FUT Hair Transplant | Cost, Stages, Advantages
A highly advanced hair transplant procedure is Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), which is performed in a way that mimics natural pattern of hair growth and is an ideal choice for people with large areas of head lacking hair.
Hair transplantation is traditionally divided into two methods which currently in use:
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
- Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
In FUT method, surgeon usually cuts a strip of skin from the back or even side of head and extracts every individual hair follicle. Follicles which extracted are then inserted into the balding parts of scalp. One of the main differences that this method has in comparison with FUE method is FUT works best at covering male pattern baldness.
FUT hair transplant
This procedure involves removing a strip of hair from donor area, where the strip has little hair loss and hair growth is still strong. The area where hair root is removed is sutured and leaves a linear scar on scalp.
The strip containing hair follicles is divided into grafts consisting of one or two follicles. Follicular units contain sebaceous glands, nerves, small muscles, and some fine hairs, including thick hairs. Thousands of these follicular grafts are divided into small incisions and implanted in bald areas of patient’s scalp, known as “recipient areas“, in one session. Hair growth from these grafts follows a natural growth pattern and shows no signs of surgery.
What exactly happens during FUT procedure?
The method of follicular unit transplantation or strip method of hair transplantation includes the following:
- The doctor numbs scalp.
- A strip of your own hair tissue is taken from what’s called a donor area, or an area where your hair is resistant (meaning it’s less likely to go bald or fall out).
- Then the doctor sutures tissue of area from where hair was removed. This is a small, superficial wound that is easily covered by your remaining hair.
- The donor strip is cut into unique follicular units by a microscopically precise dissection process.
- The doctor then drills small holes on your scalp where the hair loss has occurred and inserts follicular transplant units.
- The disinfectant solution is gently applied to your scalp.
- Your donor area will be covered with a bandage.
At the end of procedure, the doctor will ask you to wear a cap or headband to protect your head for a few days.
Advantages of FUT method
- A large number of follicles can be transplanted in one session.
- Provides better hair yield compared to other hair methods.
- Increase growth and provide a natural look to the hair.
- It is more affordable than other hair methods such as FIT and SUT methods.
Risks and disadvantages of FUT method
- During numbing process, you experience discomfort or itching, which is temporary.
- The experience of hair loss after surgery is temporary. Hair usually grows within 3-6 months.
- If proper care is not taken during and after surgery, you will have local inflammation and infection.
- The presence of a scar at the site where donor tape was removed.
- Because it is an invasive procedure, it has a longer recovery period.
- Avoiding any type of vigorous activity for at least 4 weeks after surgery.
Tips before FUT hair transplantation
When you feel that you are physically ready for hair transplantation, follow the recommendations before hair transplantation and visit clinic:
- If you are taking any blood thinning medication, please discuss it with your doctor as it may interfere with surgery.
- If you are using beta blockers, tell your doctor immediately.
- If you use inhalation sprays, you should take them with you to clinic or bring them with you on day of surgery.
- Keep your hair trimmed for two weeks after surgery, leaving at least half of your hair intact on back and sides of sutured area so that you can cover sutured area.
- Before operation, your scalp should not be sunburned.
- Do not take any anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a week before operation.
- Do not take any B or E vitamins, including any multivitamins, for a week before procedure, as these pills increase bleeding.
- Medicines prescribed for you, such as heart and blood pressure medicines, must be taken exactly as prescribed even on the day of surgery.
- If you smoke or drink alcohol, stop smoking and drinking alcohol two weeks before surgery. Smoking and drinking alcohol can interfere with healing process.
- If you dye your hair regularly, please dye your hair three days before procedure. To be sure, clean your scalp every day. On the day of surgery, your scalp must be free of any color substances.
- Consult with your doctor about washing your hair on day of surgery and do so if he or she deems it appropriate.
- Massage donor area specified by doctor with your hands for ten minutes every day in order to soften and loosen skin of that area.
