Hair Plugs vs. Hair Transplants: What Are The Differences?

Most people are surprised to learn that a hair plug is just another type of hair transplant that uses different techniques and has different results.

In the hair replacement industry, the terms hair plug and hair transplant can be used interchangeably, but these days, ‘hair transplant’ is undoubtedly the more acceptable way to refer to a surgical hair restoration procedure.


Difference Between Hair Plug and Hair Transplant Technology

Conceptually speaking, both plugs and transplants are the same procedure: the extraction and transfer of hair from one part of the body to another. Hair is removed from the “donor site” and implanted in the “recipient site.” That’s where the similarities end.

Traditional hair plug technology is now considered to be invasive and obsolete. The original procedures used the equivalent of a surgical “hole punching” tool to remove patches of tissue that contained about 20 hairs each.

Once implanted in the recipient site, the hair often grew in bunched sections that were spaced apart unnaturally, a bit like the hair on a doll.

Large portions of hair were removed from the donor site, leaving unsightly open patches and scarring. Healing times also took longer, and the procedure was often painful. Because this method is shunned by hair transplant surgeons today, and due to the negative association with the words, the term “hair plug” is avoided.


Today’s Less Invasive Hair Transplant Techniques

Hair Transplantation

These days, surgeons have developed new hair transplantation techniques that are less invasive and more refined than the old-fashioned hair plug. Results look more natural because the spacing of the implants is more orderly.

Also because hair is positioned to grow in the proper direction, new hair growth is more likely to blend seamlessly, and styling is easier. In ideal cases, even hairstylists can’t tell the difference once the full cycle of treatment is complete and new hair growth has occurred.


Two Types of Modern Hair Transplant Technology

There are two kinds of hair transplants performed these days, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).

Both use specialized cutting machinery with extremely fine blades that allow the surgeon to create minuscule recipient sites where hair follicles from the donor site can be inserted.

FUE is usually more expensive because the work is more intricate and time-consuming. In both cases, doctors apply local anesthesia and perform the procedures in their offices in a surgical setting.

Compared to their forefather, the hair plug, the healing of a hair transplant is less traumatic, and scars can usually be hidden under existing hair.


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Don’t Ask About Hair Plugs Anymore

If you hear a friend or acquaintance talking about hair plugs, not only are they giving away their age, but you can also be sure they’re not keeping up with today’s modern hair restoration advances.

The use of plug tools is a thing of the past. If the person speaking happens to be a hair restoration surgeon, run for the hills; that’s a red flag that they haven’t kept up with the new technologies and specialized tools and equipment.

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