Strip Harvesting in Hair Transplant Surgery

Strip harvesting is a method of extracting donor hair from the scalp. The surgeon uses a scalpel or double-bladed scalpel to make an incision about half an inch wide across the back of the scalp. This strip of scalp is then removed, hairs and all. After the strip is removed, the elastic skin of the scalp is then brought together and sutured closed. Once the scalp is sutured, the strip is kept moist while the surgeon and his/her assistants remove its follicular units, groups of two or three self-sufficient hairs, to be inserted into the tiny incisions along the scalp.

This process should not be confused with previous techniques involving strip-grafting; this was an outdated method in which the entire strip of hair would be relocated onto the top of the scalp to form rows of hair which often gave the hair an unnatural, patchy, corn-row appearance. Modern techniques, however, remove small follicular units from the strip, in some cases even single hairs, with high-precision microscopes, to be placed into tiny incisions wherever necessary. A strip of hair is to be taken out, but the entire strip should not be grafted back onto your hair. Make sure your doctor discusses this procedure and do not go with any surgeon who wants to place entire strips onto your scalp.

Will I have a Scar after Strip Harvesting?

After the surgery, it will take a few weeks for the sutured section of your head to heal completely. If done well, your hair should grow over the top of the scar which is left when the sutures are removed; however, in some cases a scar may appear across the back of the scalp. This typically occurs if there is a large contrast between your hair colour and your scalp, i.e. black hair and pale skin, if your hair is too thin to cover the scalp, or if the suturing is done improperly. Ask for photographs of previous customers, both satisfied and dissatisfied, to determine if your surgeon’s skills will be appropriate for your needs and discuss your hair’s particular quality with the surgeon to determine if scarring is a possibility.

To avoid the possibility of scarring due to strip harvesting, surgeons can now remove individual follicular units from the scalp without removing a donor strip at all in a process called Follicular Unit Extraction. While this makes the grafts less likely to scar, FUE is a very time-intensive process as the surgeon him/herself must remove every graft using a microscope whereas if the surgeon removes a strip of hair then assistants can then extract the grafts individually from the strip. FUE is therefore more expensive and not always suitable if you need large numbers of grafts.

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