Traditionally, hair harvested for transplant has been removed as a strip from the back of the scalp, cut into individual hair shafts under a microscope and transplanted to the front of the head or other areas where the hair is missing. The area where the strip is harvested is then closed.
The newest tool in hair transplant is FUE or Follicular Unit Extraction. This tool harvests one hair follicle at a time leaving a small puncture to heal in.
Each technology has pros and cons and yet each has a place.
While strip excision leaves a scar it is generally well tolerated and well hidden. Only the area where the strip is taken is shaved so when the scalp is closed the scar is covered by the hair above it. Strip excision allows a large amount of hair to be harvested and because dissection of the hair is done under a microscope It gives the highest yield of good grafts.
FUE requires shaving a large area initially to have enough room for hair harvest. The hair that remains will take time to grow back. It is not scarless but leaves very small marks in the scalp that remaining hair will cover when it grows in. Follicular Unit Extraction takes longer so it may require more sessions. FUE can have a lower rate of hair harvest, particularly in people with curly hair, because the shaft can sometimes be transected.
So which one do I use? Both. They both have the place and their indications. FUE is great for smaller areas such as augmenting a frontal hairline. A strip may be better for someone looking for more grafts to cover the entire top of the head.
The key is that having both allows me to give our patients good options and hone in on which is best for them. FUE and strip graft are both good tools when applied properly.
Give us a call if you want to learn which option may make the most sense for you.