FUT or Strip hair transplant is an old hair transplant method that restores hair loss. It initiated in the 90’s and it spread quickly worldwide. Lately, it is recorded a rapid withdrawn of the FUT –Strip hair transplant application as the minimally invasive FUE hair transplant method expands. This is happening because the results of the FUE hair transplant technique are very impressive. Moreover, FUE technique does not lead to the unpleasant consequences of FUT. Thanks to the advancement in FUE technique it is possible the extraction of a large number of hair follicles – a fact that during the previous years was solely capable with FUT hair transplant method. This fact was actually the main advantage of FUT – Strip technique.
FUT – Strip hair transplant results
The main stages regarding FUT- Strip hair transplant procedure are the following ones:
- Design of the donor area’s strip that will be used as a transplant. The strip width ranges usually from 1 to 2 cm, so that the difficulty in the closure of the surgical wound is eliminated. Furthermore, in this way the possibility of creating a dysmorhic wound is avoided. The strip is usually taken from the scalp’s occipital area and it is extended from the one outer ear (pinna) to the other.
- Application of local anesthesia along the strip. A lidocaine and adrenaline combination is frequently used.
- Strip’s detachment. It is performed by an incision that extends from both sides up to the subcutaneous fat. Then the strip is detached from the subcutaneous fat by using scalpel or scissors. At this stage, great attention is needed to avoid the creation of a deep skin incision and a possible destruction of the area’s sensory nerves as there lies the danger of postoperative hyperesthesia in the area above the strip or even the creation of a painful neuroma. Furthermore, a meticulous hemostasis after strip’s removal is required as the area is full of vessels. Otherwise, there lies the risk of a postoperative haematoma or even the wound’s decomposition.
- Wound’s suturing. It is usually carried out in layers. Subcutaneous absorbable stitches are being used in the deep layers of the skin. Nylon stitches or endodermic consecutive stitches are being used for the upper skin layers’ suturing. Recently, it is being applied the most advanced suturing technique, trichophytic closure, as it enables the approximation of the epidermal edges allowing hair growth in the scar for an optimal and cosmetically acceptable result.
- Grafts’ processing. After the strip has been detached, it is handed to the surgeon’s team of assistants. The strip is gradually cut into pieces so as grafts of appropriate diameter occur. A major disadvantage of FUT – Strip method is that the majority of hair transplant professionals produce grafts consisting of 5-10 hairs (minigrafts), thus big enough for implantation purposes. As a consequence this produces extremely unnatural results, especially when those big grafts are implanted in areas such as the head’s forefront and hairline. On the contrary, very few cases are those during which grafts containing 1-4 hairs (micrografts) that resemble the natural hair follicles can be isolated.
- Hair follicles implantation. The majority of doctors and clinics that apply FUT – Strip technique, perform graft’s implantation by applying the old technique: Receptions are being created with the use of scalpel or needle. Afterwards the grafts are being implanted in the receptions by using forceps. The disadvantage of this technique is that is a bloody procedure and it leads to serious postoperative swelling and scarring of the donor area.
FUT Hair Transplant Results
The surgical team’s experience and skill set play a decisive role in the success rate of a FUT-Strip hair transplant. Those results can be excellent in terms of density. On the contrary, especially in the area of hairline, FUT – Strip method does not provide a natural-looking result as FUE method does. This happens mostly because FUT-Strip method leads to large sized grafts that do not resemble with the natural, thin, one-haired follicles that originally exist in hairline. As androgenic alopecia is an evolving phenomenon it might necessitate a second hair transplant operation in the future. In the case that a FUT – Strip hair transplant has been performed in the past, the application of a future operation might be a challenging action. The fact that there should take place creation of a second – parallel to the first – incision (double-cut incision) or an expansion of the existing incision, might worsen the already existing aesthetic problem.
The major disadvantage of FUT technique is the creation of permanent and dysmorphic scars in the donor area. Moreover, it is quite common the existence of a chronic hyperesthesia and/or painful neuromas located in the scar’s area. At least 5 – 10% of those patients who have undergone an FUT strip hair transplant, have reported chronic pains in the scar’s area post-operatively. Additionally hyperesthesia in the scar’s area is observed in a 20 – 25 percentage of the patients who have undergone a hair transplant applied with FUT technique. Moreover, when multiple FUT hair transplants take place the probability of complications’ existence is significantly increased. An additional drawback of FUT technique is that due to strip’s processing hair follicles are “injured”, thus limiting the survival of the transplanted follicles. The creation of receptions intensifies the bleeding, swelling and pain. Furthermore, the transplantation of large sized grafts leads to an unpleasant aesthetic result, phenomenon known as doll-like effect.
It is quite common, patients who have had FUT-Strip hair transplant address specialised plastic surgeons so as to restore or eliminate the dysmorphy of the scars. It is essential to underline the fact that in Advanced Hair Clinics, a percentage of 35 – 40% of patients that undergo an FUE hair transplant have experienced FUT hair transplant in the past. Those patients trust Advanced Hair Clinics so as to increase hair density or in order to create a natural-looking hairline. Furthermore a 15 – 20% of the FUT hair transplant cases require scars’ restoration as they are quite dysmorphic and visible. Consequently, the application of FUT – Strip hair transplant has reduced internationally.