Hair Transplant Side Effects

hair transplant side effects

What are the main side effects after a hair transplant? This is a common question asked by our patients visiting The Treatment Rooms London. This blog will aim to inform you about the main side effects you need to be aware of such as:

  1. Pain in the scalp donor and recipient area
  2. Swelling around your hair transplant, forehead and eyes
  3. Itching
  4. Bleeding at the donor or recipient site
  5. Crusting of the implanted grafts or at the donor site
  6. Inflammation or infection of the hair grafts
  7. Temporary loss of hair (shock loss)

Hair Transplantation

Before undergoing a hair transplant you will need to meet with your surgeon beforehand. In these meetings you should address all your concerns including the process of the surgery, what to expect afterwards, side effects to look out for and how your hair will grow in the future.

The surgery itself involves taking hair at the back and sides of the head and moving them to areas you are balding in. These hairs are not affected by the hair loss and thinning process, so when they are moved they remain where they have been implanted.

The surgery sounds simple- so are there any side effects you need to worry about? In short- yes there are.

As hair transplant is surgery you will realise that the process involves pre-operation assessment, anaesthesia, blood pressure control, precise cutting around and accurate implantation of grafts. Your aftercare following surgery is therefore incredibly important. You should expect a detailed breakdown of side effects and how to manage them by your hair transplant surgeon.

The main side effects you will need to be aware of are the following:

  1. Pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Itching
  4. Bleeding
  5. Crusting
  6. Inflammation/ Infection

Pain

Your pain should typically be worst on the evening of your surgery. The pain can be felt in your donor area but also where hairs have just been implanted, (1). It is often described as a graze like pain but shouldn’t be severe.

What is happening? The hair transplant involves many small cuts to your head. After the local anaesthetic has worn off you may start to feel some of these small cuts. By the next day the worst of the feeling should have worn off and you should feel comfortable. In a small number of patients where the transplant has been a large one, you might feel mild pain that persists for 1- 2 weeks.

How can you treat the pain? Any pain you feel can be easily managed using Paracetamol with Ibuprofen (or Nurofen). If you needed something stronger it is worth going back to your hair transplant surgeon to discuss what can be given.

What is your pain isn’t going away? If your pain is persistent following a hair transplant you ought to go back and see your surgeon. The pain might go away with a bit more time but in some cases the pain can be because of another problem. For example, in patients who have been over-harvested with poor implantation of grafts and delayed scalp healing.

Swelling

Swelling can start to develop the next day after a hair transplant (3). This tends to be worse in the forehead and around the eyes. It can last for 7-10 days post-surgery. In most patients this is mild but can in some cases be severe.

What is happening? As you have undergone surgery there will be an element of inflammation from the surgery. This inflammation will cause the skin tissue in the scalp to swell and feel tight. This can sometimes move down the forehead and affect the eyes.

How can you treat swelling? At The Treatment Rooms London, we routinely provide anti-inflammatory medications such as dexamethasone (a steroid). This is a tablet that you take once a day in the morning and it helps to reduce the swelling. In most patients the swelling is kept completely at bay.

What if your swelling isn’t going away? Sometimes in large hair transplant cases your swelling may persist for a bit longer that 7-10 days or might start to affect your eyes. You should at this point make an appointment to see your hair transplant surgeon. They will be able to advise on how to best manage the side effect. Rest assured this side effect should disappear.

Itching

Itching is often the last side effect to develop. It often affects the back and sides of the head where donor was taken. It can also affect the area where grafts have been implanted. Itching may start as early as 4-5 days after the procedure and can last up to a month.

What is happening? Like swelling, itching is secondary to the inflammation and healing processes your scalp is going through after surgery. Itching can also be due to a dry scalp after hair transplantation. In both circumstances the side effect tends to go away with time

How can you treat itching? At The Treatment Rooms London, we have written an extensive blog on this topic. Feel free to read it by clicking HERE. In summary you can use the following treatments:

1. Do not scratch the itch!
2. Salt water spray
3. Taking an anti-histamine
4. Medicated shampoo
5. Steroid scalp solution

Bleeding

Bleeding can occur as a side effect straight after your transplant. The back of the head where your hair follicles have been taken out will bleed on the day of your surgery. This will stop after the procedure and you will develop scabs. The area will heal over the next few days- weeks.

Bleeding in the area where follicles have been implanted is normal on the day of the procedure. You should not be bleeding the day after the procedure. If you are, you may have dislodged or removed an implanted hair follicle.

How can you treat bleeding? If you find you are bleeding the day after the procedure don’t panic. Simply get a clean swab/ cotton bud or cloth and apply gentle pressure to the area. Don’t rub as it might dislodge any follicles. The bleeding should eventually stop. You should notify your surgeon that this has happened as it could mean you have lost a hair follicle.

