Hair Transplant Terminology Cheat Sheet

To help you prepare for your upcoming hair transplant consultation, here is a cheat sheet of hair transplant options and techniques your hair transplant surgeon might suggest.

Follicular unit. Scalp hair grows in groups, with up to 4 hairs per group1. These groups are referred to as follicular units. These follicular units contain more than just hair follicles but also contain nerves, blood vessels, collagen and muscle (erector pilorum)1. Since these follicular units contain all the required material for survival and growth a fully intact transplanted follicular unit should flourish after being implanted.

Strip. Strip is a harvesting method that will likely be one of the first hair transplant options brought up by your surgeon. Strip is a term used to describe the removal of hair bearing skin from the back of the scalp. Follicular units are then removed from this strip through the use of a microscope and then implanted into the desired areas2. You should be aware that a linear scar will be created if this method is used.

FUE. FUE stands for follicular unit extraction. It’s a term that describes a harvesting technique that removes hair follicles directly from the scalp3. FUE can be used to transplant hair follicles into thinning areas as well as camouflage previous hair transplant scars4,5.

The untouched strip. The untouched strip technique, a combination of strip and FUE, could be another option suggested by your surgeon6. This technique is quite an attractive option as you don’t need your hair to be shaven to 1 mm in length to undergo this type of hair transplant. The strip part of this technique is very similar to the normal strip harvesting however FUE is additionally used above and below the strip border6. This can allow for better coverage and greater density6.

Non-shaven FUE. The non-shaven follicular unit extraction technique (NSFUE) may not be offered at all hair transplant clinics. In this technique the donor hair is cut short and hair follicles removed7. Hair follicles are then implanted in a similar fashion as the traditional FUE method.

SMP. Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is not a hair transplant technique but it may come up as an option for those who may not meet hair transplant criteria. It’s a tattoo technique that can give the impression of hair8,9. SMP can help with camouflaging scarring and thinning areas8,9.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

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  7. Park J. Direct Non-shaven FUE Technique. Hair Transpl Forum Int. 2014;24(May/Jun):103–4.
  8. Rassman WR, Pak JP, Kim J, Estrin NF. Scalp micropigmentation: a concealer for hair and scalp deformities. J Clin Aesthetic Dermatol. 2015 Mar;8(3):35–42.
  9. Rose PT. Hair restoration surgery: challenges and solutions. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:361–70.