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Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplant: What’s The Difference?

The revolutionary hair transplant techniques used at the Wimpole Clinic are still relatively new. As recently as the 1990s, hair transplant surgeons relied on hair plugs or hair implants to restore people’s hair. While it may sound like there are some similarities in the hair plugs vs. hair transplant technique, the results they offer are very different.

Since the development of modern hair transplant methods such as the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) procedures, hair plugs have fallen out of favour. Some people who have had hair plugs in the past look to see if they can replace their hair plugs with FUE or FUT hair transplantation.

Find out the differences between hair plugs and hair transplants to see if it’s worth upgrading your old hair plugs.

Table of Contents

What are hair plugs?

Hair plugs are the precursor to modern FUE and FUT hair transplant techniques. Like these modern methods, they’re created using follicles from your own head.

Developed in the 1950s, the hair plug process involves removing large round sections of skin — usually around 4mm in diameter — and implanting them across the bald areas of the scalp. Surgeons removed the skin using a variety of methods, often using a punch or micrograft to extract it.

Each hair plug could contain up to 30 hair follicles. Because of the size of the implants, this often led to uneven and unnatural results. They can look clumpy and doll-like since the plugs are created with relatively large areas of skin.

Although the hair plug process became faster over the years, they still took much longer than modern hair transplants. One study reported that the surgery could take 16 weeks to complete.

Hair plugs are an extremely outdated type of hair restoration that can leave large holes in your scalp that trigger hair transplant trypophobia. Learn more about the history of hair loss treatments.

What is a hair transplant?

By contrast, modern FUE and FUT hair transplants use individual hair follicles or tiny follicle groupings to achieve a much more natural look. By the time a hair transplant has fully grown, it’s basically impossible to tell that the hair has been transplanted. The only telltale sign of a hair transplant procedure can occur with FUT surgery, which usually leaves a thin scar that fades over time.

Both FUE and FUT transplants have excellent success rates, delivering results that will last your whole life.

FUE and FUT transplants are also much quicker than hair plug surgery. Modern hair transplants usually take anywhere from 4-10 hours to complete, depending on how many hair grafts you need. A hair transplant is usually completed in a single session.

While there are some similarities between FUE and FUT methods, there are also key differences to be aware of. Find out more about FUE vs FUT surgery.

What’s the difference between hair plugs and hair transplants?

Here are the major differences between hair plugs and hair transplants.

  • How long surgery takes — hair transplants take only a few hours, while hair plug surgery traditionally took weeks to complete.
  • How natural the results look — hair growth from a quality hair transplant is indistinguishable from the rest of your natural hair, while the transplanted hair from hair plugs have a distinctive clumpy doll-like appearance.
  • Recovery time — hair transplant recovery usually takes no more than a few weeks. Hair plug surgery recovery was typically much longer, due to the length and invasiveness of the surgery.
  • Potential for hair transplant scars — FUE hair transplants in particular leave virtually no scarring. However, FUT can leave a single scar across the back of the head which is hidden by long hair. Hair plug surgery though can leave multiple scars where the skin has been punched out.
  • Availability — hair plugs and hair implants are now virtually obsolete, having been overtaken by more efficient and successful modern hair transplant techniques

Can you replace hair plugs with a hair transplant?

Many people who have had hair plugs or hair implants aren’t entirely happy with their results. The distinctive clumps of hair where the follicles were implanted can make it obvious to others that you have hair plugs, which can make you feel self-conscious.

In many cases, people who have had hair plugs in the past can have FUE or FUT hair transplant surgery to make their hair look more natural.

You need to have enough donor follicles available to complete the surgery. Sometimes people who have had previous hair graft surgeries experience overharvesting, which is where your surgeon removes too many follicles from your donor area. This can leave you with insufficient hair follicles to successfully cover the affected areas on your scalp.

Your hair loss consultant will conduct a thorough hair and scalp examination before your hair transplant, so they’ll be able to tell you if you are eligible for a hair transplant.

What are the advantages of hair transplants?

It’s clear that there are many differences between the outdated hair plug process and modern hair transplants. Hair plugs have become obsolete because they are far less efficient, less cost-effective, and less successful than modern hair transplants.

With hair transplant surgery at the Wimpole Clinic, you’ll get:

  • Natural-looking hair that conceals your hair plugs
  • A 1-day procedure is completed under local anaesthetic, so you can go home the same day
  • Success rates of 97%-100%
  • A world-class surgical team who were instrumental in developing the revolutionary FUT and FUE techniques
  • Aftercare and recovery support
  • Long-lasting results — find out how long your hair transplant will last
  • Hair that gives you confidence and makes you feel great
  • Hair transplants work for those with long hair

If you’re tired of feeling self-conscious about your hair plugs, you may be able to update your look with a modern hair transplant.

Book your free hair transplant consultation

Our hair loss consultants are on-hand to give you all the information you need about getting a hair transplant. We can examine your hair loss or existing hair plugs and advise you on the best course of action to get a natural-looking head of hair.

Book a free consultation with our hair transplant experts to discuss your next hair restoration move.

Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplant: What’s The Difference?, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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