The FUT hair transplant procedure involves surgically removing a thin strip of hair from the back of the head at the base of the neck, dividing the grafts, and relocating the hair follicles to the top and front of the head. The doctor performs this removal process. The hair at the back of the head is resistant to the chemical dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Because of this it is resistant to falling out of the scalp. This is why we often see men with only a wreath of hair at the back and sides of the head.
After the application of a local anesthetic, the doctor will proceed with hair transplant surgery. This starts with the removal of a small strip of hair at the back of the head from the “donor” area. The incision will be secured with sutures. The wound will quickly heal, and while it will leave a minor scar, this will be hidden by the hair at the back of the head which falls down over the scar area.
The doctor will then instruct his surgical team precisely how to divide the grafts. The strip is then dissected into very small follicular units or hair group grafts. These grafts may contain 1, 2, 3, 4 or more hairs. Each of these units is essentially an organ. They have a blood supply, are chemically regulated like other organs of the body and when transplanted will quickly return to homeostasis.
The doctor will then create small slits in the area in which the grafts will be transplanted. This involves both artistry and technical skill. The slits (or receptor sites) are created in such a way as to re-create the natural hair growth pattern. The specific depth, angle, direction, size and width are crucial to proper placement and growth of the transplanted hair. This is by far the most critical and time-consuming phase of the procedure.
Following this the doctor will supervise the placement and relocation of the grafts to the receptor area. It is important to note that the grafts can only be placed into the receptor site one way, similar to a square peg being fit into a square hole.
The relocation process is minimally invasive and is a minor surgical procedure, not much different from having a filling placed by the dentist. While there may be some discomfort during and after hair transplant surgery, there is rarely serious pain involved. Patients are awake and alert during the entire procedure and they can have a friend or spouse present.