Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is a hair restoration technique, also known as the strip surgery/method of hair transplantation. This procedure involves the extraction of a strip of skin from the back and sides of the scalp which is the safe donor area and is also the permanent hair zone. The extracted tissue contains multiple follicular grafts which are dissected into individual units of 1 to 4 hair by specially trained technicians with the help of magnification, under the supervision of a dermatologist/plastic surgeon. This procedure is considered to be an advance over older ones like punch grafting, that used larger grafts and often produced an unnatural look.
Once the patient has been anesthetized, a strip of scalp skin is taken out of the mentioned area. This area is sutured and the sutures are usually removed 12-14 days post-surgery. Once the strip has been removed, it is dissected into groups of follicular grafts under a magnifying glass.
These follicular grafts (might comprise of 1, 2 or 3 hair) are implanted in the scalp one-by-one. These are placed in tiny incisions made in the recipient zone in a way to give the most natural-looking results. The whole procedure may take six to seven hours on an average depending on the number of grafts needed.
FUT is a process that requires some patience before optimal results are noticed. Side effects of the surgery include scalp redness, swelling, and tenderness, which mostly resolve within a few weeks. Extra care needs to be taken in the first few weeks of recovery like not touching or rubbing the recipient site as friction can cause dislodgement of the transplanted grafts. Suture removal from the donor area is done 14-15 days post-surgery. Once the incision heals and hair grows over it, the scar will not be noticeable.
The transplanted hair will fall out about three weeks after the procedure. New hair growth may not start till 3 months post-surgery and noticeable results may not be seen till six months after the procedure.
FUT is the preferred method when there are insufficient donor grafts for the FUE technique, which the dermatologist/plastic surgeon will be able to tell. It is also preferred by patients who are unwilling to shave the back of the scalp.