The hair transplant industry has boomed over the last few years. As more men and women turn to cosmetic procedures to restore their hair — and their confidence — it’s important for prospective patients to know the facts about getting a hair transplant.
One of the biggest decisions is establishing which type of procedure is right for you. The 2 most popular types of hair transplant are FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation).
These procedures sound similar — and in some ways they are. Both FUE and FUT offer excellent hair transplant success rates and create lifelong results.
But there are also notable differences between FUT and FUE procedures. When it comes to cost, appearance, recovery time and how the procedure works, there are certain distinctions you should be aware of before you make your treatment choice.
What is FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)?
Follicular unit extraction involves harvesting individual follicles from an area on your head where there is lots of healthy hair growth. These follicles are then inserted into the scalp where hair loss has occurred.
FUE is a newer procedure than FUT, but has now become the most popular option for hair transplant patients. The 2022 ISHRS Practice Census found that 75.4% of male patients worldwide opted for FUE surgery .
What is FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation)?
Follicular unit transplantation is a more invasive procedure than FUE. It involves removing strips of skin from the donor area of your scalp (usually the back of the head) which contain a high volume of hair follicles. The strips are sliced into smaller groups of follicles, which are then transplanted into the thinning areas across the scalp.
Watch our hair loss consultant Matt Devlin explain the key contrasts between FUE and FUT.
What are the key differences between FUE and FUT?
FUE and FUT achieve the same results in different ways. There are 4 key differences you should be aware of before you choose your hair transplant type: cost, the procedure itself, recovery time, and appearance.
Because FUE involves removing individual hair follicles, it usually takes longer to complete than FUT. The lengthier process and the intricacy of the procedure makes FUE a more expensive option than FUT.
FUT hair transplants are significantly faster to complete, so they’re less expensive. FUT is especially popular with patients who require a large number of grafts on a budget. See our hair transplant prices for more information.
Takeaway: FUT is cheaper and faster than FUE.
FUE is a much longer process than FUT. Both surgeries are typically completed within a day, but you can expect to be in the chair longer if you choose FUE.
That’s because the FUE procedure is more precise and intricate than FUT. Rather than removing an entire strip of skin from the back of the head, each follicle is removed individually using a punch that leaves minimal damage. This diagram shows the key processes within each procedure.
In FUT, after the strip of skin has been removed, the wound in the donor area will be sutured closed. This isn’t necessary in FUE because the extraction wounds are tiny, so they’ll scab over by themselves. That makes FUT a more invasive procedure than FUE.
Takeaway: FUT is more invasive than FUE, but takes less time to complete.
3. Recovery time
Because FUT is more invasive than FUE, the recovery timeline is usually longer and less comfortable. All hair transplant patients need to take care of their hair transplants after surgery, but FUT patients should be particularly careful due to the sutures in their donor area.
Takeaway: Recovery is usually easier and faster with an FUE procedure.
When the wound in your donor area has healed after FUT, you’ll be left with a thin but visible scar. In most cases, the hair transplant scar will eventually be hidden by your hair growth, especially if you wear your hair long. If you choose to crop your hair short, the scar may be visible.
FUE procedures leave little to no scarring. The follicle extraction method is cleaner than the strip method used in FUT. The small scabs that form will eventually heal completely, offering a more natural look. See close up photos and videos of a hair transplant to see what your results could look like.
Takeaway: FUE leaves virtually no scarring, while FUT will leave you with a faded but visible scar.
Which procedure is more painful?
Both procedures are conducted under anaesthetic, so you won’t feel anything during the procedure itself. In both cases, you’re likely to feel some soreness and tenderness in your scalp in the days after the anaesthetic wears off.
Because FUT involves removing significant areas of skin, soreness is likely to linger for longer with this procedure. If needed, you can ask your consultant which medications they recommend for pain management. Learn more about if having a hair transplant hurts.
Which procedure looks more realistic?
Both FUT and FUE procedures offer highly realistic results. The donor hair is taken from your own head, so there’s no reason to think the result will look unnatural or fake.
The only cosmetic distinction is that FUT usually results in a narrow scar on the back of the head. Your hair will hide this when it grows back.
Is there a difference in success rate between FUE and FUT?
Wimpole Clinic’s hair loss consultant, Matt Devlin, notes that while some studies have shown FUT to be more effective than FUE, it’s really too close to call.
There is very little difference in the success rates in FUE versus FUT. Other factors — such as the experience of your surgeon and your aftercare treatment — can also impact the success of your procedure. So no matter which procedure you choose, it’s important to do everything you can to maximise the chances of getting the results you want.
FUT vs FUE results in pictures
The results of FUT and FUE are identical. The only aesthetic difference is the small scar left behind by strip surgery. (Elon Musk’s hair transplant was an FUT procedure — he has slight evidence of scarring at the side of his head.)
Otherwise, the results are the same. Take a look at these real patient post-hair transplant photos for proof!
Afro hair transplant — left: FUE results; right: FUT results
Crown hair transplant — left: FUE results; right: FUT results
Hairline hair transplant — left: FUE results; right: FUT results
Which is right for you: FUT vs FUE?
Every patient is different — from your budget to how many hair grafts you’ll need. So it’s important to consider your personal circumstances when deciding which transplant type is right for you.
In general, FUE suits people on a bigger budget, or those who are looking for a swift recovery time with minimal scarring. FUT, meanwhile, is often chosen by people who need a large number of grafts on a lower budget, and those who don’t mind a slower recovery period.
Book a consultation
The best way to decide which hair transplant procedure is right for you is to speak to a professional hair transplant consultant. At the Wimpole Clinic, we offer free consultation so you can ask as many questions as you need to about the hair transplant process.
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