What if the bleeding isn’t going away? If you bleed despite applying light pressure then you should contact your surgeon who should see you as soon as they can.

Crusting

You may notice some crusts that appear in the donor area-these are scabs and they are normal. Crusts may also appear where your grafts have been implanted- this is also normal.

What is happening? The crusts appear because of dried blood and fluid from your surgery settling around each of your implanted hairs. Crusting can be prevented during your surgery by careful washing and spraying by your surgeon. Crusts may appear after your surgery too.

How can you treat crusting? Firstly- DO NOT pick the crusts off. You risk pulling the grafts out and ruining your hair transplant. We recommend spraying your grafts regularly in the first 5 days after surgery. This helps to prevent hard crusts forming. Once you start washing on the 5th day, soak your crusts for 5-10 minutes and wash the area away. Do not spray the area directly with your shower head but instead let water trickle over and wash the foam away. After 1-2 weeks you should be crust free.

Inflammation or infection of the hair grafts

As with any surgery there is always a risk of infection. Your hair transplant should be carried out in a sterile (clean) surgical room so this risk should be minimal. Infection can start as soon as a day after your surgery. Infection normally causes your scalp to feel hot, painful and itchy. You might even notice small painful yellow bumps in the area you have your new grafts.

What is happening? As the grafts have been implanted into small cuts there is a risk of bacteria settling into these cuts too and causing an infection around the hair (folliculitis).

How can you treat infection? Normally this can be treated easily with an antibiotic tablet. The tablet should start working within 1-2 days and clear your infection in 7 days. There should not be any risk to your grafts if this is done quickly so make sure you visit your surgeon promptly if you notice signs of an infection. Sometimes your surgeon may also recommend a cream to apply on your head. This can also help fight the infection.

Still worried about hair transplantation side effects?

Send us an email or Whatsapp us by clicking the icon to ask for our advice. Our Hair Loss Doctors and Surgeons are happy to help!

Read more:

References:

  1. Nusbaum BP, Techniques to reduce pain associated with hair transplantation: optimizing anaesthesia and analgesia. 2004, Am J Clin Dermatol, 5(1):9-15
  2. Avram M, Rogers N and Watkins S, Side-effects from follicular unit extraction in hair transplantation. 2014, J Cutan Aesthet Surg, 7(3): 177-179
  3. Gholamali A, Sepideh P and Susan E, Hair Transplantation: Preventing Post-operative Oedema. 2010, J Cutan Aesthet Surg, 3(2): 87-89
  4. Loganathan et al, Complications of Hair Restoration Surgery: A Retrospective Analysis, 2014. Int J Trichology, 6(4): 168- 172

Are Hair Transplants Dangerous?

dangerous hair transplants

A recent question was asked in the newspaper- is having a hair transplant dangerous or invasive? This blog will help answer the question for those of you who are interested!

Is a hair transplant dangerous?

In short the answer is- it can be. If you are operated in a clinic or by a surgeon that is inexperienced, unregulated and unlicensed it is certainly dangerous.

Choose a clinic that is regulated, established and a surgeon who is licensed and you should expect your hair transplant to be safe with good results. But what does it mean to have a procedure that is “invasive”.

The word invasive essentially means how much the surgery involves cutting into your skin. Like any other surgery, hair transplantation obviously involves undergoing some cutting into the skin and is considered “minimally invasive“. This is because the depth of each cut is normally not more than half a centimetre and is very small.

At The Treatment Rooms London we have sometimes seen patients come from clinics that are unregulated and unlicensed who have deeper cuts than this. It can result in terrible complications including permanent scarring like skin necrosis. We strongly advise you to do your research. Any clinic you go to in the UK should fit the following conditions:

  1. Have a Care Quality Commission License
  2. The surgeon should hold a GMC license

You can check both these conditions by clicking the following links:

  1. Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  2. GMC

What is a safe hair transplant?

A hair transplant can be a safe treatment. It relies on a few different factors which you should be aware of.

  1. Having a full consultation with your hair transplant surgeon
  2. Finding out how the operation will be carried out
  3. Having clear goals on what you expect from your surgery and see if this matches your surgeon’s expectations too

Have a full consultation with your hair transplant surgeon

It is important you get to know your surgeon and their clinic. Trust is an important part of any patient journey. Having a hair transplant is just the beginning and you will need to trust your surgeon to understand your wishes.

Secondly, you will need to meet with your hair transplant surgeon to vet their experiences and their qualifications (e.g. GMC licence). They should be able to give you a full consultation around your hair loss, the likely diagnosis and counsel you around the pros and cons of every treatment (not just a transplant). Sometimes, it might be in your best interests to delay a hair transplant rather than jumping straight into it.

Find out how the operation will be carried out

It is important you know where and how your surgery will be carried out. Having the operation in a CQC- registered clinic is the first step. Ask about how your surgeon and their team keeps a clean sterile environment so there is minimal risk of infection when you have surgery.

