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Using caffeine shampoo after a hair transplant

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    Today, there are many shampoos out there that contain caffeine. Some patients may wonder whether it is worth using caffeine shampoo after having a hair transplant? Currently there is no strong evidence to suggest that caffeine shampoo is beneficial after having a hair transplant. In this article we will go into more detail about caffeine shampoo and using it after having a hair transplant.

    Do caffeine shampoos work?

    In the month of January, 2007, a study was published in the International Journal of Dermatology, by a group of scientists, Fisher, Hipler, and Elsner. They carried out a research to check the effects of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles. The group of researchers collected hair follicles from the biopsies of patients suffering from androgenetic alopecia, which is a common cause of hair loss among both men and women. They cultivated these hair follicles in vitro, and used different concentrations of testosterone and caffeine to check for stimulative activities. At the end of the experiment, it was caffeine that was found to significantly stimulate hair follicle growth. These made them to conclude that, “Caffeine may be able to stimulate human hair growth, and may have important clinical roles in the management of androgenetic alopecia.”1

    However, there’s still no enough clinical evidence to support the claims that such shampoos truly work to improve hair growth and reduce hair loss. In fact, during a period in March, 2018, a regulatory body in the United Kingdom sanctioned a popular caffeine shampoo brand, and prohibited it from advertising its products with the claims that it can reduce hair loss. They backed their action by citing the lack of significant evidences to back up the brands claims.2

    The Fisher, Hipler, and Elsner study was only a test-tube experiment, and was performed in a lab not on on the human scalp. The human scalp is not the same as an in lab petri dish experiment and without human scalp tests there is no hard evidence to suggest caffeine shampoos help to promote and prevent hair loss before or after having a hair transplant.

    There have many different experiments on the effect of caffeine on hair in lab and they suggest caffeine may be able to help the hair in the following ways:

    Increased growth time

    Human hair follicles are split into those that are actively growing and those that are at a resting phase. The ones that are actively growing are called the anagen hairs, while those that are resting are called the telogen hairs. The anagen hair can grow for anywhere between 2-5 years, before it grows into a telogen hair and enter a resting phase for about 3-5 months, after which a new hair will grow again to push out the resting hair. At the end of the anagen phase, there’s the catagen phase. It lasts only about 10 days, and it is during this phase that the hair growth slows down as the hair follicles shrink, with the hair being detached from its base.3

    Research has shown that the transition from the anagen (growth) phase of hair growth to the catagen stage, where hair stops growing, is regulated by different factors. And caffeine was found to promote the expression of factors that helped the hair follicles to stay in a growth phase, and this increased hair growth time.1

    Reduced hair loss

    Research-based findings have shown that caffeine may play a role in the management of Androgenetic alopecia, as it is able to counteract the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) induced miniaturisation of the hair follicle by inhibition of phosphodiesterase, which increases cAMP levels in cells and thus, promotes proliferation by stimulating cell metabolism.4

    Can you use a caffeine shampoo after a hair transplant?

    We advise patients not to wash their hair transplant until 4 days have passed following surgery. We don’t recommend using caffeine shampoo after having a hair transplant for the first 2 weeks after having a hair transplant. And for the first 2 weeks after your hair transplant we recommend using a gentle shampoo such as a baby shampoo.

    After 2 weeks have passed you can use a caffeine based shampoo if you wish to do so. However, there is no robust evidence to suggest that it will work to help your hair transplant grow faster or quicken your recovery. In summary:

    1. First 4 days no shampooing after your hair transplant
    2. On 5th day use a gentle baby shampoo after your hair transplant
    3. After 2 weeks you can use a caffeine shampoo after your hair transplant

    What happens if you use a caffeine shampoo after your hair transplant?

    If you use caffeine shampoo after having a shampoo you can raise your blood caffeine levels. In one study, just after 5 minutes of topical application, caffeine was already detected in the bloodstream of human volunteers.6 This means the caffeine in your shampoos can equally get absorbed into your bloodstream, through the hair follicles. If there is a positive effect from using caffeine and promoting hair loss you will realise this theoretical benefit.

    Irrespective of when you are to start shampooing your hair, our advise is to avoid harsh shampoos (those containing harsh chemicals). You should only go for mild ones that are gentle on the skin. For this reason we recommend baby shampoos that are gentle on the scalp and hair shaft.

    Drinking coffee after having a hair transplant

    Most patients are able to drink coffee the day after having their hair transplant. We recommend avoiding coffee before having your hair transplant as it can raise your blood pressure and cause complications during surgery5.

    Rarely, we advise that some patients avoid having coffee for 1-2 days after their hair transplant especially if they have bled more than the average patient. Our Surgeons will guide you through these particular instances after your hair transplant.

    Conclusion

    There is no robust evidence to suggest caffeine shampoos have benefits for hair growth. Laboratory studies show that caffeine can improve hair growth and prevent hair loss but this hasn’t been shown in human scalp hair. Using a caffeinated shampoo after a hair transplant surgery isn’t recommended until 2 weeks have passed.

    REFERENCES

    1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17214716/
    2. https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/dr-kurt-wolff-gmbh—co-kg-a17-387365.html
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320655/
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3500065/
    5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9625220/
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2767280/

    Authored by

    Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr Roshan Vara

    Dr Roshan Vara

    Full Medical Member of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery

    GMC Registered - 7458409

    Reviewed by

    Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr Dilan Fernando

    Dr Dilan Fernando

    Royal College of Surgeons

    Executive Committee Member & Treasurer of the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery

    GMC Registered - 7458157

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