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FUT vs FUE Hair Transplants: Which is Better?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Sian Ferguson

Published 07/05/2021

Updated 04/25/2024

If you’re looking for an effective, quick way to cover some significant balding, a hair transplant may be your best bet. Nowadays, there are two main types of hair transplant surgery: follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT). Both are effective — but is FUE or FUT better? Let’s look at the pros and cons of FUE vs FUT.   

When done correctly, hair transplant surgery can be a worthwhile investment for those who want a head full of healthy-looking hair. But when considering a hair transplant, you’ll need to think about which hair transplant method you prefer. 

Both FUE and FUT techniques can produce natural-looking results, but they differ significantly in cost, recovery time and scarring.

Let’s explore the differences between a FUT hair transplant and a FUE hair transplant, who qualifies for these surgeries (and who doesn’t), the FUT vs FUE cost and everything else you need to know.

FUT and FUE hair transplants treat androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss. They can also be used to help women who have female pattern hair loss.

Even though they treat the same condition, the two hair transplant techniques differ.  

For FUT procedures, healthcare professionals remove a strip of hair from your head where others may not notice it’s missing. This healthy “donor hair” is then placed over the thinning patch of hair. The main drawback of FUT is the linear scar it can leave on the scalp.

FUE is a newer type of hair transplant. During FUE procedures, healthcare professionals select singular hair follicles to transplant to another location on the scalp via “micropunches” that leave barely noticeable scars.

Although FUE transplants take longer, they are less invasive and produce minimal scarring. It also takes less time to recover. According to a 2022 census by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, FUE transplants are more common than FUT.   

But FUT hair transplants have their benefits. This procedure is faster and can cover a large area of your scalp, making it a good choice if you have a significant bald patch. 

It’s also worth noting that an FUE procedure can follow an FUT procedure but not vice versa. So, if you opt for an FUT transplant, you can get an FUE transplant at a later stage if necessary. 

But that’s just the basics — if you’re going to shell out for a hair transplant, you probably want to know more.

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Also called the “strip method,” FUT is a popular hair transplant technique.  

During an FUT procedure, a hair transplant surgeon will remove a strip of skin from a part of your scalp with healthy, functional hair follicles. The exact size of the strip depends on the number of follicles needed to cover bald spots but usually doesn’t exceed one to 1.5 centimeters (0.4 to 0.6 inches) wide. 

The surgeon then divides the strips into smaller groups of follicles and transplants these units into areas of your scalp with thinning hair. 

The grafts are generally large enough that complete hair restoration can often be achieved in just one or two sessions.

Now, let’s run through the entire FUT hair transplant procedure so you can better understand what’s involved from start to finish. 

Here’s the step-by-step process:

  • Step 1. The surgeon will re-draw your hairline, mark the area of hair extraction and take photographs for your medical record. You may have the option of taking a sedative before surgery, but your scalp will be numbed with local anesthesia either way.

  • Step 2. The hair at the donor site, where your hair is removed from, will be trimmed to about two millimeters. Picking the right donor site is important to get all the hair you need and avoid more visible scars.

  • Step 3. The surgeon will cut out the strip of skin with the hair follicles that will be used as a graft. You’ll stay awake during the extraction process. 

  • Step 4. A technician will remove individual hair follicles from the strip and prepare them for transplantation.

  • Step 5. The surgeon will close your scalp at the donor site with sutures.

  • Step 6. They'll then insert the hair follicles into your scalp's balding area in a natural pattern.

  • Step 7. An antibiotic and bandages will be applied to your scalp.

Most people see results from the surgery in six to nine months. However, some people have to wait up to a year to see results. 

It's important to note that the transplanted hair will fall out between two and eight weeks after the surgery. This may be alarming, but it’s perfectly normal — it’s a sign that your transplanted follicles are entering the hair growth cycle.  

By the third month, the hair may look thinner than before you had the transplant. Again, this is normal.

If you’re willing to be patient through these few months, you’ll be rewarded with more abundant and thicker hair. 

Now that we’ve covered FUT hair transplants let’s look at the FUE procedure. 

The FUE method is a newer type of hair transplant that transfers individual follicular units of hair from your skin to balding areas or areas with thinning hair. This replaces dead hair follicles with healthy follicles that can grow new hair.

This hair transplant method uses a lot of grafts but no incisions, so hair implantation to the recipient area is practically seamless. This also means FUE transplants won’t cause the same “hair plugs” look that may come with a FUT transplant.

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The complete FUE process is as follows:

  • Step 1. Your surgeon will begin the process by trimming the donor area on the back of your head to 1-2mm.

  • Step 2. You will lie facedown on the operating table, and local anesthetics will be applied to the donor area. You will be awake for the surgery.

  • Step 3. Once the local anesthetic kicks in, hair grafts will be removed via small micropunches.

  • Step 4. Your surgeon will make several small incisions using a needle or similarly sharp tool to create a space for the excised hair follicles to be transplanted.

  • Step 5. They’ll then insert the hair follicles into the new incisions.

  • Step 6. The surgery area will be cleaned and bandaged, and you’ll be ready for recovery.

Is FUT better than FUE? Or vice versa?

When weighing the FUE vs FUT pros and cons, it’s important to consider your unique situation. While one technique might work best for your buddy, you might opt for a different procedure because of your circumstances.

