This analogy on the subject of FUE really hit home:
…Your donor is like a grid of marbles. FUT is basically a line through the middle (strip) which is closed up leaving the grid uniform and balanced but when using FUE, you are removing marbles at random from all over. It is much harder to keep the grid “balanced” with FUE…
So Doctor…..when a patient elects the FUE procedure to restore their hair, is there considerably less total donor hair available?
I have heard only half as much as with FUT. Say it ain’t so!
“It ain’t so!”
I suppose your donor area can look patchy with little white dot scars if you have 3000+ FUE grafts extracted. This occurs when your original density was average or less than average. People with high density hair often will not show the white scars (dots) at all. Even with 1000 FUE grafts, you will notice these patchy white dot scars if you shaved your scalp, but in general, even with 3000+ FUE grafts, the scars and the less hair volume will be hard to notice (depending how close you cut your hair).
Remember — not all FUE or FUT (strip surgery) is the same, and not all patients are the same with healing. I have seen awful FUE scars and great FUT scars and vice-versa. Each and every patient needs to talk with their doctor and understand the unique advantages and disadvantages along with the risks and benefits of the surgery. This may sound like generic advice, but many patients who seek out FUE choose to go ahead with a FUT procedure after understanding the limitations of FUE and FUT.
With regard to your main question about which procedure will get you more hair (strip vs FUE), I think that the answer is probably strip surgery. Many doctors now doing FUE surgery actually get the hair outside of the fringe area, which means that the hair is not permanent. Some doctors (who think about $$$ above all else) will push the FUE harvest area to meet the projections given. The donor area has about 20,000 hairs in it and if an FUE procedure harvested 1/3rd of the available supply (assuming average density of the hair in a Caucasian male), that would be about 6,500 hairs or 3,200 grafts on average. All of the higher number we are reading about reflects, most probably, non-donor (non-permanent) hair.