Side Effects of Hair Transplant

June 11, 2024

Side Effects of Hair Transplant

A hair transplant is a very effective solution to restore hair, but like any surgical procedure, it has certain side effects.

The decision to undergo a hair transplant is a big one, so you need to be aware of what risks and side effects to expect during and after the procedure so that you will be able to make an informed decision about your hair restoration journey.

Short-term Side Effects of a Hair Transplant

Body’s reaction to the procedure

Local anesthesia is typically used to numb the scalp during a hair transplant. While this greatly reduces pain and discomfort, it can also cause side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and numbness in the scalp. This mainly comes from the psychological factors of the patient, such as fear and anxiety.

Some people have allergic reactions to certain anesthesia, so it should be tested in a small area of the skin before injecting it into the scalp.

An increase in the rate of heartbeat and fluctuations in blood pressure is also experienced by some patients. It is best to stay calm and relaxed during the procedure so that your body doesn't react adversely.

Pain and Discomfort

It's normal to experience mild pain and discomfort following a hair transplant procedure. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication to manage this. You must follow the prescribed dosage and not take any additional medication without consulting your surgeon. In addition, you may want to avoid activities that could increase pain or discomfort, such as strenuous exercise or exposure to excessive heat.

Swelling and Bruising

Swelling and bruising on the scalp and around the forehead and eyes are also common after a hair transplant procedure. This is a natural part of the healing process and should subside within a few days. To help reduce swelling, you may want to apply a cold compress to the affected areas. Be sure to follow your surgeon's instructions regarding the use of any medication or topical creams.

Itching and Tingling

You may experience itching and tingling in the scalp for a few days following the procedure. This is a sign that new hair is beginning to grow, which is a positive sign. However, you are required to be very patient and not scratch or rub the scalp, as this can damage the hair follicles and increase the risk of infection.

Bleeding and Crusting

Bleeding and crusting in the areas where hair follicles were transplanted are naturally expected after any type of surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to care for these areas to minimize the risk of infection and promote healing. Follow these instructions carefully to ensure the best possible outcome.

Numbness

Numbness in the scalp is a common side effect of the local anesthesia used during the hair transplant procedure. This is usually temporary and should resolve within a few days. However, if you experience prolonged numbness or any other unusual symptoms, be sure to contact your surgeon right away.

Scabbing and Peeling

Scabs may form on the scalp as part of the healing process after a hair transplant procedure. Don’t pick at these scabs however tempted you may feel, as this can increase the risk of infection and scarring. The scabs will eventually peel off on their own, usually within a week or two.

Shock Loss

Shock loss is a temporary loss of hair that may occur in the transplanted area or the surrounding areas following the procedure. This is a normal part of the healing process after hair transplantation. While it can be concerning to see hair falling out, don't be alarmed at all. Remember that this is a temporary side effect and the new hair will eventually grow.

Long-term Side Effects of a Hair Transplant

You must have already got the idea that most of the short-term side effects are part of the healing process. Those side effects should be expected just after the procedure.

But long-term side effects are purely the outcomes of some error that may have occurred before, during, or after the transplant. Ideally, a good hair transplant shouldn’t cause any side effects that last more than a few days or weeks at maximum. It can be the poor judgment of your body health, maybe the surgeon couldn’t keep his hands stable during the procedure, or you didn't pay attention to the post-surgery care instructions, it is you who is going to pay the price.

You should be well aware of the following long-term side effects of a hair transplant, so as not to have any hiccups in your hair restoration journey.

Scarring

Scarring is a bigger possibility in the FUT method as a strip of skin is cut out and stitching is involved. This scar cannot be completely covered but the hands of an expert surgeon can make the marks almost unnoticeable. The best way to avoid this scarring is to opt for the FUE method rather than FUT.

A FUE method isn’t expected to leave any scars. In some cases, scars may appear larger and more visible in the form of pinpoint scars at the donor site, mostly due to the incompetency of the surgeon. A good doctor extracts and implants so flawlessly that it's impossible to tell a transplant procedure.

After the procedure, follow your surgeon's instructions carefully and avoid any activities that could damage the scalp during the healing process to prevent scarring.

Infection

While infections after hair transplant surgery are rare, they can occur in some cases. The reason could be carelessness, either during or after the procedure. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, and discharge from the affected area. You should contact your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of infection. Treatment may include antibiotics and other medications as prescribed by your doctor to prevent the infection from spreading.

Uneven Hair Growth

In some cases, the hair may not grow as evenly as desired although this doesn't occur in the majority. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including uneven placement of hair follicles, poor blood flow to the scalp, or damage to the hair follicles during the transplant procedure.

