FUT (Strip Harvest Procedure) versus FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)
Today I want to discuss the scarring that is created in FUE versus FUT. In FUE procedures a small tool measuring between .8-1.0mm is used to harvest each individual follicle. In FUT a linear strip is resected and the strip is dissected into individual follicles. In FUE because we cannot extract every follicle in any one area (or we would create bald patches in the donor zone) we must extract every third or fourth follicle. Because of this, if we are trying to obtain over 1200-1500 follicles for transplantation in an FUE procedure, we must extract these follicles over the entire donor zone, which can measure up to 30cm x 10-12cm. If we were doing a 1500 graft FUE case using the 1mm extraction tool and we wanted to measure the amount of scarring produced in the donor zone by the harvest, this would create approximately 1500 x 1mm = 1500mm= 150cm of pinpoint scarring over the entire donor region. By comparison, to harvest 1500 grafts via FUT and using a density of 80 follicles per cm2 this would require a strip of about 19cm x 1cm to be resected and after normal healing this should result in a linear scar that measures 1-3mm (lets say 2mm x 20 = 40mm or 4cm of linear scar). By looking at these numbers it is clear to see that there is significantly more scarring produced in FUE procedures versus FUT procedures. The main difference is that the FUE scars are pinpoint and spread over a much larger area, while the FUT scars are linear and over a much smaller area. Also, because FUE must be harvested over a much larger area, the number of donor follicles any individual will be able to donate over a lifetime will be significantly less with FUE versus FUT. There is a still a place for FUE in Hair Transplantation, specifically with people who insist on wearing their hair at a #1 or #2 buzz cut, when the linear scar may show through even under the best of circumstances. These are the people who I generally recommend FUE to. It is imperative that every patient understand all the details related to both harvesting techniques prior to deciding which is best for them in the short term and the long term.
All the best,
Marc Dauer, MD