The first is called the Strip method (also called FUT-Follicular Unit Transplant). The names “Strip” and “FUT” are used interchangeably and mean the exact same thing. It is a procedure whereby:
- A strip of skin is painlessly and safely removed from the back of the head by a doctor under local anesthetic.
- The hair roots are then dissected out under microscopes by a team of medical technicians.
- These roots, called “follicular units” are then placed into tiny slits made by the doctor into the thinning and balding areas.
- These roots heal in their new positions and literally begin to produce growing hair starting at about 4 months.
- The area in the back of the head where the strip of skin was taken (known as the “donor area”) is simply stitched closed and heals leaving a linear scar that is easily and immediately concealed by the surrounding hair. Usually, this area may be “tapped” again for more hair if needed in the future.
This Strip procedure is known as the Gold Standard of hair transplantation and the foundation of the hair transplant industry to this day. No other procedure provides the quality and consistency of growth that the Strip (FUT) procedure does.
The second is called the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) method also popularly, but incorrectly, known as the “one by one” procedure. Rather than a strip being removed from the back of the head, a small punch tool is used to remove the hair roots individually. This method does not require the removal of a long piece of skin from the donor area as in the Strip method and therefore seems to appeal to many patients. However, there are some significant drawbacks to the FUE procedure. The first is that compared to the Strip (FUT) method, FUE is far more traumatic to the hair grafts resulting in poorer overall growth. Secondly, FUE is more traumatic to the donor area itself (the back and sides of the head) and produces more over all scarring and damage- over 10 times as much in fact. This means there will be fewer grafts available for future use if needed. Third, large FUE procedures significantly thins the donor area due to increased damage and scarring leaving the hair in that area so so thin it may stand out to the casual observer as odd. Forth, unlike Strip (FUT) where the hair is left long enough to immediately cover the incision site in the back of the head, the FUE procedure almost always requires shaving of the entire head making post operative concealment of the procedure an impossibility.
The third is called Non Strip Harvest (also known as NSH). This procedure is the middle ground between the first two hair transplant procedures mentioned above. It offers the growth yield and consistency of the Strip (FUT) procedure but without the long continuous linear scar. In this procedure tiny non-connected strips of donor area are removed from the donor area (back of the head) and immediately stitched closed leaving large spaces of untouched skin in-between. Sometimes large punches are used to remove the skin and then stitched closed. The removal method will vary depending on patient characteristics The bottom line is that there is no long continuous scar and more than enough long hair available in the back and sides to immediately conceal the procedure thereafter. This procedure is a favorite among patients who simply do not like the thought of the Strip procedure but don’t want to risk the poor growth rates and donor damage of the FUE procedure. It is also favored by patients who have had poor hair or outdated hair transplant work in the past and are looking for the best way to repair it.
Meet with a participating HTW doctor to find out which procedure is right for you.