FUT, or strip hair transplant, is a surgical procedure which harvests hair in its natural grouping from the back of the head (donor area) and implants them to the thinning or balding areas. FUT, or follicular unit transplantation, can relocate a large number of hairs during a hair transplant procedure. This technique provides natural results but leaves a linear scar at the back of the head. The scar of a strip transplant can easily be hidden in the rest of the hair if patients are keeping their hair long on the donor area. FUT hair transplant, or strip method, can effectively restore the balding area with a natural appearance.
GOOD CANDIDATES for follicular unit transplantation include:
The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for FUT:
FUT is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes between 6 to 9 hours (depending on the amount of hair to be transferred). Prior to a FUT procedure, a narrow strip of hair will be trimmed. The surgeon will numb both the donor and recipient area with local anesthetic. The surgeon will cut a strip of scalp from the back of the head, where the hair is trimmed, and remove the skin with hair follicles. The skin is then stitched back together.
A team of technicians will dissect these follicular units in their natural grouping which is usually units of one to three hairs per unit. At the recipient site, the surgeon creates tiny incisions where the grafts will be implanted. Grafts will be held in a special solution in a cold temperature before they are implanted. Each graft is carefully placed in the direction in which the hair follicles grow. The hairline is made with single hair grafts while larger grafts will be placed towards the back for more fullness.
An alternative hair transplant technique is called FUE or follicular unit extraction. This hair transplant technique also consists of taking grafts from the back of the head in their natural grouping. It uses a small punch, slightly larger than the size of a follicular unit, to remove the grafts. The hair follicular units are then sorted and transplanted into the balding areas of scalp.
FUE grafts can be harvested using a variety of tools including manual, motorized and robotic devices.
The cost of FUT varies according to the amount of grafts that are needed and the cost per graft charged by the surgeon. The cost can also increase due to any additional fees charged by the doctor and the facility. In general, the cost is anywhere from $5000-$20,000.
At the start of the RECOVEY process, patients may have some redness on the scalp and some pinpoint scabbing with tiny grafts sticking out. Washing and shampooing can resume the day after the surgery. Patients may experience some swelling which will last for a few days on their forehead and around the eyes. Most patients resume normal activities within a day or two.
In terms of DOWNTIME, the grafts will develop some crusting that sheds in 4 to 7 days. Patients might want to avoid social activities during this time period. Scabbing can be removed in a few days with proper washing. It is common for the transplanted hairs to shed within 2 to 4 weeks but new hairs will grow in their place in 2 to 3 months. It will take the back of the head approximately 10 days of healing before the stitches or staples are removed. For the first few weeks after the stitches are removed, patients should avoid strenuous activities to keep the scar from stretching.
The results from FUT take some time to become visible as the scalp heals and goes through the process of growing new hair. The new permanent hairs will begin to grow at about 8 to 12 weeks. The hair may look light and thin but will darken and thicken as it grows. Within 6 months, patients should see significant hair growth and the final results can be seen at about 9 to 12 months. The new hair is permanent since it is taken from the back of the head where the hair is more resistant to hair loss. However, the existing hair is still subject to further hair loss. Patients may need to use Rogaine or Minoxidil to slow the progression of additional hair loss as well as maintain the results. It can take a full year for the scar on the back of the head to fade and become thin and pale. The scar is usually not noticeable since the rest of the hair will hide it.
The limitations of FUT hair transplant include:
The risks of FUT hair transplant are:
FUT can restore a full head of hair on a patient who is lacking coverage. The new hair can last a lifetime and will look and feel natural. Patients considering a hair restoration procedure should consult with a doctor that specializes in hair transplants to make sure they are choosing the best technique for their needs. A board-certified doctor can walk a patient through the steps of having FUT as well as set realistic goals for the final results of the procedure.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Dr. Antonio Mangubat in Tukwila, WA