Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplants

Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplants: Everything You Need to Know

Men have been in an ongoing battle against hair loss since we first walked upright. This conflict was futile for guys until technologies like hair plugs and hair transplants came along. In addition to laser treatments, medicated shampoos and scalp camouflage, these two procedures are part of an ever-growing arsenal focused on eliminating hair loss in men.

When looking at the variety of treatment options available, though, it becomes clear that some aren’t as effective as others. This is particularly true when it comes to hair transplants vs hair plugs. To be fair, though, comparing the two is like comparing Morse code to cell phones. Back when hair plugs were prominent, professionals were simply working with what they had.

If you opt for the wrong procedure, you can bet female interest in your underpants navy will dwindle to down to nil.

What are Hair Plugs?

If you were around in the ‘80s, you probably caught the sight of a guy sporting hair plugs. Technically speaking, plugs are a form of hair transplant. The only caveat is that the procedure has become rarer as the years have passed. In fact, most transplant surgeons view the practice as outdated and archaic.

To perform this transplant, a surgeon used a large punching tool that would remove rows of tissue in small round patches. These were harvested from the back of the head since growth on the back and sides is often unaffected by thinning hair. Even more modern transplant surgeries still utilize the same harvesting sites.

Each patch of tissue removed during the hair plug process contained around 20 strands. Surgeons would then create holes of a similar size in the transplant area where they would place the donor tissue. At that point, the transplants could either be stitched up or left to heal on their own (i.e. ‘bedding in’).

It’s important to note that those outside of the hair restoration community use the term hair plugs loosely. Even though they refer to a specific procedure that fell mostly out of use in the ‘90s, laymen often refer to any donor patch as a hair plug. This terminology is incorrect, and you need to understand this when researching ways to stop hair loss.

Plugs hold an integral place in the history of hair restoration. Then again, Conestoga wagons played a pretty big part in transportation history. That doesn’t mean we have to keep using them.

What is a Hair Transplant?

Modern hair transplant procedures are very different from the hair plugs that were used for decades. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) are the two most common forms of transplanting utilized today. For the most part, these procedures have entirely replaced hair plugs. This is unsurprising since you can pull off just about any hairstyle following a hair transplant.

When looking at these two methods, FUT – also known as strip harvesting – more closely resembles the hair plugs of old with respect to harvesting larger amounts of tissue at once. The procedures still differ significantly since FUT uses microscopic technology to divide hair follicles prior to transplantation. With hair plugs, entire patches were simply inserted into donor sites.

Instead of harvesting entire strips of tissue – which doesn’t sound that exciting – the FUE transplant procedure removes individual hair follicles. This is performed with a specialized coring apparatus. Follicles are then inserted into the recipient site via tiny incisions created by precision surgical equipment. Many surgeons even use the robotic technology known as ARTAS to make the process more precise.

Follicular Unit Transplantation has historically been the most popular form of hair transplant. This isn’t surprising since thousands of follicles can be removed at once. In 2017, though, the more labor-intensive Follicular Unit Extraction surpassed FUT in popularity. Although the process takes longer, the results are infinitely superior and have fewer lasting side effects.

If you’re interested in what hair transplants can do for you, check out BSG’s Clinical Grooming Services.

Hair Plugs vs Hair Transplants

The differences between hair plugs and modern hair transplants don’t stop at the underlying procedure. Of all the disparities, the most obvious is the appearance of the finished product. Since entire patches were transplanted during the plugging process, the hair grew in bunched together.

There was no blending of strands and the outcome appeared very unnatural. If you’ve never seen a hair plug patient, simply imagine the plastic scalp of a baby doll. Notice how several hairs grow out of one spot and there are obvious empty patches between them? That’s what you could expect in the ‘80s.

The fact that people saw before and after pictures of these types of results and still proceeded with the treatment is simply astounding. Of course, this was a time of neon colors, high-waist jeans, mullets and spandex. 

Modern hair transplant surgeries look far more natural. Since patches aren’t placed in the transplant sites whole, you have a more even distribution of hair follicles. Experienced surgeons also place donor follicles so that they lie in the same direction of the strands that didn’t end up in the shower drain. This means your transplanted hair will blend in perfectly.

Hair Transplant Myths

If you possess a modicum of reading comprehension, you’ve already pushed the idea of getting hair plugs completely out of your mind. Even if you haven’t, though, we don’t even know where you could get the procedure done anymore.

Once you’ve decided to get a hair transplant, it’s important to know there’s a lot of misinformation out there. These myths can create confusion and give you an inaccurate idea of what to expect. As long as you recognize that the following hair transplant myths are false, you’ll better understand your upcoming procedure.

