When it comes to hair restoration surgery, there are two main ways to perform a hair transplant. The newest and most advanced method is follicular unit extraction or FUE, which removes hairs from the donor site one at a time, eliminating the need to make a large incision and the scar that typically results.
While plenty of patients decide to have FUE performed, since it reduces scarring and is ideal for transplanting just a small amount of hair, a number of patients might need a different method. Those patients might be better off with follicular unit grafting, or FUG, which involves the use of a strip of transplanted hair follicles, instead of removing them one by one.
The FUG Procedure
The major way that FUG and FUE differ is in how the donor hair is removed from the scalp. Both procedures require the use of healthy donor hairs that aren’t affected by male or female pattern baldness. Usually, these hairs are found on the side or back of the head.
During a FUG procedure, a surgeon will cut away a section of the scalp with a considerable number of donor hairs in it. After the strip is cut away, the surgeon will close the area, leaving a long scar across the side or back of the scalp. Usually, the process is performed while a patient is under local anesthesia.
Since the follicles aren’t individual, after the surgeon cuts away the strip, he will then have to prepare the hairs for transplanting. That involves dissecting and dividing the follicles into many smaller units, or grafts. Each unit typically has between two and four hairs in it.
Who Might Want It
One of the major benefits of FUG over FUE is that it allows the surgeon to transplant considerably more hairs at one time, since he removes an entire section of the back or side of the scalp. You may prefer FUG if you have had a considerable amount of hair loss.
FUG also typically produces more robust grafts than FUE, as it’s likely that the grafts will be damaged in the removal. Follicles removed by FUE often don’t have layers of fat or the dermis still attached, making them more vulnerable. Once transplanted, the lower quality grafts from FUE might be less likely to take or grow as strongly as follicles from a FUT procedure. Generally, hair regrowth after FUE is about 80 percent while about 90 percent of transplanted follicles grow after FUG.
You may also prefer FUG to FUE if you want to keep your hair long after the procedure. Before removing the hair follicles with FUE, the doctor needs to cut or shave the hair very short. For that reason, FUG is often used on female hair transplant patients. Wearing your hair long will also help conceal the scar that results from FUG.
The time it takes to perform the procedure is another thing to consider when deciding between FUG and FUE. FUE is very labor and time intensive, since the surgeon removes each follicle individually. FUG is usually a much shorter procedure. The likelihood that you’ll need two separate surgeries to get the results you want is much lower, too, since the surgeon is able to transplant more follicles at once.
You may be concerned about the long scar left after FUG. But, the scar is really not something to worry much about. In many cases, it can be concealed by your existing hair.
Plus, FUE also leaves a scar, it just leaves a different type of scar. You’ll have a tiny incision in each spot where the follicle was removed. The incisions tend to leave scars in the form of tiny dots all over the scalp. While these scars are usually not noticeable, the more FUE procedures you have, the greater the number of scars. Plus, if you continue to lose your hair, the tiny scars can become more prominent.
Scars created by FUG aren’t cumulative. Instead, if you need an additional FUG treatment after the first surgery, the surgeon will be able to conceal the original scar within the new one, so you’ll always have a single long scar across the back of the head.
At the Choe Center for Hair Restoration in Virginia Beach, Dr. Kyle Choe offers both FUE and FUG procedures. To schedule a consultation and discuss which option is right for you, contact the practice by calling (757) 389-5850 today.