What precautions should one take after a hair transplant?
Hair transplant surgery is a turning point in cosmetic surgery that has changed a lot of lives. But while we focus on the actual surgery so much, we forget to keep in mind what happens
after the surgery.
After-care is just as essential and ensures the surgery’s success. Receiving a hair transplant can enhance your looks and self-confidence. We take scalp and beard hair for the transplant depending upon the need of the patient and grade of baldness. If you are a person with male pattern baldness, a woman with thinning hair, or anyone who has lost hair from a scalp injury or burn, you are the perfect candidate.
Before we go into post-operation care, let’s know about what happens during the surgery for a better understanding.
In a Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT):
Your hair transplant surgeon with a scalpel will cut out a strip of scalp skin from the back of the head. The incision is typically several inches long then closed with stitches. Do not worry, of course; this is done under anaesthesia and after sterilising your scalp and hair.
Then the surgeon makes the extracted portion of your scalp into small sections then implanted to gain natural-looking hair growth.
In Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE):
The hair follicles are cut out right from the back of the head by a punching method. These are several hundred or thousands of spot-incisions. Then the grafts are placed in these holes. A hair transplant session can need four hours or more, and your surgeon will remove the stitches about ten days after surgery.
The patient can return to work after two days of the hair transplant in the FUE procedure, but it takes several days to recover in the FUT procedure. After about two to three weeks, your hair will fall out to make way for new hair growth.
The number of sessions:
You may require three or four sessions to achieve the head full of hair you desire. Sessions happen several months apart to allow each transplant to heal fully. Of course, this will depend on how you treat your scalp after the surgery and what’s your surgery goal.
Let’s move on the main objective: The post-operative care.
To prevent and minimise side effects like bleeding, infection, swelling of the scalp, bruising around the eyes, a crusty scalp, numbness or lack of sensation on the treated areas of the scalp. Side-effects could provide serious barriers to your healing process and lead to complications if you do not ensure excellent and proactive after-care.
First, immediately post-op, the patient leaves the clinic with a bandaged head. The patient has been provided with a saline spray and asked to spray on the transplanted area after every 30 minutes to an hour for the first 12 hours with mineral or sterilised room temperature water. You must spray vigorously for around five days and ensure that the transplanted area has been made wet.
Do not touch the transplanted hair at all. You have to do this to prevent scab formation and to keep your scalp hydrated and nourished. Once you have finished the twelve hours of spraying, sleep for a few hours. Stay hydrated and eat normally. Remember to not drive or exert yourself after the surgery. Take antibiotics or pain-killer medicines given to you.
The patient is recommended to take rest for the first two days and should ideally lie down to avoid swelling on the face. The patient can sleep on his back or side but not on his stomach on day 2 and 3. The donor area dressing should be removed by the patient. You should clean the donor area with betadine scrub and apply a topical antibiotic in the morning and evening.
On day 3 and 4:
The surgeon will advise the patient to shave the beard in case beard grafts are used. The patient should apply sunscreen on the beard donor area and take sun protection for the next month at least, to avoid pigmentation.
From day 4 to 14:
The doctor will recommend the patient to start head wash as per specific instructions. The patient should wash hair using any baby shampoo or a medicated shampoo, or the shampoo that has been ordered by your doctor. All you need to do is use about 10ml of the prescribed shampoo diluted with lukewarm water, on your head, particularly on the grafted area and leave it on for 5 minutes. Rinse it with lukewarm water to clean the grafted area. Wash your hair twice, daily as it will slowly remove scabs over the next 5 to 6 days.
Once all the scabs are gone, the patient can resume a regular shower. Allow your hair to dry naturally and avoid using towels, or blow-dryers. Nothing should disturb the scalp area, or the grafts will be disturbed. You may continue spraying the donor area to get rid of the itchiness.
Between day 7 to 10:
Your surgeon will remove the stitches. Attend all follow-up sessions with the clinic as your doctor needs to keep a look-out for infections.
After day 14:
It is advisable to start using Rogaine after day 14 to enhance your hair growth. It should be used at night only in the transplanted area, usually for about six months or continuously post-operation. Again, it depends on you and your body’s needs. If your doctor says yes, you can return to your regular hair washing regimen. Wash your hair with whichever shampoo your doctor prescribes, to remove any crustiness on the scalp.
Your doctor will recommend avoiding strenuous physical activity for four weeks post-op. No gymming, swimming, cycling, tennis, golf, heavy-weight lifting and hill walking. It is to prevent any stretching of the scars and to maintain the blood pressure, especially in the head.
After 8 to 12 months after surgery, you can see new hair growth. Many doctors prescribe minoxidil or Rogaine, finasteride, also known as Propecia, to improve hair regrowth. These medications slow or stop future hair loss and maintain current hair levels. Supporting medicine depends on what your doctor thinks you require.
Keep these tips in mind, and you can have a successful journey. Wish you all the success for your hair transplant surgery.