcome.
At HDC we respect all our clients and are committed to treat them as individuals. Our patient coordinators in liaison with our experienced surgeons can offer you an extensive consultation that will detail surgery options and let you make your own mind. Our approach has guaranteed hundreds of happy clients over the years.
If you wish to get advice on your hair loss or hair replacement options, please fill up our online form.