Post-operative care after a hair transplant procedure

What to Do (and What Not to Do!)

by George Georgiou, Hair Transplant Consultant at HDC

Every person that has gone through a hair transplant procedure will know and can vouch that is a simple surgery in the hands of clinics that can master these techniques and have plenty advice for newbies.

You researched and researched; you weighted your options and finally had that long-awaited hair transplant. You are just out of surgery, ready to go home and start growing hair! After all that anticipation, slow down a bit and think about what may help to ensure the best possible outcome. It is paramount that you follow the post op instructions you’ve been given; consider that a lot of thought from experts has been put into developing a set of guidelines for patients after a hair transplant procedure.

Whether you are rich or not, you have still paid out a generous amount of your hard earned cash and expect a good result. The surgeon and his team have performed a meticulous and demanding procedure in front of your very eyes over several hours sometimes days. So now that he ball in your court, or head, you should do everything in your power to tip the scales in your favour.

Ask the clinic to send you the post operative care instructions before hand and read several times; try to familiarize yourself with the proposed post op regime and note down any questions that pop to mind. You will probably not have the energy to digest the information given to you by your surgeon during the surgery and the last thing on your mind will be a list of questions to ask. This is only natural even for the most pedantic person to plan for, because of the excitement of the surgery and the sedation you may receive.

Your surgeon may supply or instruct you to take pain relief medication, but it is unlikely that these will be needed for more than two or three days. In most cases all it will take is basic over the counter medication containing paracetamol or codeine. Mild sedatives may also be used to help you sleep for the first couple of nights. As for the first three nights you are required to sleep almost sitting up, with your head elevated on pillows to 45°, sleeping tablets will help to relax you, as certainly this position is not a favourite one for a good night’s sleep . This is required to aid in preventing swelling, which is the first and most common side effect after the hair transplant procedure.

Keeping the scalp clean by regular washing is important after the surgery, starting on the second day after the procedure. Shampooing helps remove dirt, blood and oil, and will gently dislodge scabs that have formed in the recipient area. The scalp should be clear from them within 7-8 days. Proper hygiene will also help prevent infection and will promote the normal shedding of the transplanted grafts that will take place before their new growth phase begins.

Straight after the procedure and until the first wash, you must keep the recipient area moist preferably by spaying with saline solution. This promotes healing and can decrease the tendency in the area to itch. You should contain yourself from scratching the area to relieve the itching, if you absolutely must, tap gently with the heel of your palm. Another trick is to try and scratch (with care!) somewhere else, like the inside of your arm.

You will find and there may be a similar issue in the donor area and this will vary depending if you had FUT or FUE . Saline can also be spayed liberally on the donor are to relieve itching. But you are at more liberty to scratch here as you are unlikely to cause any major trauma. You will be given specific instructions and maybe products to use in the donor area according to the regime your surgeon has devised. As the FUE method involves no major incision, the healing is quite simple. Both are likely to involve the use of antiseptic cream or spay.

What to Expect

Shock loss, or telogen effluvium, is a possible side effect after a hair transplant procedure. This involves temporary hair loss occurring in the area near the recipient incisions and will affect your existinbg hair. This may also be noticed in the donor area and it will manifest at 2-3 port procedure. When terminal hair is lost, it will grow back after it has followed it’s a normal resting phase.

You should also plan you public appearances in advance and whether you can wear head gear like a hat and not look out of place. You need to bear in mind that you are likely to have a swollen forehead for a few days after the transplant and if you don’t try and contain it in you may end up looking like an extra from a Rocky movie. Swelling is perfectly normal and when you treat it with ice packs you should get rid of it with 2-3 days after the procedure.

The most contested instruction after the procedure is the limitation in physical activity, as most people feel fine after the procedure. You will be asked to refrain from heavy manual tasks for 5-7 days post op. The reason is during physical activity is that blood circulation is restricted to skin and scalp as it diverts to muscles. After any surgery, even minor like a hair transplant, you should rest afterwards. In most cases, you will be able to return to your lifestyle, exercise regime and social habits within a fortnight after the procedure.

If your hair loss continues to progress over the years, you may eventually see patches where transplanted hair remains while other surrounding hair is lost. You will need to decide, at this point, whether you want to have more hair transplanted, have previously transplanted hair redistributed or let it run its natural course.

HDC Hair Transplant Clinic, undertakes the commitment to treat you as an individual and fully inform you of all your options. We pay attention to detailed planning as we want to assure the satisfaction of all our patients. A great advantage visiting HDC from overseas, is that you will stay with us at the clinic’s guest accommodation, where we can look after you in the first days just after your surgery, ensure you understand the post operative regime we propose and carry out all our instruction.

If you wish to get advice on your hair loss or hair replacement options, please fill up our online form.


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