The multi-blade scalpel was used by most hair transplant surgeons during the early days of strip excision surgery. A multi-blade scalpel consists of a single handle with multiple blades, usually two-to-four blades in total. Clinics may still use this type of scalpel for strip removal, but most agree that there are better tools for donor strip removal.
The multi-blade scalpel is still sometimes used for follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) procedures:
A multi-blade scalpel can be useful for speed, but absolutely disastrous for donor hair and the donor zone if not used properly. This is because multi-blade scalpels are less maneuverable, which can make it difficult to dissect the donor strip without causing high rates of transection. The use of multiple blades also increases the likelihood of making too deep of an incision, which increases the possibility of infection, necrosis, and unsightly results such as wide donor scars, permanent shock loss, and persistent or chronic numbness due to too many nerves being damaged.
The more blades a scalpel contains, the more likely the physician is to transect the follicular units (a transection means that the follicular unit has been damaged by making contact with the surgical instrument). In fact, one study found that up to 25% of hair follicles are damaged by multi-blade scalpels when incising the donor zone. During this study, even the best surgeons still lost up to 10% of the overall follicular harvest from the donor zone by using scalpels with multiple blades. Since the donor zone contains a limited amount hair, it is critical that the number of transected follicles be kept to a minimum. A single blade is more efficient for this reason and because:
However, a major advantage of the multi-blade scalpels is that they cover a greater portion of the scalp in less time, which makes hair transplants exponentially quicker. This advantage is debatable since it this increase in speed comes at a very high cost to the donor zone.