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 advanced hair loss requiring a large number of hair grafts for more coverage.
- 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 realistic expectations of FUT and understand that hair loss might continue to progress after surgery.
Preparation for FUT Procedure
The preparation for FUT, in general, will involve the following steps:
- A thorough review of your medical history is conducted.
- If you are a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least a couple of weeks prior to surgery.
- Do not consume alcohol at least 3 days prior to surgery.
- Refrain from taking aspirin or any anti-inflammatory medication 2 weeks prior to the procedure.
- Refrain from taking beta-blockers, blood thinners, and antidepressants for 2 weeks prior to the procedure.
- Refrain from taking any multivitamin or mineral supplements or herbal supplements for 2 weeks prior to the procedure.
- If you are older than 45 years of age, you may need to perform some tests such as an ECG or blood work.
- A written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical process has been explained in detail.
Procedure for FUT
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.
- 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 4 thousand hairs can be transplanted in one session. You may need many sessions to accomplish the look you desire depending on the amount of hair coverage you need and the type of hair loss you have.
PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) is typically used in hair transplant procedures after the transplantation of hair follicles. PRP is prepared by taking a sample of a patient's own blood, processing it to concentrate the platelets and growth factors, and then injecting it into the scalp.
By injecting PRP into the scalp, the growth factors can help to increase blood flow to the transplanted hair follicles, enhance the healing process, and improve the survival of the transplanted follicles.
The timing and frequency of PRP injections depend on the individual patient's needs and the surgeon's recommendations.
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:
- After discharge to home you should rest with minimal activity until the next day.
- While sleeping, keep your head elevated for a couple of days to help reduce swelling.
- Do not consume any aspirin-containing products or alcohol for at least a week.
- You may experience pain, soreness, and swelling 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 for about 15 minutes should be sufficient to stop the bleeding.
- Instructions on surgical site management will be provided.
- 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 dust for at least a couple of weeks.
- Do not swim in chlorinated water for at least a couple of weeks.
- Refrain from any strenuous activities or sports for a week.
- Follow-up appointments will be scheduled for removal of stitches from the donor area and to monitor your overall progress.
Risks and Complications of FUT
FUT is relatively a safe procedure; however, as with any surgery, there may be certain complications, such as:
Benefits of FUT
Some of the benefits of the FUT hair transplantation technique include:
- Enables restoration of relatively larger areas
- The procedure is less time consuming
- Minimal injury to the recipient area compared to earlier techniques
- Grafts show a high rate of survival
- Natural-looking results