Hair transplant procedures have advanced significantly in the past ten years. For men, the primary option prior to Follicular Unit Excision was FUT/Strip (follicular unit transplantation). This method is a surgical technique that carries the potential of a noticeable linear scar from the donor harvest. Today, the FUE procedure is less invasive, and provides better results.
Throughout our website we have provided resources that explain the difference between FUE and FUT/Strip, and why advanced robotic follicular unit excision (FUE) and transplants provide better results. But did you know that the FUE procedure can also help patients who have had a prior Strip transplant? In this article we’ll explain why past FUT patients who are unhappy with their scar should pursue an FUE consultation.
Why Noticeable Scars Are a Problem
Hair loss as an aesthetic issue for men (and women) is deeply sensitive; we all care about how we look, and thin hair can make people feel less attractive and confident about their appearance.
Undergoing a successful hair transplant with FUT/Strip, but having a tell-tale linear scar, is something that some men have had to contend with. While having had a hair transplant is nothing to be embarrassed about whatsoever, it’s understandable that you don’t want unsightly evidence of the treatment, and it would be nice not to have a lifelong reminder of the procedure. You shouldn’t have to wear a sign that says “I had a transplant” for the rest of your life.
How Large and Permanent Are FUT/Strip Scars?
With FUT/Strip (follicular unit transplantation), a surgical removal of a section of the scalp (ouch, right?) is required. The physician determines a suitable area in the safe donor zone at the back lower base of the scalp to remove a section with the follicles intact.
The scalp is then sutured closed and the technicians manually extract each independent follicle from the removed strip of scalp. Hair transplants using the FUT/Strip method are certainly still available and quite common, though the popularity of FUE is quickly overtaking FUT/Strip as the benefits of FUE are realized by the public and doctors.
Scarring is influenced by more than one factor and is often unpredictable. Genetics, skin type, scalp tension, and type of closure can all play a role. The best closure by a talented surgeon can still result in a wide scar that is difficult to hide.
The scar may lighten somewhat over time but still remain visually noticeable decades afterward. If the donor site does not heal well, or if the transplant patient experiences a secondary infection or swelling, the scar can be discolored and sometimes raised to the extent where it can actually be felt beneath the hair.
Why Won’t Hair Grow on FUT Scar Tissue?
You probably know someone who has a childhood injury, where there is a visible scar on their scalp. Even though the injury may have occurred ten or twenty years ago, that scar persists. And hair usually struggles to regrow in scarred tissue areas.
The scalp is composed of layers of dermis (skin). When an injury occurs that is mild, over time a light scar may fade as old layers are shed and new skin layers are formed. The extent of the scarring (or how long it persists) depends on the individual and their skin type and physiology. Some individuals are very prone to the development of keloids, which is a build up of scar tissue that raises the wound area with extra volume. Instead of a flat scar, some FUT patients experience a bump or a ridge after the procedure. Regardless of the type of scar, hair growth in the scarred area is challenging at best.
Successful Scar Revision Treatments with Robotic FUE
A strip harvest hair transplant scar (FUT) can sometimes be treated with robotic FUE hair restoration procedures. What that means is that patients who had a prior FUT hair procedure can help reduce (and even remove) the visible evidence of their previous transplant. If your scar is at least 2 years old, we will first approach the question of whether the tissue will support new follicles by placing several “test grafts” along the scar. If these survive, then we can proceed with transplantation of follicles into your scar to conceal it. This procedure can easily be combined with transplantation of other areas on your scalp.
Follicular Unit Excision with ARTAS® from Restoration Robotics, uses artificial intelligence and accurate algorithms to identify healthy donor hair. After the healthiest follicles are harvested, they are then precisely transplanted in the area of the FUT scar.
Some patients who may have a lighter than normal pigmentation on the scar area may pursue scalp micropigmentation (SMP) of the area after hair growth is restored to further remove the visible signs of their FUT procedure.
As we discussed earlier, the rate of healing and nature of the scar varies from one patient to the next. You can start with a free consultation at Natural Restorations Hair Center to evaluate the area for a clinical recommendation. Schedule your consultation with our team today, and explore some of the resources available to our patients, to finance hair restoration treatments.