It’s the most popular and widely practiced type of hair transplant in the world – Follicular Unit Transplant. This technique has been developed and advanced over many years since the first surgery was performed in the 1950s.
Now, FUT is performed at nearly every hair restoration clinic worldwide with many satisfied clients to tell their story. What does the process of FUT involve, and what can you expect as someone undergoing this procedure?
Here’s everything you need to know about FUT and some key points to consider.
During a FUT procedure, the surgeon will remove a long, horizontal strip of skin from the back of the head, a region known as the donor area.
Since most men and women experience balding or thinning on the hairline or the vertex of the scalp, the donor area typically contains the strongest, healthiest, and densest concentration of hair, making it ideal for harvesting.
FUT is also known as “strip surgery” because of the segment of hair-bearing skin removed from the donor area, which yields high volumes of quality hair for transplantation.
The follicles harvested from this strip of skin are then processed and implanted one at a time into the recipient area designated by the surgeon and client during the consultation.
Since each follicle unit contains at least two hairs, the result is a greater amount of coverage and density on the scalp. FUT is efficient, with satisfactory outcomes and long-lasting results.
Both men and women can be great candidates for FUT.
The best candidates for FUT are men who experience typical male pattern balding caused by genetic factors and the concentration of DHT, which is a byproduct of testosterone.
This process is also known as androgenetic alopecia and is recognized by a receding hairline, thinning hair on the temples, and patchiness on the vertex.
Women interested in eyebrow or hairline lowering are also great candidates for FUT as no shaving is required. Since the majority of men have similar patterns of balding on the scalp due to androgenetic alopecia, FUT is the most common recommendation from hair restoration specialists.
However, some instances of hair loss in men and women are not due to genetics, but rather issues such as alopecia areata – an autoimmune disorder – or thyroid issues that cause hormone imbalances. Hair loss can also be due to treatments such as chemotherapy or the result of trauma or injury to the scalp.
In these cases, doctors will not typically recommend FUT to clients, since the results are not as predictable or long-lasting.
However, FUT can be highly effective for men with standard pattern balding and combined with medications like Minoxidil or Finasteride, the results can be outstanding.
After a client forms a strategy with the surgeon during the consultation, they will set a date for the procedure and make the necessary preparations ahead of time. This could involve making lifestyle changes or adjustments to medications in the weeks leading up to the surgery.
On the day of the procedure, the client will come to the clinic, have a final meeting with the surgeon, and proceed to the operating room where they will be seated comfortably before given a local anesthetic to the donor and recipient areas of the head.
The initial incision on the donor area is made, and the strip of hair is then processed by a team of technicians to yield the best follicle units for transplantation. The client may experience slight discomfort during the strip removal, but grafting is barely noticeable.
Depending on how many grafts are needed for the surgery, the entire process might last anywhere from four to eight hours total. During this time, the client can watch movies or TV, listen to music, or just relax and pass the time.
Clients, techs, and the surgeon will also take occasional breaks to get up, walk around, go to the bathroom, have snacks or drinks, and talk.
As the surgery concludes, doctors will speak with the client, give recovery instructions, and the client will go home that same day.
Recovering from FUT surgery requires that clients follow the directions of the surgeon and the clinic very closely, even if some measures seem drastic.
For the first week, it is extremely important that the client minimizes movement, strain, and stress. Although the scar and the scalp will feel tender and irritated, there should be no touching, scratching, poking, or anything that could disrupt or dismantle new grafts.
Clients should take at least three days away from work, even if they can work from home. They will be advised to use specific medication or shampoos and ointment on the scalp to maximize results and minimize scarring.
The day after the procedure, the client will have a follow-up meeting with the surgeon for a post operative check up. After that, if any unusual developments occur in the first two weeks, waste no time in reaching out to the clinic for an emergency call or meeting.
Provided everything goes to plan in the first two weeks, the scalp will heal fully and you can return to normal work, exercise, and lifestyle. Over the next six months or so, new hair will start to grow as normal.
A final meeting is held about a year after the surgery to discuss the overall experience and plan the next steps.
FUT is a very popular procedure because it yields high volumes of quality hair for lasting and aesthetically pleasing results.
It is also a highly efficient process that minimizes transection (damage to the grafts) and is often more cost-effective than other procedures such as Follicular Unit Excision (FUE).
Be sure to discuss pricing with your surgeon and consider all costs that go into the total.
The main drawback of FUT, however, is the horizontal scar left on the donor area at the back of the head. For clients who want to keep a close-shaved look on the scalp, this can be an aesthetic issue.
Thankfully, scarring can be kept to a minimum by trained and experienced surgeons, and sometimes camouflaged by procedures like scalp micropigmentation.
Clients can also do their part to reduce scarring by following the proper aftercare protocols spelled out by the clinic.
If you can deal with minor scarring on the back of the head or find ways to keep it covered, the benefits of FUT far outweigh the cons.
If you believe you’re a good candidate for FUT and you’re ready to take the next step, start looking for a doctor who will guide you through the process and do exceptional work.
Here are some tips for finding a great doctor for your FUT experience.
FUT is a serious procedure, meaning you should go to a hair restoration specialist rather than a general cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. A good way to identify proven professionals in this field is to look for hair restoration specialists that perform hair transplants full time, and are M.D.’s. They should have years of experience in the field. Browse the credentials and accomplishments of a surgeon before booking a consultation, and consider crossing state lines to get the best possible work done.
Top surgeons will also have made contributions to the field of hair restoration and be published in major medical journals. Look for expertise in other areas like eyebrow or beard transplant that requires technical abilities and understanding of aesthetics.
The world’s best FUT doctors have a wealth of positive reviews and testimonials across the internet and on their own webpage.
Read in-depth reviews to get an idea of the surgeon’s process and approach, be aware of any recurring complaints or issues voiced by clients.
Don’t be fooled by low prices, specials, or other “deals” – FUT is not something you want at a discount.
Be sure to browse before-and-after photo galleries as well, since this will give you a visual reference for what to expect from your surgery.
Since FUT is widely practiced throughout the world, it’s even more important that you keep your expectations high and hold clinics and surgeons to a high standard of professionalism and honesty when seeking consultation.
A great doctor will discuss a full hair restoration plan in addition to FUT surgery, including other treatments, medications, and lifestyle factors. This should be a two-way conversation between you and your doctor, and you should agree on a proper path forward together.
Remember, FUT might not be necessary at this time, so keep an open mind and consider all options.
We hope you now have everything you need to know about FUT, what to expect from the procedure, and finding a great surgeon and clinic.
Even if you aren’t sold on FUT just yet, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with a hair restoration specialist to discuss your hair loss experience and get ahead of the problem sooner than later.
Hair Transplant for Permanent Results | American Academy of Dermatology Association
Which Hair Restoration Technique is Right for You? | American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
Strip Harvesting vs. FUE | International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery
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