Hair transplantation is a medical procedure where active hair follicles are transplanted from one area of the scalp to the bald part (1). It produces natural-looking results and can help treat alopecia (2), (3), (4). However, you must also know about hair transplant side effects before going for it (5). Keep reading to know everything about the hair transplant surgery and the risks involved.
In This Article
Hair Transplant How It Works And Types
Hair transplant is a hair restoration surgery done by a seasoned cosmetic surgeon. Active hair follicles from the scalp or any body parts are transplanted to the bald areas of the scalp. The active hair follicles produce the most natural-looking hair in the bald area.
There are two types of hair transplantation Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) (6):
- Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) This procedure involves placing the extracted follicular units in the recipient scalp. This requires precision as the punches for the follicular units need to be placed right. The punches should not be larger than the units.
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) This hair transplant procedure involves extracting the follicular units from the donor site. An area of healthy hair growth is opened, and some follicular units are taken from there. With the help of special micro punches, the units are implanted in the bald area.
It takes almost an hour to remove less than 100 follicular units. With that in mind, let’s now take a look at some serious hair transplant risks.
Side Effects Of Hair Transplant
- Hair Shedding
Excessive hair shedding is a common side effect of hair transplantation. Due to vascular disruption and surgical trauma, the donor area (where the active hair follicles are extracted) may experience hair thinning. Hair shedding is greater in Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) than Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) as the graft is larger. Moreover, FUE causes permanent hair shedding, whereas FUT reverses hair shedding after surgery downtime.
Whether you get FUE or FUT, there are bound to be cuts. The doctor ensures that bleeding is minimal. However, you may also experience bleeding during the post-operative hair transplant recovery time.
Scarring or sterile folliculitisi XA common skin condition characterized by the infection of tiny pockets in the skin (follicles) from where hair grows. is common in some people who undergo hair transplantation. The scars can also make the surgery visible. In a study, 23% of patients were affected with sterile folliculitis after hair restoration surgery (7).
Lichen planopilaris (LLP) is a rare inflammatory hair disorder and an extreme version of sterile folliculitis. It can even lead to permanent alopecia and replacement of hair follicles with scar-like fibrous tissue (8).
Infections may occur near the site of the suturesi XA stitch or rows of stitches made to join together the edges of an open wound or surgical incisions. . Epidermal cysts may also occur, which needs occasional drainage (9). Poor scalp hygiene can lead to localized infections in donor and recipient areas (5).
Hair transplantation is an invasive surgery that can cause pain if the anesthesia is not administered in the right dose. During post-operative recovery, you might also feel a stretching sensation.
Swelling or edemai XSwelling caused by too much fluid trapped in the body's tissues and can affect any part of the body. is common in people undergoing hair transplantation. You may experience swelling around the eyes and forehead. It can be severe sometimes and make the eye appear darker.
The formation of scabs at the site of the transplantation can cause itching. However, the itching of the scalp will stop after the initial days of the surgery.
Note: If you use minoxidil, stop its usage until the area heals.
Numbness may occur due to local anesthesia or if hair transplantation is done by inexperienced hands, leading to nerve damage. When the anesthesia wears off, the numbness reduces.
These are the side effects of hair transplantation. However, do not get all sweaty yet. Consult your doctor before deciding for or against it. What you can do is check if you are an ideal candidate for hair transplantation. Scroll down to know more.
Ideal Candidate For Hair Transplantation
- Age: If you are above 25 years of age, you are probably a good candidate for hair transplantation.
- Hair Caliber/Diameter: If your hair has a larger shaft diameter or thicker caliber, you will get denser coverage through hair transplantation.
- Donor Hair Density: If the donor site has 80 follicle units (FU) per square centimeter, you can opt for hair transplantation.
- Degree Of Baldness: If the baldness is severe, you might not be the ideal candidate for hair transplantation, as only some areas can be covered.
- Expectations: If you have realistic expectations of the treatment and are undergoing treatment with minoxidil or other hair growth medicines, you are an ideal candidate for hair transplantation.
There are other effective, partially invasive, and non-invasive methods for growing your hair. Take a look at those hair treatment options below.
Other Hair Growth Treatment Options
- PRP Treatment: Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment is a regenerative method for hair loss. It is a partially invasive hair growth treatment. Platelets from your blood are separated and injected at the balding site to help stimulate the follicles and lead to hair growth.
- Laser Light Treatment: Laser light treatment or Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is an FDA-approved treatment for male and female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). It is non-invasive and painless. Click here for the benefits, limitations, and costs of this procedure.
Note: Consult a dietitian for a well-balanced diet as a healthy lifestyle is important to help stimulate hair growth and reduce hair fall.
Last but not least, there’s another drawback to hair transplantation. Scroll down to know more.
Hair Transplant Cost
A hair transplant might cost $1500 and above. It also comes with various side effects and requires 3-4 weeks of recovery time. On the other hand, PRP treatment costs around $1500 to $3000, and it has almost no side effects. Laser treatment costs $1600 to $5000, depending on whether you use at-home equipment or visit a clinic.
Infographic: Tips To Reduce Hair Fall Naturally
Hair transplantation is a medical treatment used for hair regrowth. While it is an effective treatment, it may cause swelling, hair shedding, and pain. But the good news is that you can follow certain strategies to reduce hair fall naturally. Check out the infographic below to know more.
The side effects of hair transplantation are not very well-known. This procedure is performed by a cosmetic surgeon, and it involves active hair follicles being transplanted from the active area to the bald area. However, hair transplant side effects like hair shedding, bleeding, scarring, inflammation, infections, pain, swelling, itching, and numbness may occur. Therefore, it is always safe to check whether you are an ideal candidate for a hair transplant. Age, hair quality, degree of baldness, and donor hair density determine the effectiveness of hair transplantation. You can also opt for PRP and or laser light treatment as hair growth treatment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the hair last after transplant?
After a transplant, the new hairline is visible, and the transplanted hair starts falling after 4-6 weeks.
How long does it take to recover from a hair transplant?
It takes about 3-4 weeks to recover from a hair transplant.
What should not be done after a hair transplant?
Avoid washing your hair for 48 hours after hair transplantation. After 48 hours, use a mild shampoo and be gentle while massaging the scalp. Do not dye your hair or sleep on the side of the transplant. Avoid wearing helmets and caps. Do not sit under the sun or apply ice directly on the hair transplantation site.
Which is better – FUE or FUT hair transplant?
FUE leads to more hair shedding than FUT post hair transplantation surgery. Let your doctor decide which method would suit you the best.
Is hair transplant permanent?
Yes, a hair transplant is intended to be permanent. It typically lasts the rest of your life.
What is the failure rate of hair transplants?
In contrast to non-scarring alopecia (> 90%), hair transplantation in cases of scarring alopecia has lower graft survival rates (50%) (3).
Do hair transplants turn gray?
Hair transplants turn gray once the hair of the donor area does. Rarely, the treatment may cause some transplanted hair to age prematurely, but it will not have an impact on the longevity or general health of the hair.
What is the success rate of a hair transplantation?
The hair transplant success rate depends on various factors like the expertise of the surgeon, the technique used, the quality and quantity of the donor hair, and the individual’s overall health.
- In a hair transplant, active hair follicles are taken from the body or scalp and placed in the bald area.
- There are two main types of hair transplants: follicular unit extractions and follicular unit transplantation.
- Hair transplants may cause side effects, such as hair shedding, scarring, inflammation, infections, and swelling.
Hair transplantation can be a great solution for hair loss, but does it come with any side effects? Find out in this video!
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