FUE and FUT: The Truth Behind Hair Transplant Scars
Hair transplant surgeries have come a long way over the years in terms of equipment, knowledge and surgical skills. However, no matter how streamlined the procedures may be or how skilled your surgeon is, there’s always a concern in prospective patients as to whether their hair transplant will leave them with permanent scars.
There is a lot of misinformation and unqualified opinions that are commonly expressed and circulated about hair transplant scars. So to set the record straight, we’re stating the facts to help you get a better understanding of the reality of scarring.
Do hair transplants leave scars?
The short answer is yes. Like any other surgical procedure, a hair transplant will result in some scarring on the head. While this is always the case, the extent of the scars can differ greatly for each patient due to the extent of their transplant and the nature of the procedure.
Hair transplant procedures
Modern hair transplant surgeries have come a long way since the days of ‘hair plugs’. The development of more sophisticated tools and a better understanding of dermatology has resulted in procedures that yield far superior results.
These modern techniques may not have eliminated post-surgery scarring — something that is unlikely to ever be the case — but it has significantly reduced the severity of hair transplant scars.
The nature and appearance of these scars will depend on the type of hair transplant procedure being undertaken. There are two common surgeries that are used to perform a hair transplant: follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT).
An FUE hair transplant uses hair from the back and sides of the head — known as the donor area — and transplants them to balding areas on the head. The procedure involves a surgeon using an accurate micro-punch tool that individually extracts individual hair follicles one at a time.
Each follicle extracted will leave a small, puncture-sized scar up to 1 millimetre in diameter. Depending on the requirements for your surgery, this can add up to hundreds, or more, tiny dot-like scars.
The benefit of this type of procedure is that FUE scars may be numerous, but they are so small that they are barely noticeable. The only time they’ll likely become visible is if you shave your back and sides with a grade 0 (even then it’s unlikely).
FUT scarring differs from an FUE transplant due to the different methods of hair extraction. An FUT hair transplant involves surgically removing a strip of scalp from the donor area, usually on the back of the head. Once a donor strip has been removed, the area is then sutured together while the follicles from the strip are transplanted to balding areas on the head.
This method results in a narrow, linear scar where the strip was removed that will vary in size, depending on the amount of donor hair needed to be extracted. While still being discrete, an FUT scar is more noticeable than those from an FUE transplant — especially if you prefer very short hairstyles like a grade 0.
The good news is that you won’t need to grow your hair particularly long to cover the scar. Hair as long as 4mm is usually all that is required to completely mask FUT scars.
How to hide hair transplant scars
As previously stated, FUE scars are almost impossible to detect, meaning there will seldom be a need to hide them. For those who’ve undergone an FUT hair transplant, however, some patients may look for ways to mask their scar — especially if a large donor area was taken or they prefer to sport a shorter hairstyle.
Interestingly, sometimes a solution to the scarring of FUT hair transplants is an FUE transplant. Individual hair follicles from your donor area can be used to hide a linear FUT scar, as a surgeon can carefully transplant them into the scar tissue to reconnect them with blood vessels to stimulate growth.
It’s important to note that grafting to scar tissue is far more difficult than the scalp and results can vary greatly from patient to patient. Speak to your surgeon about your options, as they can assess the likelihood of an FUE transplant providing successful results.
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP)
Also known as scalp hair tattooing or a medical hairline tattoo, scalp micropigmentation is a permanent procedure that gives the impression of thicker hair by injecting pigmentation into the scalp — much in the same way as a regular tattoo.
This is a popular method of concealing hair transplant scars or is sometimes used instead of transplant altogether. The pigmentation colour will be chosen to match your natural hair colour and will usually take several sessions to complete.
Laser treatments are often used to treat scarring, as it helps remove damaged skin on the surface and helps to stimulate collagen production. This will rejuvenate the elasticity of the skin as well as improve the overall appearance of the scar.
Laser treatments have not been developed with hair transplant scars in mind, meaning results can vary and nothing is guaranteed. Speak with your surgeon first, as they can best advise you on what treatments will work best for your situation.
Are hair transplant scars permanent?
Like any surgical procedure, hair transplants result in permanent scarring. Thankfully, FUE scars are almost unnoticeable and there are a number of ways to make FUT scarring very discrete.
Can hair transplant scars be removed?
Scar tissue can’t be removed, but there are ways to make them less noticeable; including micropigmentation, laser treatments or simply growing out your hair.
Can hair transplants be done on scar tissue?
FUE hair transplants can be performed on scar tissue. They are more difficult than a standard procedure, however, which may lead to less successful results. Speak to your doctor first, who can advise you on whether you’re suitable for a transplant.
How long does a hair transplant scar take to heal?
Hair transplant scars heal as part of the recovery process of your procedure. Typically it will take up to two weeks to recover and heal from a hair transplant, however, each patient is different and may take longer for some than others.
What does a hair transplant scar look like?
A hair transplant scar will look different depending on your procedure. An FUE hair transplant results in many tiny, circular scars that are often too small to see. FUT hair transplants will, instead, result in a singular linear scar, usually on the back of the head.