Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)

In another article, one of the two main methods in performing hair transplant surgery - Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) - was discussed. Here, the other method, Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) will be the subject.

The emphasis with the FUT method is on the word transplant. This procedure surgically extracts a strip of follicles for transplanting, in contrast to the FUE procedure of extracting individual follicle units. The issue of transection, where individual follicles are damaged during the extraction process, is much less of a concern with FUT. (For a more detailed discussion of transection, please refer to the article on FUE.)

The FUT method often has a higher success rate of hair growth and a significantly reduced cost to the patient.

Instead of individual units, a strip of hair is removed from the back of the patient’s head, the graft is placed under a stereo microscope where groups of one to four hairs are selected to be transplanted into the recipient area.

Because FUT requires less of the scalp area when performing the surgery, second or subsequent procedures are possible without complications, and it will produce results equal in quality to the initial procedure. This makes the choice between FUT and FUE somewhat simpler if the patient is expecting to have multiple hair transplants performed over the course of their lifetime.

In the FUT method, when a section of the scalp is removed, the surgeon must sew the missing part of the scalp back together.

During the initial consultation for receiving a hair transplant, the question of whether a patient is a good candidate for the procedure is discussed. In determining the best method of hair transplantation, potential candidates whose scalp is too tight, preventing the proper stitching of the scalp after the donor graft is removed, the FUT method will likely not be recommended.

The differences between performing an FUT versus and FUE are not considerably different.

What follows is a generalized description of the FUT process.

Two sites are selected on the scalp by the doctor– a donor site where the section of scalp will be removed, and a recipient site where the strip of hair will be grafted.

Similar to FUE, the recipient site must be prepared before extracting the follicle grafts. This is done by creating recipient sites in the scalp using a precision tool.

At the donor site, a strip of tissue is surgically removed. The result of the incision is a small strip that will require surgical staples to close completely. This area usually heals over a seven to ten day period.

There is an extra step in FUT as the graft needs to be placed under a microscope and specific follicles selected to be transplanted. This process is repeated until a sufficient number of strips have been removed to complete the hair transplantation.

Depending on the amount of hair to be transplanted, the procedure can take one or more hours.

Then who are the best candidates for the FUT method of hair transplant? Most patients generally can use FUT provided there are no issues with an overly tight or loose scalp. FUT is particularly beneficial for patients who have large areas to be transplanted as the regrowth and yield rates are statistically much higher than with FUE.