A full head of hair is a symbol of youth and good health, and hair loss can cause unwanted changes to a person’s appearance, resulting in self-consciousness and a loss of confidence. While hair loss is generally a cosmetic condition, there may be underlying medical issues that result in thinning and balding of the scalp. Medical doctors can assess a person’s health, and may then refer the patient to a plastic surgeon for further intervention. One of the most effective surgeries available today for hair transplantation is follicular unit transplant (FUT), where a patient’s hair own hair is relocated to an area of loss. The surgical team at the Charlotte, NC practice, Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery, Andrea Garcia, M.D. and Josh Surowitz, M.D., collaborate to expertly perform follicular unit transplants.
What is an FUT?
A follicular unit transplant is a surgical procedure where a strip of skin containing a healthy hair supply is removed from the scalp, and the hairs are prepared and transferred to areas with less hair. This procedure is sometimes referred to as the “strip method,” because hair is harvested from an actual strip of skin removed from the scalp. The tissue is typically excised from the back of the head, sometimes spanning to the sides of the scalp, since hair in these locations often resists the hormonal changes that lead to thinning and loss. The hairs undergo microscopic dissection to prepare them for implantation. FUT is considered a more traditional method of hair restoration, and has been performed successfully for years.
Compared to other methods of surgical hair restoration, the biggest benefit of undergoing FUT is that several hairs can be placed at a time, and the results offer natural-looking improvement. A larger amount of hair is available during FUT surgery, and the doctors may be able to transplant more hairs that are of higher quality during the procedure. The treatment is more extensive, and can achieve results during a single procedure.
Combining FUT and FUE Methods for Hair Transplant
Follicular unit transplant can be combined with follicular unit excision (FUE) when incorporating these two methods will result in the best aesthetic outcome. The single unit excision allows the doctors to harvest hair from other areas of the scalp that may not be possible through the traditional strip method. Finer hairs at the hairline and smaller areas of thinning or balding can be treated with the single-unit FUE method.
Browse our gallery of patient before-and-after photos to see examples of our results. Additional before-and-after results are also available for review at the time of consultation.
Because the plastic surgeon creates the incision during strip harvest, he or she may be able to cut the scalp in such a way that it produces minor scarring. There are also special methods, like trichophytic closures where the area can be trimmed and manipulated prior to closure so hair grows in the opposite direction through the scar tissue. The removal of tissue will still leave a linear scar on the scalp but it can be camouflaged in the hair, and scar revision surgery or other treatments may decrease the visibility of the line. Even in patients who are prone to scarring, other treatments can be performed at the surgical site to ensure the best healing conditions.
Another way to address the linear scar that results from a FUT hair transplant is to undergo FUE, or single-unit hair grafts over the scar. By removing the scar tissue and implanting hair in the area, the scar tissue will be broken up and hair will be restored to the site of the surgery. This is ideal for patients with light-colored hair, those who like to wear their hair in shorter styles that are closer to the scalp, and in patients who underwent a previous FUT procedure by another doctor that left a large incision in the scalp.
Some things to consider with the FUT method of hair restoration are the extent of the patient’s hair loss and the condition of the skin of the scalp. Patients must have sufficient remaining hair for a follicular unit transplant to be successful. The skin must also have a certain amount of elasticity, because once the skin of the harvest site is excised, the scalp must be sutured or stapled together. This creates some tension on the surrounding skin.
Post-Operative Care After FUT
Because patients may be sedated during the FUT procedure, they are unable to drive themselves home from the appointment and must have a pre-arranged ride waiting for their release. The doctors may fit the patient with a bandage to protect the surgical harvest site and the implant areas. The bandaging may be removed or changed at the doctors’ discretion.
Dr. Andrea Garcia and Dr. Josh Surowitz are dual board certified surgeons.
The hair can generally be gently washed 24 hours after a FUT hair transplant, and a special hair care regimen may be provided or recommended. It is recommended that patients sleep with their head slightly elevated to lessen swelling for the first few post-operative days. They should also avoid excess movement and bending over for at least 48 hours for the same precautions. Over the next few days, patients may notice a tingling or itchy sensation of the scalp, which can be controlled with pain medications and a spray bottle of saline solution. This keeps the area comfortable and hydrated for optimal healing.
Patients should eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water, but must avoid alcohol and certain vitamins and medications for the first few days following the procedure, as it can interfere with anesthesia and medications and may cause bleeding. Patients may ice the donor site over a bandage, but should take care not to apply to cold compress to the recipient site. Dr. Garcia and Dr. Surowitz can provide more specific information on recovery during the doctor-patient consultation, and following follicular unit transplant. Patients will typically visit the office in about a week so the doctors can assess the healing process and remove and stitches or staples in the harvest area.
FAQs about FUT
Is FUT the preferred method of hair restoration?
Follicular unit transplant is one of the original methods of hair transplant surgery, and for some patients it is the best way to restore the look of a full head of hair. FUT is generally reserved for those who have more extensive hair loss. There are some advantages to undergoing FUT, including a single procedure to achieve maximum results and the viability of a greater number of follicles for transplant.
I began losing hair around my hair line in my mid 20's. I was so excited to hear with this simple procedure, I could regain that thinning area! I am 100% satisfied with my results. I am no longer thinning in that area and it looks great! And real! Dr. Surowitz is very professional and skilled at his craft. He also has an amazing team that makes you feel comfortable and safe. You are in good hands!*
How does FUT differ from FUE?
FUT is referred to as the strip method, where a strip of skin is removed from the back and sometimes sides of the scalp to provide hairs for less densely populated areas of scalp. The hairs are transplanted in groups and the success rate for the hairs is generally high. FUE is performed by punching out the skin around individual strands of hair to transplant new hair follicle by follicle. The collection sites are more varied in FUE, but the procedure must be performed in 2-3 sessions.
Will FUT provide permanent results?
Both women and men can be affected by hormonal changes that lead to pattern baldness. Follicular unit transplant is a lifetime solution for both male and female pattern baldness because it utilizes hair from the permanent zone of growth to replace that which has been lost. Hormones that affect the follicles in pattern baldness tend to spare those in the back of the head. Once the healthy follicles have been transplanted to other areas, they will remain indefinitely, producing full hair growth.
How long does it take to undergo FUT surgery?
Generally, a hair restoration specialist and surgical team may require up to 10 hours to perform an FUT hair transplant. Because Dr. Garcia and Dr. Surowitz work together, they may be able to complete procedures in less time. During the patient’s consultation, different procedures and their projected times will be discussed.
The Two-Doctor Surgical Team
Charlotte facial plastic surgeons, Dr. Andrea Garcia and Dr. Josh Surowitz offer a unique approach to patient care. The doctors operate together during many patient surgeries and partner together on other treatment plans. Each doctor holds two board certifications and brings years of education, training, and experience to the practice.
To learn more about hair transplant surgery in Charlotte, NC, contact Dilworth Facial Plastic Surgery at (980) 949-6544 or initiate an Online Consultation today.