During a hair transplant procedure, hair follicles are extracted from the donor area of the scalp and transplanted into the recipient area where hair loss has occurred. One of the key differences between Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is the way in which the donor hair is harvested, and this difference affects the need for shaving the head.
In FUE, the hair follicles are extracted one by one using a small punch tool. To ensure precision and minimize damage to the surrounding hair, it is necessary to shave the donor area of the scalp very short. By having a closely shaved head, the hair transplant surgeon can easily identify and access the individual hair follicles for extraction. The extracted hair follicles are then transplanted into the recipient area, where they will grow as new hair. The need for extensive shaving can vary depending on, for example, the surgeon’s approach, the individual circumstances of the patient or the number of hair follicles that need to be harvested.
On the other hand, FUT involves the removal of a thin strip of hair-bearing skin from the donor area, usually from the back of the scalp. The strip is then dissected under a microscope to obtain individual follicular units, which are subsequently transplanted into the recipient area. Since the hair is harvested as a strip, there is no need to shave the entire back and sides of the head in FUT. Instead, only the area from which the strip is removed needs to be trimmed or shaved, allowing the surrounding hair to cover the sutured incision and resulting scar from the day of the procedure.
Although there is a difference in how the individual hair follicles are harvested during FUE and FUT, the transplanting of the individual hair follicles to the recipient area does not differ in technique and therefore will have the same end result.
When taking future hairstyles into account following a hair transplant procedure, FUE allows for shaven hairstyles without having a noticeable linear scar at the back of the head, whilst the scar at the back of the head from a FUT procedure can easily be camouflaged by keeping the surrounding hair length a bit longer.
The decision between FUE and FUT depends on various factors, including the patient’s preferences, hair loss pattern, donor hair availability, and the surgeon’s recommendation. While FUE offers the advantage of not leaving a linear scar at the back of the head, it typically requires shaving the entire donor area. FUT, on the other hand, leaves a linear scar but does not require shaving the entire back and sides of the head, making it a preferred option for individuals who want to maintain longer hair length immediately after the procedure.