When you’ve decided to get a hair transplant, one of the biggest decisions is establishing which type of hair transplant procedure is right for you. The 2 most popular hair transplant techniques are FUE (follicular unit extraction) and FUT (follicular unit transplantation).
These hair transplant procedures sound similar and in some ways they are. At the Wimpole Clinic, both FUT and FUE transplants offer excellent hair transplant success rates and lifelong results.
However, there are also notable differences between the FUT and FUE procedures. While the results are indistinguishable from each other (and your natural hair), 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.
Let’s explore all the differences between these popular hair transplant methods.
Follicular unit extraction (FUE) involves harvesting individual hair follicles from a donor area on your head where there is lots of healthy hair growth. These hair follicles are then inserted into the scalp where hair loss has occurred.
FUE is a newer hair transplant procedure than FUT, but has now become the most popular option amongst hair transplant patients. The 2022 ISHRS Practice Census found that 75.4% of male patients worldwide opted for FUE hair transplant surgery .
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is more invasive than the FUE surgery. 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 hair 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 hair transplants.
FUE and FUT procedures achieve the same results in different ways. There are 4 key differences you should be aware of before you choose your hair transplant method: cost, the procedure itself, recovery time, and appearance.
Since FUE transplants involve removing individual follicular units, it usually takes longer to complete than a FUT hair transplant. Even though the procedure is lengthier, a FUE hair transplant is often cheaper than the FUT procedure. That’s because FUT is a more involved, invasive procedure, so it requires more surgical team members who have a wealth of FUT experience behind them.
See our hair transplant prices for more information.
FUE is normally cheaper than FUT.
The FUE procedure is a much longer process than FUT, so FUE hair transplant surgery can take longer to complete. 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 hair follicle is removed individually using a punch that leaves minimal damage. This diagram shows the key processes within each procedure.
In the FUT procedure, after the strip of skin has been removed, the wound in the donor area will be sutured closed leaving a linear scar. This isn’t necessary for the FUE procedure because the extraction wounds are tiny, so they’ll scab over by themselves. That makes FUT a more invasive procedure than FUE.
FUT is more invasive than FUE, but takes less time to complete.
As FUT surgeries are 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.
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.
Both FUT and FUE offer identical results. However, FUE leaves virtually no scarring, while FUT will leave you with a faded but visible linear scar that is visible on short hair.
Both procedures are conducted under anaesthetic, so you won’t feel anything during the surgery itself. In both cases, you’re likely to feel some soreness and tenderness in your scalp in the days after the anaesthetic wears off.
Since 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.
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.
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.
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 a FUT procedure and 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 result. Right: FUT hair transplant results
Crown hair transplant – Left: FUE transplant results. Right: FUT hair transplant results.
Hairline hair transplant – Left: FUE transplant results. Right: FUT hair transplant results.
Female hair transplant – Left: FUE results of hair transplant into scar tissue. Right: FUT hair transplant results. See all our hair transplant before and after photos for more.
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. Our friendly, expert patient advisors can offer as much guidance and information as you need to help you make your decision.
In general, FUE hair transplants suit 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 hair grafts or have specific hair types, as well as those who don’t mind a slower recovery period.
The best way to decide which transplant procedure is right for you is to speak to a professional hair transplant consultant.
The Wimpole Clinic has been awarded the UK’s best hair transplant clinic three years’ running. With more than 10,000 hair transplants under our belt, we’re well-placed to help you make the decision between FUE and FUT.
At the Wimpole Clinic, we have more than 48 years’ experience delivering hair transplants, and our surgical team has been instrumental in developing modern hair transplant methods. We offer free consultations so you can ask as many questions as you need to about the hair transplant process.
Book your free consultation with the Wimpole Clinic’s experienced hair transplant specialists and get all the impartial advice you need to make your decision.
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