Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT Hair Transplant as its commonly abbreviated (and sometimes called the Strip method hair transplant) involves removing permanent hair-bearing skin form the back and/or sides of the scalp (donor area). Then, using magnification, the tissue is dissected into follicular unit grafts (containing 1-4 hairs each). These small grafts are then meticulously planted into the bald or thinning area of the scalp (recipient area) so as not to injure any follicles already existing in the area and at the same exact angle as the other hairs present.
The creation of very small follicular unit grafts enables the hair surgeon to create very natural, feathered hairlines, avoiding the abrupt, “pluggy look” that was commonly seen in hair transplants of years past.
Some surgeons prefer to transplant exclusively with singular follicular unit grafts, while others feel that placing the multi-follicular unit grafts into the central areas of the scalp allows them to better create central density. Depending on the degree of balding in the frontal, mid-scalp, and vertex (crown) areas, will dictate where the harvested grafts are placed.
Sometimes (but rarely) 2-3 procedures are performed, with the number of grafts used varying tremendously, based on the area of potential alopecia, the patient’s “safe” donor supply, the textural characteristics of the patient’s hair, whether or not multi-follicular unit grafts are used in addition to singular follicular unit grafts, and the specific goals of the patient.
FUT Hair transplant surgery today is remarkably pain free compared to the surgeries of years past. Within 24 hours post surgery small crusts will form on each graft that is then shed in approximately 4-14 days. Even though they are warned of this prior to the procedure, this is still often extremely troubling for the patient. However the patient should do their best to stay calm and not get too anxious. The transplanted hair will grow. The embedded hairs will often start to grow by 10-16 weeks after the procedure and importantly will continue to grow for most, if not all, of one’s life. (As men and women age, there is a slight loss of hair density all over the head, which would naturally also affect the transplanted hairs).
The major benefit of a FUT Hair Transplant over and FUE Hair Transplant is that the FUT method will yield a considerably higher number of transplantable hair due to the extraction method. For patients desiring a thick, full look or who need a large amount of grafts FUT Hair Transplant is the recommended method. Due to fact that FUE Hair Transplants can only yield about 20 to 25% of the grafts as a FUT Transplant, this makes the FUT Transplant often the only viable method unless the patient is willing to make multiple trips.
It is important to use a highly skilled and experienced surgeon to ensure the transplantation of high quality follicular unit grafts so that the patient achieves the highest cosmetic benefit from the hair transplant surgery. A skilled surgeon will be able to tell which are the highest quality grafts as they are from the most permanent part of the donor area and should feature a layer of tissue around the follicles which acts as a protector.
The largest drawback and sometimes an insurmountable obstacle for some thinking of undertaking a FUT Hair procedure is the scaring present in the donor area post surgery. While this scar will thin out over time, and quickly becomes covered by hair so as to not be visible, in most cases the initial period of scar visibility, and the 3 to 6 weeks it takes for hair to hide it, presents potential patients with an uncomfortable quandary. Those working in offices or places where high public appearance is necessary and the use of headwear or scarfs is not appropriate have to consider whether the few weeks in which the scar is visible is too high a price to pay in order to have the hair regrowth on top. Each patients situation is different and unfortunately while the scaring is only visible temporarily it is the price for having a thicker, fuller more appealing hairline.
FUT Hair transplantation is on an out-patient basis so you will be needing admission to hospital. You are able to go back to your hotel after an observation of about 30 to 60 minutes.