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Comparing Hair Restoration Techniques: Follicular Unit Extraction vs. Traditional Methods

Introduction to Hair Restoration Techniques

Hair restoration is not just about getting back lost hair. It’s about regaining confidence and feeling good about yourself. Over the years, methods to restore hair have evolved significantly. Gone are the days of obvious and unappealing hair plugs. Now, we have techniques that offer natural-looking results. Two main methods dominate the conversation: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and traditional techniques like the strip method. FUE involves removing individual hair follicles from the scalp and transplanting them to balding areas. It’s known for less scarring and a quicker recovery. “Traditional” method such as Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), and others involve removing a strip of skin from the back of the head, extracting hair follicles, and then transplanting them. Below we describe several types.


EEDE E ACE EDDAFUnderstanding Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

FUE is a modern hair restoration method that stands out from traditional techniques. Instead of taking a strip of scalp from the back of your head, FUE involves picking out individual hair follicles one by one. It’s like the difference between plucking berries from a bush versus cutting off a whole branch. FUE is less invasive, which means you won’t have a big scar. Your recovery time is faster, and the discomfort is usually less. Think of FUE as a precise, targeted approach to filling in those bald spots. Each hair gets its own little journey from a crowded area of your scalp to a place where it’s needed more. This method offers a more natural look, and since it’s less noticeable, you can keep your hair short without a visible scar telling everyone about the procedure you had. But remember, the expertise of your surgeon plays a big role in how well it turns out. So, FUE might be your go-to if you’re after minimal downtime and scar-free results.

FUE is a “generic term”, it describes follicular unit extraction process. There are several types of FUE:

  1. Manual extraction using hand held devices
    1. S.A.F.E. FUE
    2. ATERA FUE
    3. Ellis FUE
    4. Cole FUE
    5. WAW FUE
    6. Sapphire FUE
  2. Pneumatic extraction
    1. NeoGraft
    2. SmartGraft
  3. Robotic extraction and implantation (Artas)
    1. Artas can do both parts of transplantation process

There are obvious differences in all methods above, most surgeons choose 1-2 types in their practice. Please see separate blog  “Types of FUE”

Overview of Traditional Hair Restoration Methods

NOTE: Traditional methods have been almost entirely replaced by FUE type of procedures.

Traditional hair restoration methods have been around for decades, providing hope to those experiencing hair loss. The most recognized method is the hair transplant surgery, which involves moving hair you already have to fill areas with thin or no hair. Doctors have been doing these surgeries since the 1950s, but techniques have considerably advanced over the years.

Another common technique is the scalp reduction. It involves removing some parts of the scalp that don’t have hair and closing the space with the parts that have hair. This method is less common now due to the popularity and effectiveness of other techniques.

Then there’s the tissue expansion. It sounds a bit sci-fi, but it’s a real thing. Doctors implant a tissue expander under a hair-growing part of your scalp. The expander gradually increases in size, making the hair-bearing sections of your scalp larger. This extra skin with hair is then used to cover up balding parts.

Lastly, Flap surgery is another traditional method where a large section of bald scalp is removed, and a flap of hair-bearing skin is placed onto the bald area while still attached at one end to its original blood supply.

While effective, these traditional methods can be pretty invasive and come with longer recovery times. They’re still used today, albeit very rarely.

Comparing Results Between FUE and Traditional Methods

FUE  involves taking individual hair follicles from your scalp and repositioning them in bald spots. Traditional methods rely on removing a strip of skin with hair from your head and then dividing it into smaller pieces for transplantation.

Studies show that both methods roughly have the same success rate.

FUE leaves significantly less noticeable scars.

Recovery and Healing: What to Expect with Each Method

FUE Method: quicker recovery period, about 7 to 10 days, leaves minimal to no scarring—tiny dots that are easily hidden under your hair. It can be used for scalp hair, eyebrows or beard transplantation.

Traditional Method:  take a longer to heal, 10 to 14 days.  This method leaves a large linear scar. It can be used only for scalp hair.

Costs: FUE versus Traditional Hair Restoration at Dr. Hair of Chicago

FUE  eyebrows $3,500 – $7,500 beard and scalp restoration

Traditional Method: We do not recommend this method, and have stopped performing these types of procedures.