Strip vs FUE: All About The Most Popular & Effective Surgical Hair Transplant Methods

Hair loss is of great concern among young men – and even older gentlemen and women – in more or less every culture worldwide. Over time, this often becomes the source of a great amount of worry and psychological stress, which ultimately affects the daily lives of people that experience hair loss. Fortunately, surgical hair restoration solutions are effective and readily available – as long as you can answer the question of choosing between Strip VS FUE.

man with hair loss

Approximately 40% of men suffer from visible hair loss by age thirty-five, and a staggering 65% by age sixty. What’s surprising is that there’s a statistically significant number of women that experience hair loss, too – it’s not something exclusive to the male population, as many tend to think. Whatever the cause of that hair loss may be, surgical hair transplant is a valid and effective hair restoration technique literal millions of doctors and patients swear by. 

Starting in the 1990s, hair transplantation procedures have come a long way to become effective, efficient, affordable, and virtually painless. And, as there are two popular approaches available, hair restoration patients are able to enjoy the liberty of picking the hair transplant method that best fits their individual needs. 

These surgical hair transplant methods are Linear Strip Excision and Follicular Unit Excision (FUE). Deciding between Strip VS FUE isn’t simple, as each comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Read on to get a grasp of what each method is all about and see which is the one that would benefit you the most. 

 

Follicular Unit Transplantation – A Surgical Hair Restoration Method That’s Trustworthy, Effective, Tried, And True 

Linear Strip Excision, often referred to as Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or the Strip procedure, is the traditional and most common surgical hair transplant method. In Linear Strip Excision, your hair restoration specialist surgically removes a thin strip of healthy tissue from a “safe” donor area in the back of the scalp. That strip is then subjected to stereo-microscopic dissection and harvested for strong, healthy individual follicular units, which are in turn subjected to specialized slivering to create grafts. The surgical hair restoration specialist – in our office, Dr. Williams himself – will create recipient sites or slits in the balding areas of the scalp, focusing on creating the proper direction and angle. Finally, the grafts when inserted in the sites typically in 6 months produce new  hair follicles and create a natural-looking hairline.

The entire hair restoration procedure is performed under local anesthetic and light sedation. Postoperative bleeding and complication risks are low, and the donor site typically is fully recovered within a period of one to two weeks.

 

 

Follicular Unit Excision – The Next Step In Successful Surgical Hair Transplant Procedures 

Follicular Unit Excision, commonly known as FUE, follows the same base principles as the Follicular Unit Transplantation procedure described above – only finetuned to be less invasive. Instead of harvesting whole strips of tissue, FUE focuses on harvesting specific individual hair follicles to create healthy grafts. The skin is incised with a minimal depth 0.90 to 0.95mm scoring punch, and small naturally occurring hair units are removed and placed in special bio-enhanced solutions to preserve follicle viability. Then, much like in the Linear Strip Excision technique, the grafts are strategically implanted in the recipient site. 

FUE leaves only minimal puncture scars that are usually smaller than 1.5mm. No sutures, staples, or scalpels are required. There’s almost no postoperative bleeding, and surgical recovery only takes a few days. The whole procedure is so minimally invasive, in fact, that patients are actually able to immediately resume their daily lives and limited physical activity the next day with virtually no restriction.

 

 

Strip Vs FUE – The Pros & Cons Of The Two Harvesting Methods Compared To The Other 

When it comes down to brass tacks, these two surgical hair implantation techniques may be both effective and have a lot in common, but can produce vastly different results. The individual strengths and weaknesses of Strip VS FUE compared to each other mainly have to do with their different hair follicle harvesting techniques, the quality of grafts they produce, and the visible scarring they leave behind. 

Linear Strip Excision leaves a visible, strip-like scar mark in the donor area of the patient’s head, which usually requires them to wear their hair a bit longer to cover it. Comparably, FUE only leaves tiny pinpricks. At worst, these tiny dots can be a bit discolored. At best, they are virtually invisible, even if the patient favors very short hairstyles. 

On the other hand, the grafts harvested via the Linear Strip Excision process tend to be stronger and have better viability rates, as it’s a more efficient harvesting method. It is, however, more surgically invasive than FUE, so naturally it comes with more postoperative pain, bleeding, and risk of infection, as well as a longer recovery period. 

