Seven Side Effects of a Hair Transplant
- Temporary thinning of your hair. This is also called “shock loss” and “shedding.” Sometimes the hair that is not transplanted is “shocked” and falls out. Some people experience bald spots, and some just experience thinning. Some people only experience shedding, which is the normal loss of 50-100 hairs a day that we all experience. In addition, the transplanted hair almost always falls out after transplantation. What happens, both to the transplanted hair and to the shocked areas, is that the hair follicles suddenly go into telogen, or a resting state. After a few months, they enter anagen, or the normal growth cycle for hair. Most of the time, all lost hair grows back. It is important to note that the hair from the donor site will be thinner than before. Hair transplant does not change the total number of hairs on your head; it just redistributes them.
- Swelling. Most people experience swelling of their scalp after surgery, and it often includes the forehead and sometimes even the eyes. This is temporary, and usually subsides in a few days. Sometimes the doctor will prescribe something to decrease the swelling.
- Itching. Itching is fairly common after hair transplant, and it can be severe. It’s usually due to scab formation, and you cold have a thousand or more tiny scabs. Most hair transplant surgeons say that shampooing should help the itching. One patient recommended spraying your head with water from a water bottle. Before having a hair transplant, you might ask your surgeon if it’s okay to use anti-itch creams, oils or lotions on your scalp after the transplant. A moisturizing oil may help with the itching.
- Hiccoughs. Nobody knows why hair transplant patients experience hiccoughs, but about 5% do. Usually, it’s only a minor annoyance, but it can be serious enough to be uncomfortable and to keep you from sleeping. If so, the surgeon can prescribe medication that should help stop the hiccoughs. In any case, they should disappear after a day or two.
- Infection. Infection is, thankfully, rare. Many hair transplant surgeons give you antibiotics before and after surgery to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics for it.
- Scarring. Scarring occurs only with strip transplants. Some people have a genetic predisposition toward excessive scarring. Keloid scars can be unsightly, especially if you wear your hair short. Often, people will have scars from previous transplant procedures. The scars can be revised by a plastic surgeon, and hair can be transplanted into the scarred area to hide it further.
- Cysts. Cysts occur when hair follicles are damaged or when they are pushed deeper into the skin layer. Transplant surgeons say cysts are small, pimple-sized bumps. Patients who have them call them lumps and bumps. Some people say they can be bad enough to be disfiguring if you wear your hair short. It is important to understand all the possible consequences and side effects before you have any surgery, and hair transplant is no exception. Ask your doctor to discus how he or she deals with side effects when they occur, and ask to speak to patients who have had these problems. That will give you the best chance of avoiding serious problems after your hair transplant.
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