Friday, May 11, 2007

FUE and strip hair transplants compared

I only recently discovered FUE (Folicular Unit Extraction), and this has been a revelation for me. FUE leaves no scars, and the recovery after surgery is a lot less painful than strip surgery. To me, this makes a huge difference.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not an unbiased comparison of the FUE and strip surgery methods, as I'm now strongly biased towards FUE because of previous bad experiences with strip surgery. Still, I hope to shed light on some important issues pertaining to FUE and strip surgery.

It's easy to think that the strip scar is no problem, that it is easily hidden underneath the hair, and thus does not cause worries. This has not been the case for me.

I have had several issues with the strip scar which are worth considering. To me they are more then ample reasoning to choose FUE surgery instead of strip:

  • The strip surgery made me loose much of the feeling in my neck. Even now, 6 years after my last strip surgery, I still have very reduced sensibility, like a constant numbness.

  • The strip scar made me very selfconcious. I no longer enjoyed small things like being tickled in the neck for fear of having my scar discovered. And forget about going to the hairdressers. It's difficult putting a price on these small things, but to me, this has been a real pain, as I end up driving people away for fear of being "found out".

  • The strip scar steals a lot of energy. The scar always has my attention. Is it visible? Will someone notice? Should I comb my hair again? This is the real killer for me, as it kills my spontaneousness. I hate going swimming, for example, because it messes up my hair so the scar becomes visible.

  • I can't wear my hair short anymore. I'd love the ability to just shave my head, or at least being able to wear it short. With little hair on top, it looks strange to wear it longer in the neck to cover the scar.

  • The strip surgery forces you to continue transplanting. In most cases, you continue loosing hair. With the strip scar to cover up, you have lost the option to just shave your head. Also, to cover the scar, you usually need longer hair, making the need for more hair on top more pressing. I feel FUE leaves you with more choice in this respect.
I quoted a person suffering from a bad hair transplant in another blogpost:
"I have really lost a good five or more years of my life worrying about hair, when I should have been worrying about living. It is such a monumental waste of anyone’s life"
This quote describes how I feel about my strip surgery scar. I realize that not all patients will have the kind of worries I have described, but I still think it's important to take them into account when choosing between FUE or strip surgery.

Largely because of the reasons above, I decided to have a FUE hair transplant in an attempt to cover up my strip scar. Earlier this week I had FUE surgery at Dr. Mohammad Mazhar Hussains' clinic in Pakistan (see - mainly to cover up my strip scars. Now I'm patiently awaiting the results. Graft growth is usually poorer in scar tissue, but I'm hoping enough hair will take root to cover my scar.

New Hair Clinic (which performed my strip surgery) adviced me to get "hair simulation" in the scar in the form of permanent makeup which is tattooed on the scar. I tried this, but the result is plain ridiculous, and doesn't look natural.

Dr. Mohammad Mazhar Hussain has a table comparing FUE and strip surgery hair transplantation on his website. This was how I first gained interrest in the FUE method.

I only wish I'd waited with my own transplants until FUE surgery was available.

Update: It's now been two weeks since my own FUE operation. I can assert that the recovery is really as quick as promised, and it's a big relief not having to shy away from work for months on end. I have my first day at work tomorrow, but I'm not worried at all. I'll try to put up some pictures later on in a separate post.


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