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DHI vs. FUE – an in-depth comparison of both hair transplant methods

TL;DR

▶ DHI is a modified version of the FUE surgery.

▶ Instead of implanting the hair after making an incision with a knife, like in an FUE surgery; an implanter pen is used in DHI surgeries to implant hair without having to cut incisions beforehand.

▶ The DHI technique gives more control to the surgeon over graft placement, angle, and depth; which contributes to more natural results.

▶ Plus, DHI provides less bleeding, less swelling, and faster recovery post hair transplant surgery.

Naturally, you want the best results out of your hair transplant surgery.

And at this point, you’re past the point where you compared the risk of linear scars in FUT, vs FUE.

As you compare DHI to FUE, two almost identical hair transplant techniques, you’ll see that even the smallest changes in the angle of implantation can drastically affect the results you’re going to get.

So in this blog, I’ll make an in-depth comparison of DHI and FUE, and I’ll make sure you’ll be equipped with enough knowledge to make the decision by the end of this:

Starting with the older method:

What Is FUE?

First performed by Japanese Dermatologist Dr. Masubi Inaba in 1988 and by Dr. Ray Woods in 1989, FUE was a somewhat revolutionary hair transplantation method that could fix many problems with hair plugs and FUT.

FUE was widely introduced to the world of hair restoration by Dr. William Rassman and Dr. Robert Bernstein in 2002, where they also coined its name.

In FUE hair transplant surgeries, the procedure consists of five exact steps:

1️⃣ The surgeon uses a punch tool to make a millimetric incision around a hair follicle on the donor site.

2️⃣ The surgeon uses forceps to remove the hair follicle.

3️⃣ The hair graft is harvested and stored in a proper liquid until the implantation phase.

4️⃣ Once the required amount of grafts is harvested, the surgeon uses a sharp knife to make millimetric incisions around the recipient/bald areas.

5️⃣ The hair grafts are carefully implanted into these incisions and the surgeon repeats the process from step four until the hairline is restored.

Using FUE, thousands of hair follicles can be harvested and implanted in 6-8 hours with minimal scarring. At the moment, FUE is the most popular hair transplant technique in the world.

What Is DHI?

DHI is a modified version of FUE that introduces the DHI Implanter Pen, introduced by The DHI Medical Group in 1999.

The implanter pen replaces forceps and knives during the implanting phase of the hair transplant surgery, turning both opening an incision and implanting the hair graft into a one-step action that’s much easier for the surgeon.

So, the five-step process of FUE is now reduced to four steps:

1️⃣ The surgeon uses a punch tool to make a millimetric incision around a hair follicle on the donor site.

2️⃣ The surgeon uses forceps to remove the hair follicle.

3️⃣ The hair graft is harvested and stored in a proper liquid until the implantation phase.

4️⃣ Once the required amount of grafts is harvested, the surgeon uses the DHI implanter pen to individually implant hair grafts into the recipient area.

Although it isn’t as widely used as FUT and FUE; DHI is highly popular among hair clinics worldwide, too.

Similarities Between FUE and DHI

Before comparing the exact differences between the two techniques, you should understand what’s common and how both techniques proceed.

So, we’ll quickly go over the whole process of DHI and FUE hair transplant surgeries and point out the similarities and the differences:

Pre-Surgery

Examination and pre-surgery steps are identical in both techniques.

You get in contact with your desired clinic/surgeon, go through an initial examination/consultation, and set a date for the surgery. Your physician provides you with the necessary information about everything you should and shouldn’t do before the surgery.

Once the day comes, another examination, this time in more detail, is done. Your hair is trimmed, your new hairline is drawn, and you are informed about the next steps of the surgical procedure as well as what you should do and don’t do following the surgery.

Local anesthesia is applied to your scalp and you take your place on the operation table.

Harvesting

The harvesting phase, too, is identical for both techniques.

The surgeon uses a punch tool to make millimetric incisions on donor grafts, then moves these grafts to a proper liquid or bio-enhanced liquid depending on your clinic. At this point, grafts wait until the surgeon has the necessary amount of grafts.

