There's a lot of misinformation passed around the internet, and most of it is due to marketing and ignorance. Most blogs and articles repeat what someone else has already said without critically verifying or thinking about those statements. Well, that's not what we're going to do in this article. In this article, we're going to break down all of the positives and negatives of each harvesting technique so that you will be in a better position to make an informed decision.
What is Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS)
FUSS or strip surgery is a moderately invasive surgical procedure. The surgical technique involves a surgeon removing a strip of hair-bearing tissue. Technicians dissect the strip of tissue under a microscope into follicular units. Follicular units come in groupings of one (1), two (2), three (3), and four (4) hairs per unit. Once the strip is removed and dissected, the incision is sutured and closed.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of FUSS?
FUSS is a technique that was once considered the gold standard for surgical hair restoration. In recent years, the method has lost popularity. Many up-and-coming surgeons rarely learn the technique, and very few technicians know how to sliver and dissect strips of tissue. Nevertheless, there are a lot of positives to the strip technique.
The most significant advantage of the strip technique is removing a large number of grafts without changing the donor's appearance. FUSS is highly efficient. A skilled clinic can remove thousands of grafts in one surgical session without compromising the donor site.
Another advantage to the strip technique is removing hair from the most DHT-resistant area of the scalp. Every individual has a 'safe' zone. The safe site refers to the section on the scalp where the hair has a low risk of thinning. Typically, this zone is correct in the middle for most, but it depends on the individual and your balding pattern. If you have retrograde alopecia, the safe location may be higher. With strip, you can remove the maximum amount of grafts from the safest place.
The most significant disadvantage with FUSS is the permanent linear scar that will be from ear to ear. If you wear your hair long, it won't make much of a difference, but this technique may not be for you if you like to wear short buzz cuts. Another disadvantage is the recovery period. It can take several months for the scar to heal, and during that time, you should refrain from putting any strain on your head and neck. If you're an active person, this may be a deal-breaker for you. It is worth mentioning that the pain and discomfort, while mild in comparison to most surgeries, is still significantly higher than Follicular unit extraction (FUE).
What is Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
FUE has tremendously evolved in the past decade. It started almost twenty years ago as a niche procedure offered to only a few candidates. Back in the early 2000s, surgeons could barely extract a few hundred grafts at a time. The skill, technique, and devices were nowhere near what is available today. Hair transplant surgeons utilize a small surgical punch ranging from 0.7 mm to 1mm in diameter to remove follicular units one-by-one in the donor zone. The punch creates micro-scars that are virtually undetectable, even with a short haircut.
The most significant advantage to FUE is the ability to wear your hair short after surgery. Those who enjoy wearing buzz cuts or having low-guard fades will require FUE to maintain those hairstyles. FUE is a minimally invasive technique that causes very little surgical trauma with minimal pain and discomfort. Patients who undergo FUE can resume their normal activities after fourteen days, which is a significant advantage in itself.
The most significant disadvantage with FUE is the necessity to use a large area to remove hair. Unlike FUSS, which can take hair from one concentrated area. FUE requires a large surface area to remove hair follicles. As a result, the hair taken from FUE can be more susceptible to the effects of DHT. Of course, you can mitigate this issue with the use of medication like Propecia.
Another disadvantage is that you cannot remove many grafts without compromising the integrity of the donor zone. FUE reduces the overall density of the donor zone. If you remove too much hair from the donor zone, you will end up with a patchy moth-eaten appearance. Some patients may be able to extract more grafts and some less. It all depends on the density of the donor.
Both FUSS and FUE have advantages and disadvantages. For some, they will be better candidates for FUE, and for others, they will be better candidates for strip surgery. It all boils down to you as a person and your goals. To find out which technique will be best suited for you or to find out how many grafts you need to restore your hair, click HERE to speak with patient-approved surgeons who consistently perform quality work.