- Some doctors may ask you to eat breakfast and lunch before surgery, while others may ask you to refrain from eating and drinking for at least 12 hours before surgery. Please follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Some doctors may advise you to wash your hair completely on that day and some of them may not advise you to do so. Please follow your doctor’s instructions.
- On the day of surgery, do not apply hair sprays or other cosmetic hair products.
- Avoid drinking any caffeinated beverages on the day of surgery.
Care after FUT hair transplantation
- After hair transplant, sleep in a semi-sitting position. This will help reduce swelling quickly and prevent you from accidentally touching areas where the transplanted hair follicles are.
- Avoid touching, scratching, or rubbing the area where hair follicle was transplanted (implanted area).
- Some doctors advise you to gently shampoo your hair the day after surgery, but others do not. Follow your doctor’s instructions. You may also be advised to shampoo your hair twice a day for 7 days after surgery.
- Use the medicines prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for two weeks after surgery.
- Cover your head with a hat or headband to avoid direct contact with UV rays.
- For at least 28 to 30 days after FUT surgery, avoid any heavy activity, including strenuous exercise (except for short walks or jogging). You can resume exercises 28 days after operation.
Washing head after hair transplant by FUT method
Your scalp must be cleansed before leaving clinic on the day of procedure.
In first 24 hours, there is minor bleeding from transplant sites. You can easily clean it using a clean cloth or gauze with less pressure. You can wash your skin gently on second day; To do this, fill a bowl in bathroom with a mixture of water and regular shampoo (non-therapeutic) and gently wash top of head, back and sides.
Do not shower directly, fill a bowl with clean water and rinse your hair, then gently dry. Do not use ventilation until scratches on skin heal. Normal washing is allowed on third day, but avoid combing grafted points directly. Allow hair to air dry (not with high pressure: like a hair dryer).
Continue this routine for first five days. After this, you can start rubbing graft area to help remove scratch and you can shower as usual. Avoid wounding transplanted area as this can destroy transplanted hair follicles. Any remaining scabs should be cleaned after eight days. If there is bleeding, wait another two days.
Common complications after FUT hair transplantation
Swelling of face and around eyes
Swelling around face and eyes is common after a hair transplant. Some people also complain about bruising and discoloration. Discoloration occurs only after bruising has resolved. Numbness at graft sites and above suture line in donor area is common and normal. This complication takes several weeks, sometimes months to resolve.
Hair loss after transplantation
Transplanted hair will often fall out after 5 to 7 days along with skin. Don’t worry, these are just hair shafts. The transplanted hair follicles remain in scalp. In about two and a half to three months, the new hair shafts will grow naturally and will continue to grow at normal rate of one half to one inch per month. In rare cases, it may take six to nine months for all hair to grow back.
Using minoxidil after hair transplant
To accelerate new hair growth, it is recommended that male patients start using minoxidil 5% (extra-strength Rogaine) once or twice daily starting on the 10th day after surgery. Women should use 2% minoxidil solution (Rogin for women).
If minoxidil causes a red scalp, stop using it for a week, and then resume using it once daily. Once hair is growing (about three months after operation), you can stop using minoxidil and transplanted hair will continue to grow.
Sometimes the patient is sensitive to minoxidil (heart palpitations, dizziness, skin itching), in which case its use should be stopped.
Pimples and acne after implantation
As new hair appears on scalp, sometimes a few acne-like pimples appear. If this happens, apply warm antibiotic ointment several times a day for three days. If problem persists, please contact your doctor.
Possible risks and side effects of FUT hair transplantation
There are risks involved in any surgical or medical procedure, and we have created an opportunity for you to ask questions to fully understand potential risks and side effects of hair restoration surgery. Possible incidents or complications may occur, although these are rare.