Dr. Utkan harvesting hair grafts from the donor site.

Post-Surgery Care

Another identical part is the post-surgery care following a hair transplant operation.

For both techniques, you are expected to follow a number of guidelines and avoid certain activities, which you can find in detail in our blog about hair transplant care after surgery.

Success Rates and Results

There aren’t any differences between the success rate of FUE and DHI techniques on paper, due to a lack of research on this topic.

And the results along with the time it takes for patients to achieve similar results take similar periods of time.

So, for now, it’s safe to say DHI and FUE are even in the numbers.

Differences Between FUE and DHI

Yes, the actual difference between FUE and DHI might seem like just the tool used to implant the grafts.

But this change affects various aspects of your hair transplantation journey including pricing, recovery, and results.

Let’s take a look at the exact differences between FUE and DHI:

Tools

I’ve already mentioned this.

FUE uses small scalpel knives to make micro-incisions on the recipient area and forceps to hold and implant hair grafts into these incisions.

Forceps used during hair transplant surgeries.
Scalpels used during hair transplant surgeries.

On the other hand, DHI uses the DHI implanter pen, which acts both as a knife to make incisions and forceps to implant the hair, but simultaneously.

The DHI Implanter Pen

This change in the tools used during the surgery does more than just reduce the procedure by one step.

Hair Implantation Method

The first and the biggest change undoubtedly is the implantation technique the surgeon practices.

In an FUE surgery, holding and operating a forceps is actually highly tiring, and as we get more tired towards the end of the surgery we can barely direct our focus on the implantation motion.

In a DHI surgery, however, operating the implanter pen is extremely easy. Plus, since making the incision and implanting the hair is just one motion, the surgeon has much more control over the implantation motion compared to regular FUE.

Using the implanter pen, the surgeon can actually focus more on the angle of implantation, the depth, and the graft placement. We can ensure our work is the best possible, and this directly affects the results:

Recovery and Results

As I’ve just mentioned, results from a DHI surgery aren’t scientifically proven to be better than those of FUE surgeries.

But, with the implanter pen and the DHI technique, we have much more control over the implantation phase. This control allows us to do our best work and focus on creating more natural results.

And as the majority of expert transplant surgeons and I, myself can agree, the end results of a DHI surgery look much more natural as we catch the perfect depth and angle.

Plus, since the incisions are now much smaller and are done in a quick single motion, the trauma caused to the skin during the implantation phase is significantly reduced. Most hair clinics argue that the reduced trauma causes faster recovery, less bleeding, less swelling, and milder side effects overall.

And unfortunately, these improvements don’t come free:

Cost

Since DHI provides better results and more advanced equipment is used, the price range of a DHI surgery is higher than an FUE surgery.

And based on the numbers we’ve compiled on our hair transplant costs page, DHI surgeries on average cost 30% more than FUE surgeries.

So, What Should You Choose?

DHI certainly has its own advantages but the increased price range can be a deal-breaker for most. Or, the clinic that is suitable for you might not offer DHI surgeries at all.

At the end of the day, the final decision is made by you, and since we’ve gone through every detail in this blog, it should be an easier decision.

Or, we can go over your situation and decide on what you should get together, we’re just a click away: 👇

FUE and DHI Surgeries with a Dermatologist:

UnitedCare and its expert dermatologist doctors provide you with a holistic approach to hair transplant surgeries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is DHI better than FUE?

Although there isn’t currently any research or study proving or suggesting that DHI produces better success rates or results, numerous experts in the hair restoration industry lean towards DHI and claim that the results are much more natural and recovery is much easier when an implanter pen is used.


Which hair transplant method is the best?

In 2022, the majority of the hair restoration clinics lean towards three advanced variations of FUE surgeries to be the best method: Sapphire FUE, Direct Hair Implantation, and ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant surgeries.


Is DHI more expensive than FUE?

Yes, based on our research, DHI surgeries are on average 30% more expensive than traditional FUE surgeries.

Utkan Kızıltaç, MD

Chief Physician and Dermatologist Hair Transplant Surgeon of UnitedCare, a dermatology clinic helping patients become the best version of themselves.

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