From hair thinning due to age to alopecia, there are many reasons why hair restoration is one of the fastest-growing hair care specialties. If you’re interested in hair restoration, you have two popular options available to you: Hair plugs or a hair transplant.
While these procedures are fairly similar, there are quite a few differences. These two options also have different benefits and drawbacks. Be sure to look at this comprehensive guide that covers the basics of hair plugs vs. hair transplants.
What Are Hair Plugs?
Hair plugs are a type of hair transplant that has evolved over the years. This procedure involves removing small round patches of tissue around the scalp in areas where the hair grows normally. Basically, the surgeon is moving your hair around to where you want it.
These tissue patches contain strands of hair that will eventually get moved to the scalp areas where the hair is scarce. Then, the tissue gets stitched up, leaving the client with the appearance of hair where there wasn’t any.
This procedure has gone out of style over the years due to better and less invasive replacements.
What Is a Hair Transplant?
Currently, hair transplants involve either Follicular Unit Transplantation or Follicular Unit Extraction. These modernized processes have made outdated hair plugs obsolete, for the most part.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
FUT is also known as strip harvesting and has evolved old hair plugs. Like hair plugs, FUT involves taking sections of the scalp and placing them on the scalp’s desired sections where the hair is scarce.
So, how does this differ from outdated hair plugs? FUT uses microscopical incisions and updated technology to make incisions and tissue placements.
This updated method leads to a more natural head of hair and less procedural pain. This new process also takes much bigger sections of tissues for added realism.
While it’s much better than the old version of hair plugs, this process does have short-term painful recovery and scarring. Keep that in mind when weighing your transplant options. If you’re uncomfortable with this prospect, the next procedure might work better for you.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FOE is the best and most minimally invasive hair transplant process. This procedure involves removing individual hairs on the head instead of harvesting sections of tissue on the scalp. Modern technology allows thousands of individual hairs to get removed all at once.
Once the hair follicles get removed from one area, they’re transplanted to another area with small incisions. Some services offer this procedure with state-of-the-art robotic surgical equipment. For example, the Barber Surgeons Guild offers an advanced hair restoration treatment that uses robotic FUE.
This is a preferable process for several reasons, but the most important aspect is the painlessness. Plus, FUE transplants leave no scar and have fewer side effects. While the entire process is longer than the others, the popularity is justified.
Hair Plugs vs. Hair Transplant: How Do They Differ?
Hair plugs are part of an outdated hair transplant procedure that surgeons typically don’t recommend anymore. Since technology has transformed the hair transplant process into a less archaic procedure, modern hair transplants have overtaken hair plugs.
There’s no denying that outdated hair plugs don’t look aesthetically pleasing. Plugs are essentially bundles of hair, so these bundles don’t resemble natural hair growth.
Modern hair transplants are more natural and reminiscent of real hair growth. This is because the follicles get distributed evenly.
Modern hair transplants are also less invasive and less painful. Since outdated hair plugs involve stitches and removing tissue, the recovery time tends to feel drawn out.
Hair Transplant Cost
Hair transplants differ wildly depending on the client’s needs and expectations. The average price range is about $3,000 – $15,000.
For clients who don’t have a lot of hair loss and just want added volume in certain scalp areas, the price is typically lower. For clients who have significant hair loss, the cost is usually higher. Some clinics offer all-inclusive treatments with added benefits that help your recovery and overall results.
If both options are out of your price range or you’re still unsure, you may want to consider lower-cost maintenance options—these range from scalp camouflaging techniques, follicle and scalp stimulation and more. You should also consider hair regeneration shampoos or other natural options if you’re still exploring your options.
Hair Transplant Timeline
If your heart is set on either a FUE or FUT hair transplant, you’ll most likely have to book a consultation with a hair clinic that offers these services. Consultations involve a discussion about your wants and needs, as well as what type of transplant is best for you.
Once your actual transplant gets booked, your clinic may tell you to do certain preventative tasks before your appointment. Make sure you get a good night’s rest before your procedure. Plus, avoid certain medications, alcohol, or anything that may impede your healing process.
Regardless of which procedure you choose, you may have part of your scalp shaved to prepared for the transplant. This is not always required.
Depending on which procedure you go with, your recovery time might be a day or a few weeks. You won’t notice a full head of hair right away, so stay patient and trust the recovery process.
If you choose a FUT procedure, you’ll receive some pain medication to help you cope with the recovery process. Don’t feel alarmed by scalp sensitivity or redness; these side effects will go away in a few weeks.
If you notice any side effects that last longer than four weeks, contact your clinic for a follow-up consultation.
Getting the Hair of Your Dreams
Getting a new head of hair is a process that requires a lot of research, but it’s well worth your time and investment. Whether you choose a hair transplant or hair plugs, your choice will greatly impact how you feel about yourself.
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Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.