Have you thought about what type of surgery you will be having? There a two main hair transplant procedures (FUE and FUT). You should ask your surgeon which procedure you would benefit most from.

Have clear goals on what you expect from your surgery and see if this matches your surgeon’s expectations too

What is your current pattern of hair loss and what do you want to achieve by having hair loss treatment? Having a hair transplant might be an option for you but there is a limited amount of hair your surgeon can transplant. If you are young you might want to plan your transplant to account for further hair loss in the future. 

A transplant will never match your original hair density. However, by strategically placing hairs your surgeon can give you the illusion of having dense hair. You will need to have an honest conversation with your surgeon about what you would like from a hair transplant. Be prepared for your surgeon to guide you on what they think is also best for you- accounting for the following factors:

  1. How much hair you have lost so far
  2. How much hair you can have transplanted
  3. Whether you will lose more hair
  4. How much density your surgeon can safely achieve
  5. Whether you might require 2 sessions for a safe procedure 

Finally, the next concern you should then have is what you should expect when it comes to your hair transplant recovery. You surgeon should be able to inform you on your recovery and provide clear instructions about how you should care for your transplanted hairs in the days following the operation. For more information on common FAQs our patients ask us click on the following links:

  1. Common FAQs
  2. Patient recovery and aftercare
  3. What you can expect after a hair transplant

Hair Transplantation at The Treatment Rooms London

The above guidance is a basic requirement all hair transplant clinics should be providing their patients. At The Treatment Rooms London we are happy to answer questions or concerns our patients have about a hair transplant. Understandably, it is a large undertaking and choosing to have the procedure is a considered decision. Our 3 top tips are to take your time, be comfortable with your clinic and make sure you trust your surgeon.

References

  1. https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/dear-doctor-should-i-encourage-my-husband-to-get-a-hair-transplant-37839766.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4507484/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840892/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4271303/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12174065
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825128/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/men-hair-loss-17/hair-transplants
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimally_invasive_procedure
  9. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/beware-of-the-hair-transplant-black-market/
  10. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/unregulated-hair-transplant-clinic/
  11. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gangrene/
  12. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/safe-hair-transplants/
  13. https://www.gmc-uk.org/
  14. https://www.cqc.org.uk/
  15. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/hair-transplant-death-man-wanted-more-grafts-in-1-go/articleshow/68366127.cms
  16. https://www.timesnownews.com/health/article/mumbai-man-dies-hours-after-hair-transplant-what-are-the-side-effects-and-health-risks-associated-with-hair-replacement-surgery/380340
  17. https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/india/man-dies-within-50-hours-ofundergoing-hair-transplant

Beware Of The Hair Transplant Black Market

black market hair transplant campaign

The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery has officially launched its awareness campaign around Black Market Hair Transplant Clinics. In this short blog we explain what is going on.

As you may have read in our earlier blogs, (click here), we are seeing poor hair transplants being performed by unregulated clinics. Sadly, patients are seeking help from clinics to treat their hair loss and come away even worse than when they first visited.

There is a growing number of black market hair transplant clinics that are performing dangerous and poor transplants. As a result the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), the global leading authority of hair loss treatment and restoration, has released a worldwide campaign. It’s called “Beware Of The Hair Transplant Black Market”.

Why has the campaign been launched?

The black market of hair transplant clinics consists of clinics that are primarily run by technicians. Sometimes there might be 1 doctor and 10-60 technicians who operate in a “conveyor belt like” manner. The doctor present in the clinic is mainly there for show only. Sometimes they don’t have a valid medical license or a job permit. Ultimately, corners are cut in patient care and patients have no recourse to make a complaint.

Without proper clinical care, patients come away from these clinics with injuries such as:

  1. Scarring
  2. Over-harvested donor areas
  3. Poor, irreparable hair transplant results

The risk of technicians performing hair transplants is certainly daunting. It is illegal for technicians to make any cuts or incisions in the UK. Currently the main Black Market Hair Transplant Clinics are located in:

  1. Turkey (#1 Destination)
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Iran
  5. USA

These clinics normally try and attract patients with the following methods:

  • Paying large sums of money for marketing- using terms like “no pain” “no scars” “leading clinic” which are entirely misleading
  • Providing no clinical advice to patients on whether they are a good candidate for hair transplant surgery or not, i.e. they operate on anyone who pays
  • Technicians performing the surgery and anaesthesia with no Doctors. This means prices are cheaper for patients as the clinics they visit don’t have to employ a fully licensed hair transplant doctor
  • Offering large numbers of grafts at cheap prices e.g. 2000-4000 graft extractions per session with no regard for the patient’s degree of balding. Their mantra being quantity is better than quality but resulting in an over-harvested donor area
  • Attracting patients by advertising 4-5 star hotel accommodation, transportation and airfare
  • Offering a certification of quality (meaningless)
  • Guaranteeing results- knowing patients are coming abroad and will not return to complain about over-harvesting and poor implantation

What is the campaign?

