This is a process primarily though not exclusively developed to treat male pattern hair loss. It involves harvesting hair follicles, or follicular units of 4 hairs at a time (FUT), or in a strip (Strip harvesting) from a donor site. The donor site is usually hair from the back of the head. It is then grafted on to a reception site such as the middle or front of the scalp. The reception site may also be the eyebrows, beard, chest, pubic area or other sites that have been scarred. This procedure is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
WHAT TO EXPECT
An initial consultation should address the client’s expectations, analysis of the scalp, and an explanation of the different potentially applicable processes. A pre-operative folliscopy measures and analyses existing hair density. Often a topical preparation called minoxidil is recommended.
Healthy living before and after the grafting is advised to maximise the chances of success. Prophylactic Antibiotics may be prescribed. The procedure usually lasts about six hours. The client may be offered sedation and will be given a local anaesthetic. The donor site is cleaned and treated with a bactericide.
Strip harvesting is the most common technique for removing hair and follicles from a donor site. A strip about 1–1.5 x 15–30 cm in size is excised from the back of the head. They are then transplanted in a predefined pattern in the reception site. Stitches are removed about 2 weeks’ after the treatment. FUT may take place either in a single long session or multiple small sessions and is more time-consuming than strip surgery. It can be done in many separate sessions or a mega-session over two days with 2,500 to 3,000 grafts taking place.
The vulnerable recipient area must be shielded from the sun, and shampooing is started two days after the surgery. “Shock loss” usually occurs where all the transplanted hair falls out and grows back in 3 to 4 months.
Particularly with FUT there are usually natural-looking results. Strip harvesting is less expensive but may be more noticeable.
Potential side effects include swelling of areas such as the scalp and forehead. If this becomes uncomfortable, medication may ease the swelling.