  • Immediate full head of hair: While hair transplants can be performed in one day, the final results aren’t immediate. This is real hair, so it takes some time to grow in fully.
  • No girls allowed: Hair transplants aren’t just for men. Half of women will experience female pattern hair loss in their lives.
  • Procedure is obvious: Don’t let late-night infomercials showcasing bad hair plugs scare you. If done right, no one will even notice you had a transplant.
  • Hair plugs are permanent: If you got hair plugs in the past, you’re not saddled with them forever. With modern treatments, new hairs can be added between the old plugs to make them look more natural.
  • Stranger danger: Some individuals believe that transplanted hairs are taken from donors. In reality, your hair will remain yours.
  • Only hair transplants work: From scalp camouflage to laser treatment, there are several other hair restoration methods you can try before transplantation.
  • Hair restoration is painful:  While recovery from FUT – aka the strip procedure – is often quite painful, it’s quite unusual to experience pain after Robotic FUE.  In fact, the procedure itself only has a few moments of pain during the quick numbing injections.
  • Significant downtime:  With FUT you can expect pain during the recovery. With Robotic Hair Restoration, though, you will feel fine the next day. If you’re able to work from home, you could potentially have zero downtime.
  • Full head shaving is necessary:  While a full buzz cut is often the best idea when treating the full head, it is not a requirement. Focused area procedures are often done while keeping the hair longer in the recipient areas.

Some of these hair transplant myths are dying out, but a few remain pervasive. In a world where ‘fake news’ is tossed around recklessly, it can be hard to know who to trust. The simple answer: me. You can trust this guy.

You’re welcome.

Strip Harvesting vs FUE

Follicular Unit Transplantation is also widely known as ‘strip harvesting.’ This is because full strips are removed from the donor sites on the sides and back of your head. There’s no denying that this process is superior to antiquated hair plugs, but you’ll still encounter issues not experienced with the FUE procedure.

Maybe the most important thing to understand about FUT is that it leaves scarring. In this respect, it’s not much different than hair plugs. Since it’s an invasive process, surgeons must either staple or stitch your scalp back together. This can require up to four weeks of healing to fully recover from the process.

In addition to these drawbacks, you’ll also have to return to your surgeon to have the staples or stitches removed. You can expect discomfort during this process, and even after you’ve fully healed, you may still experience long-term pain or numbness – not to mention the permanent linear scar branded to the back of your head.

Follicular Unit Extraction procedures are focused on avoiding these downfalls. Since individual follicles are removed (manually or robotically), you won’t have to worry about scarring, extensive healing times or permanent discomfort. You’ll also only need about a week of recovery time, and since you’re not cut open, there’s no need to return for suture removal.

FUE’s micro-removal process is now seen as superior to strip harvesting. And thanks to ARTAS robotic hair restoration, the procedure is more precise than ever. You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to getting a fuller head of hair, but you’re unlikely to find one as effective and permanent as Follicular Unit Extraction.

Should I Get a Hair Transplant?

Time and results have shown that transplants are likely the most viable hair restoration option for most men. It’s important to note, though, that this procedure isn’t for everyone. There are tons of considerations to take into account before your donor site undergoes harvesting. 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t act immediately when fighting hair loss. The Week actually published an article on why bald men never went extinct – with one of the major points being that women find guys with hair more attractive. So, yeah… you should definitely do something about a thinning mane.

Your first consideration should be whether your hair loss is permanent. Many signs of balding can be reversed, and this is especially the case for environmental factors that cause temporary thinning. Even if your hair loss isn’t short-term, other restoration methods might be more appropriate for your unique situation.

Hair restoration shampoos and other targeted products have shown great promise in making guys’ hair look fuller. At some point, though, thinning reaches a level of ‘too far gone.’ When you’re at this point, you should speak with a hair restoration professional to learn if you’re a good candidate for an ARTAS transplant.

Added Benefits of BSG’s ARTAS Procedure

If you Google the term hair transplant doctor, you end up with nearly 29 million results. While there’s definitely not 29 million transplantation professionals in America, it just goes to show that there are plenty of options available to you. This likely has you asking what your hair transplant should include to be worth the cost.

Every clinic that performs this procedure is different. This makes a bit of research essential in choosing the best option. At Barber Surgeons Guild, you can expect the following ‘perks’ when undergoing hair transplantation.

Signature Haircut

It’s likely that you want to wear your hair in a particular way. By getting a signature haircut prior to your procedure, you’ll have a solid foundation to work from. This will make it easier for your restoration professional to implant your donor follicles in a way that makes your finished mane look natural. With the Master Barbers on site, there is often no need for a full buzz cut prior to the procedure. 

Per-Follicle Pricing Out the Window

Hair plug practitioners often charged based on the number of follicle patches they transplanted. Many hair restoration clinics have maintained this practice over the years. At Barber Surgeons Guild, we don’t utilize this price gouging technique. You’ll receive an all-inclusive price that’s focused solely on maximum hair regrowth in the areas you need filled in.


In addition to your hair transplant at BSG, you’ll receive Advanced Regenerative Therapy with your Robotic Hair Restoration at no additional cost. This is a combination of ATP and platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP therapy is isolated from your blood and contains numerous studied growth factors.

ATP is a form of cellular energy. The combination of these two procedures improves overall results. This is a far cry from the antiquated methods used with hair plugs.                         

Schedule Your Hair Transplant Today

Losing your hair isn’t an easy pill to swallow. With the advancement of modern technology, though, you have the opportunity to reclaim an awesome mane. When doing this, it’s essential that you never opt for subpar treatments. Doing so has left many guys wishing they’d just accepted their thinning hair.

Hair plugs are outdated at best and barbaric on their worst day. At Barber Surgeons Guild, we utilize the latest in technology to ensure a natural looking head of hair while avoiding the damage seen with other procedures. Reach out to BSG today for more info on getting your hair back!