What is FUT?
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), also known as strip surgery, is a hair restoration procedure where a strip of hair-bearing scalp is removed from a donor area (usually the back or sides of the scalp where hair is more resistant to balding) and natural groups of 1 to 4 hairs (follicular units) are extracted from the strip and transplanted into the areas of the scalp needing treatment.
Who is a Good Candidate for FUT?
You are an ideal candidate for FUT if:
- You have hair loss and chose to restore your hair in a more discrete manner which does not require donor shaving prior to procedure (donor shaving is prerequisite for FUE)
- You have lost hair as a result of burns, trauma, or cosmetic procedures, such as facelifts.
- You have male pattern baldness for more than 5 years.
- Medically-proven hair loss treatments have not been working.
- Your hair loss has now stabilized after balding for many years.
- You are in overall good health and not suffering from any medical conditions.
- You have sufficient scalp laxity as loose scalp skin is a prerequisite for excision of strip donor tissue
- You have realistic expectations of FUT and understand that hair loss might continue to progress after surgery.
Preparation for FUT Procedure
The preparation for FUT procedure, in general, will involve the following steps:
- A thorough examination and review of your medical history is conducted to check for any medical issues that need to be addressed prior to the procedure.
- If you are a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least a couple of days prior to surgery.
- Do not consume alcohol for at least 3 days prior to surgery.
- Notify your doctor if you are taking any medications, such as pain killers or antibiotics. Refrain from taking any multivitamin or mineral supplements or herbal supplements for 1-2 weeks prior to procedure or as advised by your physician.
- If you have certain pre-existing medical conditions, you may need to perform certain tests such as an ECG or blood work prior to undergoing FUT, as advised by your physician.
How is FUT Procedure Performed?
The FUT procedure is usually performed in an office-based facility or in an outpatient setting under a local anesthetic and you will most likely be discharged on the same day of the surgery. The FUT technique, in general, will involve the following steps:
- Your surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into the donor area to numb the area.
- A thin strip of donor skin either from the back or side of the scalp is then removed, and the skin is closed with stitches.
- The donor strip is placed under a series of microscopes and individual follicular units (1 to 4 hairs) are meticulously dissected from it and prepared into tiny grafts.
- These grafts are placed in a special holding solution and refrigerated until they are ready to be implanted.
- Your surgeon will then inject an anesthetic into the bald area of your scalp and using a fine-needle size instrument, tiny incisions called recipient sites are created.
- Your surgeon then takes the isolated refrigerated follicular grafts and carefully inserts them into the recipient sites with the aid of a specially designed instrument. During this process, follicular units containing 1 to 2 hairs are inserted in the front of the scalp, toward your hairline, whereas the units with 3 to 4 hairs are inserted on the top of your head and at the crown in order to achieve a natural-looking hair pattern with sufficient thickness and density.
- Once the transplant is complete, you will go home wearing a cap, headband, or bandana, with permission to shower and shampoo the hair the day after the hair restoration surgery.
A maximum of 3000- 4000 thousand grafts can be transplanted in one session via any single method. You may need further sessions to accomplish the look you desire depending on the amount of hair coverage you need and the type of hair loss you have.
Postoperative Care and Instructions
To ensure good results from the FUT procedure, you need to diligently follow the postoperative instructions provided by your doctor which include:
- Refrain from washing your scalp for at least 2 to 3 days following surgery.
- Maintain utmost care while handling the newly inserted hair follicles for at least few days.
- Do not scratch your scalp or pick at scab for at least couple of weeks.
- Keep your head elevated while sleeping for a couple of days to help reduce swelling.
- Do not consume any aspirin-containing products or alcohol for at least a week.
- Refrain from taking any anticoagulants (blood thinners) for at least a couple of weeks following surgery.
- Hair care instructions will be provided, which include washing your hair gently the day following the procedure, gentle combing for a week, refraining from hair dryers for 1 to 2 weeks, refraining from hairspray, hair coloring, and haircuts for at least a couple of weeks.
- Infection is rare, but avoid exposure to dusty environment for at least a couple of weeks.
- Avoid direct exposure to sun for at least 3 weeks
- Refrain from smoking as it can negatively affect the healing process.
- Do not swim in chlorinated water for at least a couple of weeks.
- Refrain from any strenuous activities or sports for a week.
- Instructions on surgical site management will be provided.
- Follow-up appointments will be scheduled for removal of stitches from the donor area and to monitor your overall progress.
- You may experience pain, soreness, itchiness, and swelling of the scalp for the first couple of days. Medications will be provided for comfort.
- You may experience mild bleeding for a few days post surgery. Applying firm pressure gently on the area with a gauze pad for about 10 to 15 minutes should be sufficient to stop the bleeding.
- Use cold therapy such as compresses to alleviate pain and swelling
- Do not expect new hair growth in a week’s time
- Transplanted hair follicles may initially fall and then grow back (shock loss)
- Transplanted hair may remain inactive for at least 3 months
- You will start observing hair growth in at least 4 to 6 months
- In order to notice full results of hair restoration you may require at least a year
Risks and Complications of FUT
FUT is relatively a safe procedure; however, as with any surgery, there may be certain complications, such as:
- Temporary numbness at the excision site
Benefits of FUT
Some of the benefits of FUT hair transplantation technique include:
- Enables restoration of relatively larger areas
- Procedure is less time consuming compared to certain types of FUE
- The procedure does not require shaving hence it is more discrete and a preferred technique for female hair restoration
- Minimal injury to the recipient area compared to earlier techniques
- Minimal damage to donor area
- Grafts show a high rate of survival
- Natural looking results
For most people, the only way to restore hair permanently is to undergo surgical hair restoration. Talk to the hair restoration experts at CosmeSurge today to know how we can help.