What is FUT?
Also known as ‘strip surgery’ or FUSS (Follicular Unit Strip Surgery), FUT stands for Follicular Unit Transplantation and is a type of surgical hair transplant known for minimizing trauma to the scalp and producing natural-looking results.
In FUT operations, ‘follicular units’ made up of naturally occurring groups of one-to-four hairs, sebaceous (oil) glands, nerves, a small muscle, and occasionally fine vellus hairs, are transplanted. Preserving the unit as a whole in this way is thought to help hair growth once transplanted.
Modern Follicular Unit Transportation is considered an advance on older hair transplant techniques which used larger grafts, and often gave obvious and ‘pluggy’-looking results. Transplanting the smaller units used in FUT allows thousands of grafts to be transplanted in a single session, resulting in a more natural-looking effect for the patient. If done well, the new grafts should mimic normal hair growth patterns and be virtually undetectable.
How is FUT different from standard Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?
The difference between Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) revolves around the way in which the donor hair that is used for the transplant, is taken.
For FUT, hair from the back of the scalp is harvested in a single, thin strip. It is then trimmed into individual follicular units under microscopes, with each unit measuring around 1mm in width. Assuming there is an adequate supply of donor hair available from the patient, up to 3,000 grafts can be transplanted at one time, yielding 100 hairs per square centimetre. However, this method requires a longer healing time after surgery and leaves a large scar across the scalp, though this can be hidden by longer hair.
Alternatively, FUE uses a robotic ‘punch’ device to remove the follicular units directly from the back and sides of the scalp. This specialised punch allows hair to be removed directly from the skin without causing damage, so it is a non-invasive procedure. This means the scalp will heal faster and patients often show no visible signs of having had a hair transplant, just ten days after surgery.
The surgical procedure
For a hair transplant to look as natural as possible, the implanted hairs must emerge from ‘normal’ skin. In order to cause the least amount of trauma to the skin on the patient’s head, excess tissues of non-hair bearing skin are first trimmed from around the small follicular units.Because each follicular unit is generally of a similar size, it makes them more straightforward for the surgeon to work with. This is particularly useful in the planning stages and helping to work out the precise number of grafts that can be carried out.
The surgeon then inserts them into tiny, needle-made incisions in the patient’s scalp, whereby any damage to the connective tissue and blood supply is minimised, and the units fit snugly. This also provides a degree of control over the direction in which the hair will grow.
By using this FUT technique, some of the cosmetic issues with old-fashioned hair transplant methods, such as dimpling and pigment changes in the skin, graft depression or elevation, and a shiny looking scalp, can be avoided. The combination of making tiny incisions along with transplanting small, specially trimmed follicular units, preserves the elasticity of the scalp whilst keeping the grafts firmly in place.
Additionally, whilst the healing process is longer for FUT patients than those who opt for FUE procedures, the snug fit of these units facilitates healing as it ensures the grafts receive enough oxygen from surrounding tissues.
“FUT is the more commonly used method of transplant, whereby a strip of scalp in the back of the head is dissected. This strip is then divided into smaller units comprising one, two or three follicles, and then implanted into the thinning areas. The positioning of the units determines the aesthetic result of the hair transplant and the resulting hair growth should lean towards the natural direction of hair growth.”
She also counsels anyone considering a hair transplant to remember that surgery and hair loss treatments go hand-in-hand:
“Hair transplants are done to cover thin parts where the hair can no longer grow back through the use of pharmaceutical hair growth treatments. The transplanted hair grows naturally since it is not affected by DHT. However, the hair around the implants may still be susceptible to hereditary hair loss and can progressively thin. This is why, it is important that a comprehensive hair loss treatment programme is maintained after the procedure to sustain the hair around the implants.”
Summary of the main advantages of FUT
- Good for covering larger areas of baldness (a larger number of grafts can also help in combating any post-transplant shedding)
- Quicker process with less trauma to the scalp
- More natural looking results
Summary of the main disadvantages of FUT
- Requires incisions into the scalp
- A longer healing time is needed than with FUE
- Will leave scarring across the scalpIf you would like to discuss your suitability for a hair loss treatment programme, contact Jjaesthetics for consultation with a specialist. To book an appointment, call 03205636745 or message the centre. Alternatively, submit an online consultation from anywhere in the world Our one of the clinic’s advisors will contact you.