Scalp trauma, medical conditions, and normal aging are all possible causes of hair thinning or loss. A hair transplant replaces follicles into the area of thinning or loss so that the hair can regrow. There are two different hair transplant procedures available. Each involves collecting grafts from areas of the body with denser hair growth. The surgeon then cuts slits into the area of the scalp affected by the hair loss and inserts the harvested grafts into the resulting holes. When the surgical site heals, hair will regrow in the previous area of hair loss. It can take up to a year to see the full effect.
The difference between the two procedures is not in the transplant itself. Rather, it is in the method of harvesting the grafts.
Follicular Unit Extraction
This method involves extracting individual hair follicles using a tiny punch tool. For this to be effective, the surgeon has to trim the hair in the donor site to identify how the hairs exit the surface of the scalp. However, since most of the area of hair growth remains intact, it covers up the donor site so that it is not visible once the graft has been taken.
Follicular unit extraction requires unique skill to complete successfully. It is the less-common method of collecting grafts for hair transplant. Grafts are usually collected for FUE from the back or sides of the head. However, it is also possible to take grafts from other areas of the body with dense hair growth, such as the chest, back, or chin.
Follicular Unit Strip Surgery
Instead of harvesting individual follicles, this method involves removing a crescent-shaped strip of skin from the donor area. As with FUE, the donor site is numbed with local anesthetic, and the site is hidden by normal hair growth after the doctor closes the incision with stitches. The strip of skin harvested may be between six and 10 inches in length. The graft is then divided into micro-grafts, each bearing a few hair follicles at most. These are then transplanted into the area of hair loss in the manner already described. Follicular unit strip surgery does not require quite the same level of skill that FUE does, although both require a well-trained and experienced surgeon. The FUSS procedure does not take as long as FUE.
The results from the two procedures may be different. A hair transplant surgeon like Dr. Robin Unger can discuss your options for your hair transplant and whether you are a candidate for either procedure.