WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE “STRIP” HAIR TRANSPLANT PROCEDURE?
The strip method of hair transplantation involves extracting hairs as a patch from the back of your head, leaving a linear scar that can be unsightly. The alternative is to use FUE, a method that extracts hair follicles individually and transplants them in a seamless, natural-looking manner. Because the strip method has been around longer and is less costly, some patients may assume it is the preferred method of hair transplantation, but this is not true. The strip method comes with many drawbacks that will be discussed in more depth below.
How is the strip method performed?
During the strip method, also called FUT, a scalpel is used to remove a portion of the scalp tissue that is rife with viable hair follicles, typically from the back or sides of the head. While the goal is to excise a strip that is narrow enough to minimize scarring, the sample must also have enough hair follicles intact to make the transfer worthwhile. For this reason, surgeons often end up leaving a scar behind that is much bigger and wider than expected. Hairs are then planted in recipient sites using tiny incisions. Afterward, sutures are used to close the wounds.
What are the risks involved with the strip method?
While the skill and artistry of your hair transplant surgeon will play a role in the outcome of your procedure, some complication risks are simply inherent in the FUT hair transplant method. Below are the most common potential risks for the strip method:
- Excessive bleeding – The strip method can be considered an invasive surgery and may lead to excessive bleeding in some clients. If too much blood is lost, the patient may experience a dangerous drop in their oxygen levels or blood pressure.
- Nerve damage – The incisions created with a scalpel during FUT hair transplantation can damage the nerves in the donor area of the scalp. This can result in tingling, numbness, or chronic pain.
- Infection – FUT surgery involves sizable wounds that are closed with sutures, putting the patient at a higher risk of infection than with FUE.
- Tissue necrosis – Necrosis, or tissue death, may occur when the oxygen and blood supply in the donor area is insufficient.
- Shock hair loss – Because the strip method uses an invasive incision, hairs surrounding the donor site may fall out or thin from shock. This typically lasts several months, but in some cases, it can be permanent.
- Scalp tightness – After removing the donor strip from the back of the head, the surface area of the skin is diminished, potentially causing a feeling of tightness in the scalp that is exacerbated by moving the head down or sideways.
- Poor scarring – Most clients are told that their scar will be small and inconspicuous, but many experience a scarring outcome that is unsightly. This requires the patient to have a longer hairstyle to cover the incisions and can cause self-consciousness and frustration.
- Poor hair growth results – When the transplanted hairs are grafted to the recipient area, they may not survive, resulting in little to no hair regeneration. This means the client might have to undergo additional strip surgeries, worsening their scars and further reducing the skin’s surface area on the scalp.
What is the takeaway?
Cosmetic technology is always advancing, putting older, outdated procedure methods into retirement. This is the case with FUT, the strip method of hair transplantation. Newer, more cutting-edge hair restoration techniques have taken its place, including FUE with NeoGraft and ARTAS. There is no longer a need to put the patient at risk of shock hair loss, poor scarring, and tissue death when the treatment can be accomplished less invasively with more natural-looking results. At The Center for Hair Restoration in Pittsburgh, we are excited to speak with you about combating hair loss using a world-class approach that is painless and scar-free.