 

  FUE  Strip 
Use of Scalpel, Sutures, Or Staples  No  Yes 
Surgical Operating Time – 2500 Grafts  5-8 Hours  5-8 Hours 
Invasiveness Of Procedure  +++ 
Typical Length Hair Preference  Short  Medium 
Short hair Required Prior To Procedure  Yes  No 
Donor Site Linear Scar  No  Yes 
Maximum Follicles Harvested Per Session  2500-3000  2500-3000 
Typical Healing Time Of Donor Site  5-7 Days  10-14 Days 
Local Tumescent Anesthesia / Oral Sedation  Yes  Yes 
Postoperative Tight Scalp Sensation  No  Yes 
Risk Of Bleeding & Nerve Damage  No  Low 
Donor Hypopigmentation  Yes  No 
Risk Of Donor Site Infection  Very Low  Low 

 

 

So, Which Of The Two Is Best – Strip Or FUE? 

Well… when it comes to Strip VS FUE and surgical hair transplantation and restoration, things aren’t exactly black and white. 

The short answer is that the best hair transplant method is the one that will lead to a natural-looking result for patients. That’s why we at Orange County make it our first priority to NOT perform “pluggy” hair transplants that result in unnatural-looking hair and hairlines. Unlike hair restoration facilities that have non-physicians performing hair surgery, Dr. Williams – a veritable expert on the field with a long list of accolades – has a strict Critical-to-Quality-Steps method that consistently produces natural results. 

That said, both FUE and Linear Strip Excision techniques are valid, tried, and true harvesting methods. They both possess  their pros and cons, and the choice between the two techniques should be approached on a case-by-case, patient-by-patient basis. 

 

Okay Then, Which Is The Method That Fits Me? 

Considering the pros and cons of Strip vs FUE mentioned above, opting for one of the treatments or the other can be a bit of a dilemma at times – even to experienced medics and surgeons. As a rule of thumb, however, Follicular Unit Excision is the most common choice by candidates that want greater flexibility with their hairstyles, as well as people with smaller balding patterns, short hair, and patients that have already had a previous hair transplant procedure. 

 

The Strip process, on the other hand, would better fit people who prefer wearing their hair long and can not cut their hair short. Patients with more advance hair loss patterns may also want a strip-FUE Combination procedure  as 4000- 5000 grafts may be transplanted in a single day surgical session.   Dr. Williams is only one a handful of surgeons in the United States that routinely performs the strip-FUE Combination procedure.

 

Of course, the previous harvesting guidelines must be individualized with each patient. There is never a one size fit approach for every patient.  There are other important information and personal factors to consider when opting for one specific hair surgery harvesting  technique. There’s no better person to guide you through that difficult choice than a verified and experienced surgical hair restoration professional, so the best thing to do would be to consult with your doctor. 

 

To learn more about which hair restoration procedure and approach fits you the best, schedule your appointment at Orange County Hair Restoration with Dr. Ken Williams via our appointment request form.

 

 

…But Do These Procedures Actually Work? 

In short, yes. Yes, they do. 

If you’re looking for proof of these surgical hair transplant procedures’ effectiveness, all you have to do is take a look at Dr. Williams himself; not only has he a long and well-documented track record in the field, he’s also a walking, talking testament to the viability and success of hair restoration surgery himself.

 

Dr. Ken L. Williams

Diplomate Hair Surgeon Dr. Ken L. Williams

Dr. Williams practices medical and surgical hair restoration for men and women. His private practice is dedicated to the art and science of hair restoration. He is a Diplomate of ABHRS, the only surgical organization that certifies surgeons. Our hair doctor is also a Fellow of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (FISHRS). He is an expert in regenerative PRP and surgical hair restoration in treating hair loss in men and women. He was one of the early cosmetic hair transplant surgeons to incorporate Follicular Unit Excision into his surgical hair practice, and he relates easily to his hair loss patients as he is a FUE surgical recipient of approximately 10,200 follicular grafts. His office is located in the heart of Orange County in the city of Irvine, along the Laguna and Newport Coasts.