While it is a very common occurrence for hair grafts to shed after hair has been transplanted, occasionally patients will experience another type of hair loss, coined shock loss. Simply put, this is when the patient loses some of their natural hair as well after the procedure. Fortunately, this type of hair loss is temporary most of the time. It occurrs after there has been too much trauma to the scalp during the hair replacement procedure, thus sending the natural hair follicles into shock. If the shock loss is only temporary, the patient will start to see hair regrowth within several months. Unfortunately, sometimes permanent hair loss can also result from a hair transplant surgery.
This type of hair loss has two possible causes. The first one happens if the surgeon accidentally crosses over existing hair follicles. The doctor is far less likely to do this as long as they aren’t using too large of an instrument in relation to the size graft they are taking and transplanting. The second occurs if the physician takes grafts that contain hairs that have already begun to miniaturize- which simply means the hairs have begun to decrease in both length and diameter. These hairs would fall out on their own anyway, no matter where they are placed on the scalp. There are several medications that can help reduce the chance of this from happening because they are able to reverse the miniaturization process that has begun. Many times, larger sessions are the culprit of shock loss. The larger the hair transplant session, the more trauma the scalp will receive. By doing the process in smaller sessions, the density at which the hair grafts are packed is greatly reduced thus lessening the chance of additional hair loss.
There are several factors that affect how likely a patient is to experience shock loss. If the patient’s scalp is too thin, the physician runs a greater risk of damaging the network of arterial vessels. Thus translates to a higher risk of the transplant failing, or producing either temporary or permanent hair loss. Another factor that can cause temporary shock happens if the surgeon uses too much epinephrine to control the bleeding during the procedure. When too much is used, the blood flow through the arteries will significantly decrease which then throws the hairs into shock.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent shock loss from occurring yet. Although, as long as the surgeon is skilled, and uses appropriately sized instruments and proven techniques, the chance of it happening can be greatly minimized.