hair transplant surgeryHair transplant surgery is the only way to restore hair permanently but there can be a lot of confusion about what exactly it entails.

What is strip excision?

This is the original method for gaining follicular units from the scalp. It involves removing a strip of scalp, complete with numerous hair follicles. Once the strip has been removed from the scalp, individual hair follicles are then extracted from the strip, under the microscope. The strip is usually removed from an area of hair growth that is least likely to be affected by the balding process.

This procedure can leave the patient with a long scar on their scalp, but hair growth around it will make it almost imperceptible.

What is FUE?

Follicular Unit Extraction is the gold standard for hair transplantation. Rather than removing an area of the scalp as with strip excision, the secondary procedure takes place directly on the patient. There is no resultant scar, and the donor site recovers more quickly. However the procedure is time-consuming and must be conducted with great care by highly skilled surgeons.

What is FUT?

Whether a patient is treated by a specialist of either method – and both have their own advocates among the medical profession – the next step is Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT. Under a local anaesthetic, the surgeon will make lots of tiny incisions in your scalp, in the recipient site. Each follicular unit will then be carefully placed into the incision where, over time, it will heal and the hair follicle will continue its growth cycle.

This is the procedure that requires the greatest amount of skill and artistry in the surgeon. In consultation with the patient an agreed hairline will be mapped out and hoped-for end product hair density will be established.

Thereafter it is down to the surgeon to create a realistic pattern of hair on the scalp: a careful balance between even yet random distribution of hair.

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By Ian Watson

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