Create a scar
Whenever an incision is made in human body, a scar occurs, although any attempt to find a noticeable scar is impossible. Scaling, pinking, or redness of incision site may occur, but these effects are usually temporary. Rarely, some of skin around edges of sutures may break away, causing deep crusting that takes some time to heal.
Anesthetic injection reactions
Local anesthetics (lidocaine, bupivacaine) with adrenaline (epinephrine) may affect many body systems, including heart. Such effects may include allergic reactions, irregular heartbeat or, in rare cases, a heart attack. Such risks from surgical procedures under local anesthesia are not common.
Patients with high blood pressure or heart disease who take beta-blocking drugs may be sensitive to epinephrine. Some patients may experience a temporary shock like a nervous reaction to injections. This reaction may cause a drop in blood pressure and eventually fainting. This condition can be treated easily and relatively quickly. If you are being treated with heart medications or blood pressure medications, you must inform monitoring department before surgery.
There may be unusual, unexpected, or allergic responses to medications, sutures, or foods prescribed and used during surgery. It’s important to tell department about any problems you or a family member have had with drug reactions, as well as report any medications you’ve taken in past six months, including over-the-counter medications (especially aspirin) and street drugs
This is an uncommon problem where hair follicles become infected with bacteria. If such an event occurs, it is usually related to postoperative period. Symptoms include redness around graft, pus and pustules around ingrown hair, and itching. There may be hair loss in affected follicles, but since problem is with individual hair follicles, cosmetic hair loss is rarely noticeable. Treatment also includes oral antibiotics, which may be taken for a long time.
Hair loss after implantation
There may be some hair loss on back of scalp around area where donor strip was removed. This hair will generally grow back. Less common is hair loss in skin adjacent to surgical site.
In transplant area, your own hair may fall out after surgery (a condition called telogen effluvium). If this hair has reached end of its life or is close to its end of life, it may not grow back. Since genetic baldness is an ongoing process, you may lose more hair over time. If this happens, a hair transplant procedure may seem desirable.
Hair texture change
When your new hair starts to grow, they may be rough and wavy compared to your own hair. Over time, the hair will slowly return to its natural state, but it is possible that change in hair texture will be permanent.
Failure to grow transplanted hair
As with all surgical procedures, results cannot be guaranteed. Some or all of transplanted hair may grow back. Every effort is made to maximize the results of your hair transplant.
Numbness and pain
Numbness of scalp may be caused by necessary cutting of tiny nerve fibers in scalp. The problem is expected to gradually resolve over several months, but all scalp sensation may not be restored. Rarely, sensory nerve damage may occur, leading to possible or prolonged numbness or pain in scalp.
Smoking causes blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow to scalp, which is mainly caused by nicotine. Carbon monoxide in smoke reduces blood oxygen carrying capacity. These factors may cause poor wound healing after a hair transplant and increase possibility of wound infection and scarring.
Smoking may also cause poor hair growth. The harmful effects of smoking tend to disappear once a person quits, so smoking puts a person at risk of poor recovery even if they have quit smoking for years or even months.
FAQ about FUT Hair Transplantation
How many hair follicles can be transplanted in one session and how long does it take?
In one FUT session, you can safely transplant 5,000 hair follicles, which is an advantage, as larger bald areas can be covered in a few sessions. When hair grows, FUT method increases appearance and natural beauty.
This process takes 4 to 8 hours, which also depends on number of transplanted grafts. Since this surgery is less troublesome, it is cost-effective and allows a large number of grafts to be implanted in one session. The extent of damage to your hair grafts during graft cutting process is also minimal.
How long does it take to heal after surgery?
About 10 to 14 days after FUT procedure, recovery is achieved.
How much is cost of planting each graft in a FUT method?
The cost of each graft is 0.2 to 0.25 dollars.
Are results from FUT permanent?
Hair transplant results are generally considered permanent.
Is there an alternative method instead of FUT?
Depending on pattern and extent of your hair loss, skin laxity and size of bald spots on your head, an alternative to FUT may be FIT.