Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
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Follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is a modern method of hair restoration that can improve and rebuild hairlines that have been impacted by androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as age-related hair loss. Despite its prevalence among both middle-aged men and women, research regarding the cause of hair loss remains inconclusive and a solution remains elusive.
Hair transplantation surgery is the number one way to combat the effects of androgenetic alopecia and completely transform a balding head of hair. At Arocha Hair Restoration and Transplant Center, Dr. Arocha regularly performs FUT for his patients interested in restoring their hair using the latest in modern treatment options.
How Hair Loss Affects the Scalp
Hair loss occurs when dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone present in both men and some women, disrupts the natural growth cycle of hair follicles. DHT induces miniaturization in the affected follicles, causing the hair strands to become thin and grow more slowly until the follicles stop hair production altogether.
For male patients, hair loss is localized to the top and front of the scalp, leaving hair located on the back and sides of the head mostly intact. For a yet to be discovered reason, hair follicles on the back and sides of the scalp are more DHT-resistant and generally survive the natural progression of hair loss. FUT takes advantage of this natural resiliency by harvesting hair follicles from the back and sides of the scalp via strip removal. The follicles are then transplanted into the balding areas of the scalp for natural results.
Women tend to experience more diffused hair loss throughout the entire scalp, meaning they do not benefit from DHT-resistant follicles. Dr. Arocha evaluates his female patients on a case-by-case basis to determine if they are good candidates for FUT or would benefit more from a different procedure or treatment method.
The FUT Procedure
FUT is completed using local anesthesia to numb the scalp. Once the patient has been numbed, Dr. Arocha removes a strip of hair from a predetermined location along the back or sides of the scalp. He then sutures the scalp shut using dissolvable stitches to close the excision.
Once the strip has been removed, Dr. Arocha’s highly trained technicians dissect the hair follicles from the surrounding tissue under a microscope. With this precise method, more than 98 percent of the hair follicles survive the harvesting process, creating a greater yield of follicular units for transplantation.
The harvested follicular units are then implanted in the scalp one-by-one, with great care taken to mimic and replicate the natural growth patterns of the surrounding hair making sure to place only finely trimmed single hair follicular units in the frontal hairline for ultimate naturalness. Results are seamless and blend right in, avoiding the common pitfalls of older techniques that used the outdated hair plug method. The procedure may take between four and six hours on average, depending on the amount of grafts needed to produce the desired results.
FUT is completed on an outpatient basis, meaning patients are free to return home the same day as the procedure. Side effects of the surgery include scalp redness, swelling and tenderness. Most side effects disappear within a few weeks, and Dr. Arocha provides specific post-surgery instructions to ensure his patients experience a comfortable and successful recovery. Care needs to be taken in the first few weeks of recovery not to touch or rub the scalp, as friction can cause the newly-transplanted grafts to fall out, harming results.
Patients should plan on taking three to five days off from work and other regular activities to give their body plenty of rest as it heals. While patients are free to resume working after a few days of recovery, they may wish to spend more time at home as their noticeable side effects diminish. Exercise and more strenuous activities may be resumed in two to three weeks.
The sutured incision from the scalp removal will take several weeks to completely heal. The resulting scar will fade into a horizontal white line in about six to nine months. Dr. Arocha always takes great care to perform the strip removal in an area of the scalp that can be easily hidden by surrounding hair growth. Once the incision heals and hair grows over it, the scar will not be noticeable, and patients can enjoy their results without worrying about unsightly scarring.
FUT is a process that requires some patience before receiving optimal results. The transplanted hair will fall out about three weeks into recovery, as the follicles shed their strands and settle into their new location. New hair growth may not be visible until at least three to five months out, with noticeable results developing around nine months after the procedure.
Final results usually occur around 12 to 16 months following surgery, with patients enjoying their full, thick hair for years to come. While FUT provides one of the most effective and lasting treatment methods for androgenetic alopecia, it does not completely stop the gradual effects of hair loss. Original, native hair not yet affected by DHT will continue to thin out over time, which is why Dr. Arocha advocates for a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medication and regular hair loss treatments to complement hair transplants.
Arocha Hair Restoration and Transplant Center
At Arocha Hair Restoration and Transplant Center, we provide all manner of hair restoration treatment options. If hair loss has stripped you of your self-confidence and you are seeking a long-lasting and effective solution for balding and thinning hair, then schedule a consultation with Dr. Arocha to discuss FUT. Call us today at 713-526-HAIR or 713-526-4247 to book your appointment.