Everything You Need To Know About FUT Benefits, Risks, And Costs
You had a full head of hair in your 20s, but this changed when you were still in your 30s and by the time you hit your 40s, you started to go bald. You're not alone - studies indicate that 42% of all men experience moderate to extensive hair loss while they are still in their 40s. Hair transplant surgery is a good option for most men with mild to moderate hair loss. There are 3 types of hair transplant procedures - the FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), the FUE procedure (Follicular Unit Extraction), and the DHI (Direct Hair Implant). FUT is very popular because it provides good results even though it is the cheapest hair transplant surgery available.
What is FUT?
FUT is a hair restoration technique in which a strip of tissue from the back of the head is excised and donor hair follicles are then extracted from it. The extracted hair is then transplanted to areas affected by hair loss. This hair restoration method results in a linear scar at the back of your head but it will be covered as soon as your hair grows a little.
The Pros & Cons Of FUT Hair Transplants
Which hair transplant method is the best? This is one of the most common questions patients ask hair transplant surgeons but there is no definitive answer as each type of hair transplant method has its own set of pros and cons. The best hair transplant method for you is the one that best meets your requirements. Let's take a look at the benefits and risks of FUT to determine if this is the best option for you.
The Advantages Of FUE
Higher Graft Quality
"A stereoscopic microscope is used in an FUT procedure as it decreases the transaction of hair and improves hair graft yield"
One of the main FUT benefits is that it gives a much higher yield of hair as compared to FUE. The extraction punch used in the FUE procedure causes significant transaction (cut across)- these transected hair follicles do not survive the transplantation process. However, in the FUT process, the extraction of hair from the excised strip of tissue is carried out under a stereoscopic microscope which drastically decreases transection and improves the yield of hair. This makes FUT ideal for patients with extensive balding who need to achieve maximum volume through their hair restoration surgery.
Multiple Sessions Do Not Increase The Risk Of Scarring
"FUT scars are not accumulative which means that multiple FUT sessions will not lead to hair thinning in the donor area"
FUT results in a single linear scar at the donor site. During subsequent FUT sessions, your hair transplant surgeon will incorporate your old scar in the new incision - as one edge of the new strip. This means that even though the surgeon extracts more hair for implantation during a second FUT session, it does not lead to hair thinning in the donor area. This is one of the advantages of FUT hair transplant surgeries over FUE as multiple FUE sessions result in accumulative hair loss from the donor areas.
"An FUT hair transplant surgery costs as little as 60-70 thousand which is approximately half of what a FUE hair transplant surgery costs"
FUT costs are often a lump sum amount while FUE costs depend on the number of grafts that are required. It is important to consider hair transplant costs when deciding on which hair transplant method is best for you; also take into consideration that you might need a follow-up session. Although hair transplant costs vary greatly from state to state, the FUT costs will always be considerably cheaper than FUE.
The Disadvantages Of FUT
"The average width of an FUT scar is 1.82 mm which makes it visible if patients opt for military-style haircuts"
FUT invariably causes a linear scar that is approximately 1.82 mm. This scar can even turn into a keloid if the scar tissue grows excessively - if this happens, further surgery would be required to get rid of this scar tissue. If the incision is not sutured correctly, it can cause the scar to widen considerably and become visible. Studies show that restricting the width of the donor strip can help to reduce FUT scarring but it can be a concern for patients who prefer military-style haircuts.
Limited Harvesting Options
"The FUT hair transplant procedure is limited to a narrow strip of skin at the back of the head and cannot be used for body to head transplants"
With an FUE hair transplant, body hair from the chest, arms or legs can be extracted and then transplanted to the scalp but this is not an option for an FUT hair transplant. FUT can only be performed on a specific area of the head - the donor area for an FUT is approximately 22 cm. Scalp laxity differs from person to person; individuals with low scalp laxity will have a smaller donor area which means that they will have fewer grafts for their FUT transplant procedure.
Longer Recovery Period
"Facial swelling near the nose, cheeks, and eyes can persist for up to a week"
The recovery period for FUT is much longer than the recovery time for FUE. With an FUT hair transplant, scabbing starts within 2-3 days but facial swelling near the nose, cheeks, and eyes can persist for up to a week. At the end of the second week, the transplanted hairs fall out due to "shock loss" and it will take 2-5 months from this point for the transplanted hairs to grow in.
The FUT Procedure: What To Expect
There are more FUT hair transplant risks as compared to other hair transplant methods so FUR pre-care commences 14 days before the scheduled date of the procedure. In the 2 weeks prior to your FUT hair transplant procedure, you will need to quit smoking and drinking as these habits will decrease the effectiveness of the hair transplant surgery and increase the risk of FUT side effects. These are the FUT steps that your hair transplant surgeon will follow:
1. The surgeon will trim or shave the donor site and then inject your scalp with a long-acting, local anesthesia. General anesthesia is not required but you may be given a sedative to help you relax since the procedure is quite time-consuming.
2. The hair transplant will then use a scalpel to excise an elliptically shaped strip of tissue from the back of your scalp. The width and length of this strip will be determined by the laxity of your skin at the back of your scalp as well as the number of hair follicles you require. The excised strip has a maximum length of 30 cm and a maximum width of 1.5 cm.
3. The wound will then be sutured using a technique called Trichophytic Closure which makes FUT hair transplant scars less visible.
4. The strip is carefully dissected into follicular units by the hair transplant team - each unit is a grouping of 2-4 hair follicles. Every single graft is carefully prepared for the transplantation.
5. The surgeon will make miniuscule incisions in the area to be treated and these hair follicles are then inserted into the incisions. The surgeon can transplant over 3,000 hair grafts in a single session.
6. A semi-permeable dressing is used to cover and protect the donor area. Normally, FUT dressing is removed after 7-10 days. Your surgeon may suggest a tumescent mixture of saline, xylocaine, epinephrine, and triamcinolone as studies show that this method can prevent edema in up to 97.4% of cases.
Who's A Good Candidate For FUT?
FUT is ideal for people with advanced hair loss - especially at their hairline as they require high graft numbers. Men who have hair loss caused by male pattern baldness for 5 years or those who are classified as a Norwood Scale Class 3 or above will benefit from an FUT hair transplant. FUT might also be the only option for men who have not reacted positively to medical treatments for hair loss. FUT can also help people who have lost their hair due to trauma such as burns or lacerations. However, people who are entirely bald would not be considered ideal candidates for an FUT hair transplant surgery.
FUT is an effective hair restorative surgery but it is important to disclose your complete medical history to your surgeon. People who are on certain blood thinners will not be able to opt for this type of hair transplant surgery as the risk of FUT side effects would be much higher for these individuals. It is also important that you have realistic expectations from your FUT surgery. Find out if your surgeon has a portfolio with FUT hair transplant before and after pics so that you have a clear idea of what you can expect from your FUT hair transplant surgery. It's equally important to discuss all the possible side effects of a hair transplant surgery and how you can reduce these risks. Learn everything there is to know about balding treatments so that you can make an informed decision.