What is the Difference between FUE and FUT Hair Transplantation

In this video Dr. Sara Wasserbauer explains the difference in the two hair transplant techniques.

FUE/Traditional Comparison

Comparison Traditional Method
(“Strip” or “FUT”)
Follicular Unit Extraction (“FUE”)
Average number of grafts ~2300 (range 500-4000) ~1800 (Range 500-2400)
Visibility of scarring Linear scar visible generally when hair cut less than #3 clipper setting Diffuse pinpoint scarring generally invisible down to #1 clipper setting but still visible on certain heads and if scalp is completely shaved
Total square area of scarring 2-4 cm2 (20cm X 0.1-0.2cm = 2-4 cm2) 56 cm2 [1800 X PiR2= 56cm2where R = radius of typical FUE punch which is 0.1cm)]
MD Level of technical expertise needed to extract grafts Low High
Staff Level of technical expertise needed to assist with extraction and place grafts Medium to High High
Graft growth 95%+ expected Unknown but early studies have shown the growth to be comparable.  Grafts acquired with this technique can require more delicate handling (hence the high level of staff technical expertise needed)
Best for hair length Short but not shaved (i.e. greater than #3 clipper setting) or long Buzzed short (i.e. less than #3 clipper setting)
Depth of incision 1-4mm 1-4mm (note that this is just as invasive/deep as a traditional method incision)
Best for hair type Any Straight and darker are better but light or curly hair is not an absolute contraindication (meaning you can still do it but often the transection rate will be higher)
Best for skin type in donor area 20% elasticity or higher Any elasticity
Transection rate 0-2% 5-8%
Anticipated density 20-50 F/U per square centimeter typically 20-50 F/U per square centimeter typically
Recovery time at donor area 7-10 days until stitches removed 3 days until healed, 10 days until hair re-grows enough to camouflage area
Recovery time at Recipient area 3 days – 7 days 3 days – 7 days
Time until you can resume strenuous workouts Most MDs recommend waiting until after suture removal About a week
Coffee/Alcohol pre-operatively? No No

As a patient considering hair restoration surgery, it is difficult to sort out which of the current techniques; traditional “strip” surgery (often erroneously referred to as FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (often abbreviated FUE).  Right now on the internet, much of the hype centers around FUE which is the latest technique to be adopted by hair transplant surgeons.  New and exciting devices exist to perform this procedure and several of these device companies market directly to patients, further confusing the task of deciding which might be right for you!

The absolute best way to decide which method might be best would be to see your hair transplant surgeon and lay out your goals for your hair.  Along with developing a long term plan for your hair, a well-trained and experienced hair surgeon can point out the benefits and risks of each technique and how it might fit into your goals.  To that end, here is a side-by-side comparison of both techniques to help the layperson begin to tease out which method might be the best for them.  Calculations and statistics cited are based on my own clinical data and experience from 2000+ cases.  Hopefully, it will help clarify some of the confusing claims surrounding both of these techniques.