The names “Strip” and “FUT” are used interchangeably and mean the exact same thing.
It is a procedure whereby:
- A strip of skin is painlessly and safely removed from the back of the head by a doctor under local anesthetic.
- The hair roots are then dissected out under microscopes by a team of medical technicians.
- These roots, called “follicular units” are then placed into tiny slits made by the doctor into the thinning and balding areas.
- These roots heal in their new positions and literally begin to produce growing hair starting at about 4 months.
- The area in the back of the head where the strip of skin was taken (known as the “donor area”) is simply stitched closed and heals leaving a linear scar that is easily and immediately concealed by the surrounding hair. Usually, this area may be “tapped” again for more hair if needed in the future.
This Strip procedure is known as the Gold Standard of hair transplantation and the main foundation of the hair transplant industry to this day. No other procedure provides the quality and consistency of growth that the Strip (FUT) procedure does.
While hair transplantation has been available since the 1960’s it largely took the form of plug surgery which was primitive by today’s standards. Results were unnatural, the procedures required long healing times, and the amount of hair that could be taken in a single sitting was severely limited. Large diameter punches were used to remove the donor hair which meant wide areas between the punch holes had to be left untouched for the skin to heal properly. It’s like having a huge wheat field but only being able to harvest it by skipping greater than 50% of any area. Very inefficient thus requiring multiple visits to achieve a cosmetically significant improvement.
To address this limitation pioneers like Dr. O’Tar Norwood, Dr. Bill Rassman, Dr. Bob Limmer, Dr. David Seager and others started to remove a long strip of skin from the back and then just stitch the remaining skin edges back together. This required greater skill and more staff than just punching out plugs, but it was well worth the effort. Far greater numbers of undamaged grafts could be obtained in a single sitting AND the donor area suffered less trauma and scarring. Instead of a checkerboard of scars in the donor area, as always seen in plug surgery, the Strip surgery procedure left a relatively thin line of scar that was easily covered by surrounding hair.
With so many new advantages, and elimination of so many old disadvantages, a worldwide industry was born.
Strip Method Takes World by Storm…
Before the invention of the Strip procedure the hair transplant business was really just a mom and pop operation performed primarily as a “side procedure”. Afterward, it became a worldwide industry. Details of Strip surgery circled the world like a firestorm and still continues to this day.
Birth of the ISHRS…
The demand for Strip hair transplants exploded. Medical societies were formed, like the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). Articles were written in peer reviewed journals, and even new textbooks were being written. Strip surgery had literally rewritten the book on hair transplantation and completely reshaped the surgical hair restoration landscape..
The Plug doctors were out and the Strip doctors were in- where they remain to this day.
Anything and everything you see, read, or learn about hair transplants today owes it’s direct origins to this incredible procedure and the pioneers who created and shared it.