Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is a hair transplant procedure where units of hair are transplanted in their natural grouping. Follicular units of hair are made up of one to four terminal hair grafts nourished by their own tiny blood vessels. They also contain protein sheaths made of collagen and oil glands. The oil glands, blood vessels and protein sheaths help the follicular unit grafts maintain their entire anatomic structure. In turn, this provides results that are healthy and realistic in appearance. In addition, FUT gives surgeons the ability to use greater precision in controlling the direction of a patient’s hair.
During a FUT procedure the doctor will use stereoscopic magnification to harvest high quality hair grafts. The hair grafts will then be transplanted in their natural direction and normal distribution. The use of special needles and micro-blades in the transplant process minimizes any possibility of scarring occurring due to the implanted hair follicles being packed together tightly to produce fuller looking hair.
In general, FUT takes around 6 to 8 hours to perform. The total procedure time depends on the number of grafts placed by the surgeon, the total size of the area being treated and the distribution of the patients’ hair. The hairline is naturally designed in a manner that complements the age, ethnicity and sex of the patient.
Follicular unit transplantation, or strip FUT, differs from FUE because a strip of scalp skin is removed from the posterior scalp. This area is also known as the permanent zone. The size of the linear strip depends on the number of grafts needed to achieve the desired results. The smaller the number of grafts needed, the smaller the width and length of the strip. The maximum length and width of 18mm might be reached in a FUT session requiring 3000 (or more) grafts.
Once the strip is removed from the scalp of the patient, the wound is closed by using dissolvable internal sutures and external staples or sutures. The strip is then processed and cut into natural groupings of follicular units of 1 to 4 hairs. The natural grouping is maintained to preserve their anatomical structure. This also allows for a more natural look after the transplant.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE FUT SURGERY
About 10 days after surgery, the donor area will begin returning to normal and any sutures or staples will be removed.
Some patients might experience shock loss of their hair after 2-3 months. However, there is no need to worry as the transplanted hair will start to grow back within a few months.
New hair growth is more visible after 4-6 months thanks to the hair being longer and thicker. Almost all of the new hair will have grown back by this point but they will still not be at their final length or thickness.
The hair will continue to become thicker and longer as time passes. The final results will be visible after about 12-18 months.