FUT might be a better choice if you: 

  • Want to cover a larger bald patch

  • Want a higher graft count in one session

  • Don’t mind having a visible linear scar until your hair grows to cover it  

  • Might have a second transplant at a later stage

  • Want to finish your transplant in one session, which will be about eight hours

  • Are on a tighter budget

FUE might be a better choice if you:

  • Want to avoid pain

  • Don’t want a visible linear scar

  • Don’t mind multiple shorter sessions, since FUE sessions can be broken up into about four two-hour appointments

  • Don’t want another hair transplant in the future

  • Prefer a shorter healing time

  • Want to avoid invasive surgery

  • Can afford a more costly surgery

As you can tell, both types of procedures have their benefits and drawbacks. If you’re struggling to decide, speaking with an expert might help. Some hair transplant clinics offer a free consultation for prospective patients.

Now, let’s get down to a question you may be nervous about: How much will your hair transplant cost? 

In most cases, FUE is more expensive than FUT. In fact, FUE can be two or three times the cost of FUT. 

Generally, you can expect to invest between $3,000 and $15,000 in hair transplant surgery. Some clinics charge per graft, while others charge per session. 

Yep, that’s a pretty high price — and a pretty wide range. The cost will depend on:

  • The surgeon you choose

  • Whether you opt for FUT or FUT

  • Where you have your surgery, or the local market of the city you’re in

  • The number of hair grafts you’ll need  

  • The complexity of your case

Typically, health insurance doesn’t cover hair transplant surgery, as it’s considered a cosmetic procedure. Of course, it won’t hurt to call your insurance to find out if your plan can cover some of the costs.     

As you can see, costs can be drastically different, and one thing for sure is that they’re never a drop in the bucket.  If a transplant is out of the question for you right now, consider more cost-effective hair loss treatment options. 

We offer a wide variety of FDA-approved prescription treatments like finasteride and over-the-counter options, like minoxidil foam and minoxidil solution

Hair restoration surgeries — both FUT and FUE —are generally very safe when performed by board-certified surgeons.  

The most common post-op effect is that your scalp may be tender for a few days. But pain medication and bandages are usually enough treatment post-FUE transplant. 

In all hair transplant surgeries, there’s a chance that some or all of the hair grafts won’t “take” or regrow, or hair may grow back in uneven patches. 

In either of these cases, healthcare professionals often recommend additional attempts.

Possible hair transplant surgery complications are often mild but include:

  • Bleeding on the scalp

  • Swelling caused by excess fluids (edema)

  • Inflammation of the hair follicles (folliculitis) of the transplanted hair

  • Numbness of the scalp

  • Epidermal cysts and ingrown hair 

There are also some rare adverse events that you should be aware of. One is “shock” loss, a rare complication where you shed hair at the donor or recipient site. The good news is that shock loss is generally temporary — most hairs you shed return after three to four months.

It’s also possible to experience an infection after hair transplant surgery. This affects less than one percent of patients. You can treat infections by exfoliating with warm compresses, twice-daily shampooing and antibiotics.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

If you are struggling with male pattern baldness, you may be considering FUT or FUE hair transplants. Both options are permanent and will leave you with a fuller head of hair — but there are some key differences between the two.  

  • FUE is the more popular choice. It’s less invasive and doesn’t leave visible scarring. It’s also less painful and has a shorter recovery time.

  • But FUT has its advantages. FUT hair transplants may be better for people with significant hair loss or who want a large area covered in only one session.

  • Pricing is also a huge factor. Hair transplants can be expensive. While the FUT vs FUE costs can vary, FUT tends to be cheaper.

If hair transplant surgery is out of your budget for now, you might want to try other hair loss treatments. 

Regardless of what you choose, it’s a good idea to start by talking with an expert. We can help you book an online appointment with a healthcare professional. They will be able to assess your hair loss, suggest treatment options and talk you through the pros and cons of FUE vs FUT.

15 Sources

  1. Zito, P. M., & Raggio, B. S. (2021, March 6). Hair Transplantation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/
  2. Bernstein, R. M. (2010). Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation 2010. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267451081_Follicular_Unit_Hair_Transplantation_2010
  3. A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural-looking results. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/transplant
  4. Lim, J. (2017, September 6). Hair Transplants Costs, Prices, Financing. Retrieved from https://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/hair-loss/financing
  5. PROPECIA. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/020788s024lbl.pdf
  6. Badri, et al. Minoxidil. updated 2021 apr 13. In: StatPearls internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  7. Men’s Hair Loss: Introduction. (n.d.). American Hair Loss Association. Retrieved from https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/introduction.html
  8. Alfonso, et al. (2005, November). The Psychosocial Impact of Hair Loss Among Men: a Multinational European Study. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16307704/
  9. A Hair Transplant Can Give You Permanent, Natural-Looking Results. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/treatment/transplant
  10. Dua, A., Dua, K. (2010, May-August). Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956961/
  11. Hair Transplant and Restoration: What Are the Risks of Hair Transplant Surgery? (n.d.). American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/hair-transplantation-and-restoration/safety
  12. Saxena, K.,Savant, S. (2017, May-June). Body to Scalp: Evolving Trends in Body Hair Transplantation.Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447335/
  13. Complications of Hair Transplantation (n.d.). Stanford Health Care. Retrieved from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/h/hair-replacement-surgery/complications.html
  14. Kerure, A., Patwardhan, N. (2018, October-December). Complications of Hair Transplantation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371733/
  15. Khanna, M. (2008, October). Hair Transplantation Surgery. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825128/
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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