Changes in Sensation

Changes in sensation, including numbness or tingling in the scalp, are common after a hair transplant procedure. While these changes are typically temporary and will resolve on their own within a few weeks, in some cases, they may be permanent. This can be concerning, especially if the changes in sensation are noticeable or affect daily activities.

Cyst Formation

Cyst formation is a rare but possible long-term side effect of a hair transplant. It occurs when small sacs of fluid form around the hair follicles, resulting in small bumps or cysts on the scalp. It can also occur if the grafts are buried into the scalp during the procedure. While most cysts will go away on their own, in some cases, they may become infected or cause scarring. If you notice any bumps or cysts on your scalp after a hair transplant, it's important to contact your surgeon right away.

Nerve Damage

Although rare, nerve damage is a possible long-term side effect of a hair transplant. This can occur if the surgeon accidentally damages a nerve during the transplant procedure. It is more probable in the FUT method than in FUE. Signs of nerve damage are numbness, tingling, and pain in the affected area.

Donor Area Depletion

Donor depletion is another potential long-term side effect of a hair transplant. It occurs when too many hair follicles are harvested from the donor area of the scalp, leaving the area depleted of healthy hair follicles. To prevent donor depletion, work with a qualified and experienced surgeon who can carefully assess the number of hair follicles that can be harvested safely from the donor area.

Permanent Hair Loss

Hair transplants are designed to restore hair growth.  Still, in some cases, the hair follicles may not take hold and permanent hair loss can occur. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor blood flow to the scalp or damage to the hair follicles during the transplant procedure. Transplanted hair falls if the grafts don't survive, just like the plants don't grow if the saplings die.

It can also simply be that your scalp can no longer hold and grow hair at all due to hormonal changes, or other medical conditions. You might not have been a suitable candidate for a hair transplant from the beginning. The possibility of this can and should be predicted earlier by a thorough assessment of your overall body health and medications.  In such a case, you can go for ways like camouflage, micro pigmentation, wigs, etc. for a hair-like appearance on the scalp. Or in the best case, you might just want to be okay with the fact and live happily with no remorse.

If you experience any of the above-discussed side effects or other unusual symptoms even weeks or months after your hair transplant, don't hesitate to visit your doctor as soon as possible to eliminate any potential threats.

Hair loss from the surrounding area isn't a side effect

You should note that the causes of your initial hair loss persist in your system. Even though the transplanted hair is fairly safe from those causes, the hair around the operated area may continue to fall as a part of the aging process.

So, it is best if you support your hair transplantation with additional hair loss treatments to maintain the results of the transplant.  Treatments like PRP and a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain the results and also prevent your surrounding hair from falling.

Causes of having side effects

A successful hair transplant free of any complications depends vastly on the following factors:

Expertise of a hair transplant surgeon

A skilled and experienced surgeon is less likely to make mistakes during the procedure and ensures a successful outcome. On the other hand, a less competent surgeon can increase the risk of complications and the likelihood of experiencing side effects.

Patient’s health and pre-existing medical conditions

A patient's overall health can impact their body's ability to heal and recover from a hair transplant. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or if you are taking certain medications, you may be more susceptible to side effects after the procedure.

Quality of services provided by the clinic

A clinic with a good reputation is likely to have experienced and skilled surgeons who have performed numerous successful hair transplant procedures, use the latest technologies and techniques, have high standards for patient care and safety, and follow all necessary safety protocols and regulations. These details about a clinic ensure the least side effects.

Patient’s compliance with the aftercare

Following the hair transplant procedure, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for your scalp and hair. Failing to follow these instructions can increase the risk of complications and side effects. So it's not just the doctors and the clinic, but you too, are responsible for the side effects to occur.

Minimize the side effects

Now that you have understood the causes, you can minimize the side effects by simply eliminating the causes and adding some healthy routines to your lifestyle.

  1. Choose a well-qualified and experienced dermatologist/surgeon and a clinic with excellent reviews from past patients
  2. Discuss any pre-existing medical conditions or medications you're taking with your surgeon to ensure they won't interfere with the procedure.
  3. Don't miss the follow-up appointments
  4. Follow all the aftercare instructions promptly
  5. Protect your scalp from anything that can harm the follicles
  6. Eat a healthy nutritious diet
  7. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for some months
  8. Sleep well, take plenty of rest, and manage stress
  9. Have realistic expectations, and be patient with the results

Conclusion

All this information is to make you aware and set clear expectations regarding hair transplant. It isn’t intended to deter you from the procedure. To book your appointment with the doctor, please fill out the form below: