A highly-advanced technique of hair transplantation, Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is performed in a way, which imitates the pattern of natural hair growth and is an ideal choice for people who have large bald areas on their head.
This procedure involves removing an entire strip of hair from a “donor area” where hair fall is less and hair growth is still thick. The area from where the strip is taken is sutured leaving a linear scar on the scalp.
The strip containing the hair follicles is divided into grafts consisting of one or two follicles. The follicular units contain sebaceous glands (oil glands), nerves, a tiny muscle, and some fine hairs called vellus hairs.
Thousands of these follicular unit grafts are placed into tiny incisions made on the bald areas of the patient’s scalp, also known as the “recipient areas,” in a single session. The hair growth from these grafts follows a very natural growth pattern, giving away no tell-tale signs of surgery.
What happens during the FUT procedure?
The follicular unit transplantation method or the strip method of hair transplant involves the following procedure:
- At the outset, the doctor anesthetizes the scalp.
- A strip of your hair tissue is removed from what is called the donor area, or the area on your head where the hair is more resistant to balding, i.e., the back and sides.
- The doctor then sutures the area from where the strip of hair tissue was removed. This leaves a fine scar, which can be easily covered by your remaining hair.
- The donor strip is cut into individual follicular units through a process of precise microscopic dissection.
- The doctor then drills minuscule holes on your scalp, where the hair loss has occurred and inserts the follicular graft units.
- A disinfecting solution is gently applied to your scalp.
- Your donor area is dressed with a bandage.
At the end of the procedure, the doctor will ask you to wear a bandana or a cap to protect your head for a few days.
What are the risks and disadvantages of the FUT procedure?
The risks and disadvantages of undergoing the FUT procedure include:
- Experiencing numbness, discomfort, or itching, during the process, which is transitory.
- Experiencing shock hair loss after the procedure, which is temporary. The hair usually grows back in 3-6 months.
- Local inflammation and infection, if proper care is not taken during and after the surgery.
- Scarring at the site where the donor strip is excised.
- Longer recovery period, as this procedure is invasive.
- Avoiding any form of strenuous activity for at least 4 weeks after the surgery.
What are the advantages of the FUT procedure?
The benefits of FUT procedure include:
- A large number of follicles that can be transplanted in a single session
- Provides better yield of hair compared to other hair procedures
- An enhanced, natural-looking cosmetic effect, once the hair grows
What guidelines should I follow before undergoing an FUT procedure?
Once you are deemed physically fit to undergo an FUT hair procedure, there are certain guidelines you need to follow:
- If you are taking any blood thinners, please let the doctor know immediately, as they may represent a contraindication to surgery.
- If you are taking broad beta-blockers let your doctor know immediately.
- If you use inhalers, you need to bring your inhaler to the clinic on the day of the procedure.
- Do not cut your hair within two weeks of your procedure and leave your hair at least ½” in length in the back and on the sides to cover the sutures after your FUT procedure.
- Your scalp should not be sunburned prior to the procedure.
- Do not take any anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for one week prior to your procedure.
- Do not take any B or E vitamins for one week before your procedure, this includes any multivitamins, as these tablets are known to increase bleeding.
- Medications prescribed to you such as heart and blood pressure medications should be taken as prescribed right up to and including the day of your procedure.
- If you smoke and drink alcohol, stop smoking and drinking alcohol two weeks prior to the procedure, as smoking and drinking can interfere with the healing process.
- If you dye your hair regularly, please dye your hair three days prior to the procedure and be sure to scrub your scalp everyday, including on the day of the procedure, to keep it free from dye.
- Please Note: You need to confirm with your doctor about washing your hair on the day of the procedure.
- Massage the donor area marked by the doctor on your head for 10 minutes everyday prior to the procedure to increase the flexibility or laxity of the skin.
- Some doctors may ask you to eat breakfast and lunch prior to the procedure, while others may ask you to refrain from eating and drinking at least 12 hours prior to the procedure. Please follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Some doctors may advise you to wash your hair thoroughly on the day of the procedure and some do not. Please follow the instructions of your doctor.
- Do not apply any hair sprays or other hair styling products on the day of the surgery.
- Do not drink any caffeinated beverages on the day of the procedure.
Are there any post-treatment guidelines after the FUT procedure?
After undergoing an FUT procedure:
- Sleep in a semi-sitting position after the hair restoration procedure. This will help the swelling to reduce faster and will prevent you from accidentally touching the areas where the hair follicles have been transplanted.
- Avoid touching, scratching, and rubbing the area where the hair follicles have been transplanted.
- Some doctors advise you to gently shampoo your head the very next day of the surgery. Some doctors do not. Follow your doctor’s instructions. You may also be advised to shampoo your hair twice a day after around 7 days of the surgery.
- Take the medications prescribed for you by your doctor.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for two weeks after the surgery.
- Cover your head with hats or a bandana to avoid direct contact with UV rays.
- Avoid any form of strenuous activity, including strenuous exercises (except a short routine walk or jogging), for at least 28 – 30 days after an FUT procedure. You can resume exercising 28 days after the procedure.
How many grafts can be transplanted in one session of FUT, and in how much time?
In one FUT session, you can undergo the transplantation of 5000 grafts safely, which is an advantage, as larger pockets of baldness can be addressed in a few sittings. The FUT method creates an enhanced, natural-looking cosmetic effect, once the hair grows.
This process will take 4 to 8 hours of your time depending on the number of grafts to be transplanted.
Since this is a less labour intensive surgery, it is affordable and allows a large number of grafts to be harvested in a single sitting. The scope of damage to your hair grafts during the graft dissection process is also minimal.