Hair Transplant Surgery: Possible Complications

Today’s hair transplant techniques are improved to the point where any complications are unlikely, though it is still possible for them to occur.

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure. And any surgical procedure carries a risk of complications, no matter how small. The overall health of the client will have a great affect on the number of possible complications. A client that smokes, drinks alcohol, has an illness or takes medications poses a greater risk of complications.

Bleeding is a possible complication, and taking certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs or vitamin E, will increase the risk. Infection is another possible complication, but can be prevented and treated by taking antibiotics before and after the procedure. Though not a serious complication, it is also possible to experience swelling in the head or face as a result of the hair transplant surgery. The swelling will last a few days and go away on its own, and sleeping on a tilted pillow can help. As a preventative step, the doctor can give the client cortisone to minimize any swelling.

If undergoing a strip procedure, a thin linear scar is expected, however, scalp numbness or tenderness is another possible complication. If the doctor does not take great care while harvesting the strip, or if their closure method is poor, it could result in a sore, painful scar.  Any soreness or numbness should disappear a few months following surgery; however, it is possible to have permanent numbness, especially if nerves were damaged. Permanent numbness cannot be reversed.

Shedding of the hairs in the following weeks after the surgery is normal and nothing to be alarmed about. The hair follicle remains in the scalp and will grow new hair in the coming months. A more serious complication would be what is called shock loss, and refers to a temporary loss of the transplanted hairs, as well as the hairs the client had before the hair transplant. This happens because of the “trauma” to the scalp during the procedure. This occurs only in a small percentage of male patients, with the risk being slightly higher in female patients.  Good thing is that the hair that was lost during a shock loss will most likely grow back after a few months. An experienced doctor will take steps to minimize the risk of excessive shedding as well as shock loss.

Another unlikely complication of a hair transplant is the possibility that the hairs will grow poorly or not at all. Poor growth can occur for different reasons including damage to the hair follicles when harvesting or implanting the hairs, dry grafts, and for other unknown reasons.

Though it is possible to experience complications as result of a hair transplant, it is important to understand that the majority of clients do not. Consulting a skilled doctor with many years of experience, as well as following pre and post operative instructions will greatly increase the chance of a complication free hair transplant.

Photo via gullevek

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