The campaign has just started and is aiming to achieve a number of key objectives particularly around patient education.

Education and Awareness

Patients are being misled by false advertising. Adverts on Facebook, Google and Instagram with pictures and videos about hair transplant surgery being so easy that patients can be operated on in an “assembly line” is misleading.

Hair transplant surgery is essentially surgery. It requires a properly trained hair transplant surgeon (sometimes two surgeons) who are practising under a license and in a regulated clinic. Different patients have varying hair types and hair loss patterns so a “conveyor belt- like surgery” will not be applicable to all. It actually ignores the high attention to detail hair transplant surgeons must have in order to give patients safe, natural and long lasting results.

In the UK there are strict guidelines as to where you should go for hair transplantation. If you wanted to read more please click here. These guidelines include:

1) Choosing a Hair Transplant Surgeon who is GMC registered
2) Choosing a Hair Transplant Clinic that is CQC registered

The campaign is also collecting stories, photos and videos from Doctors and patients. If you have been affected by a poorly performed hair transplant then get in touch to share your experience (click here). Black Market Hair Transplant clinics threaten the integrity of hair transplant surgery including its Doctors and Surgeons who are dedicated to its practise.

What now?

The beware of the Black Market of Hair Transplant Clinics campaign has just started. Expect some new developments on the topic by the ISHRS and BAHRS. We want to make it clear, The Treatment Rooms London fully supports this awareness campaign.

We continue to see patients suffer at the hands of hair transplant technicians and unlicensed clinics. Hair transplant surgery is complex and the surgery is just the beginning of a long hair growth journey. Starting off on the wrong foot can be devastating. No patient should have skin necrosis as the result of poor surgery technique or suffer the effects of an over-harvested donor area.

We encourage any patients looking to have a hair transplant in London or the wider UK landscape to do their homework on the clinic and surgeon they are visiting. If you wanted to know more about this topic then please click here to read our blog.

References

  1. https://ishrs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/BlackMarketAwareCampaignISHRS-ENGLISH_PPT_01-27-19.pdf
  2. https://ishrs.org/bewarehtblackmarket/
  3. http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/4117646
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-treatments/hair-transplant/
  5. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/unregulated-hair-transplant-clinic/
  6. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/safe-hair-transplants/
  7. https://www.treatmentroomslondon.com/5-considerations-before-having-a-hair-transplant/
  8. https://www.prweb.com/releases/dr_robin_unger_discusses_black_markets_in_hair_transplantation/prweb16075785.htm

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Safe Hair Transplants

safe hair transplants

A hair transplant clinic in Windsor has been shut down for breaching infection control practices. Providing safe hair transplants should be one of the most important principles of any hair transplant clinic. Clearly this clinic had made some serious errors. In this blog we explore how we make hair transplants as safe as possible for patients worried about infections.

What did the Windsor clinic do wrong?

A report by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit stated that the hair transplant clinic had breached infection control practices. This means they had put patients at risk of infections by potentially NOT doing the following:

  • Washing and sterilising their surgical instruments in-between different patients
  • Cleaning their surgical room regularly
  • Disposing clinical waste safely

What is infection control?

Infection control is about preventing healthcare- associated infections. These type of infections can affect patients or healthcare professionals (e.g. hair transplant surgeons and nurses). For a hair transplant clinic this means providing safe hair transplants by: 

  • Using autoclaved- sterilised surgical instruments
  • Having protocols on how safe and high quality transplants are carried out
  • Putting policies and procedures in place for preventing infection and checking everyone in the team is compliant with them (e.g. washing hands)
  • Making sure the patient’s hair follicles are kept in a sterile environment

What happens to the clinic’s patients?

If you have visited The Treatment Rooms London for your hair transplant you will know how much our team goes to great lengths to ensure you get personalised care. Every patient starts their hair loss journey with us and we stay with them for life. 

Sadly, for patients who were treated by the Windsor clinic they no longer have a hair transplant clinic to look after them. Secondly, they also have been advised to seek urgent help from their GP. This is because they may have been affected by dirty surgical instruments and they could be infected with:

At The Treatment Rooms London we are reminded of the incredibly sad NHS disaster whereby patients were given contaminated blood products. Many have gone on to be infected with HIV and Hepatitis. For those affected we understand this must be very upsetting. To find out where you local GP is please click here

How can you ensure you have a safe hair transplant?

As we have discussed before in our blog about the 5 considerations you must take before deciding on a hair transplant, you must take your time to find out as much as you can about your hair transplant clinic. 

One check you can do is see if the hair transplant clinic has been registered by the CQC (Care Quality Commission). This regulatory body works to ensure safe, quality clinical practice in every healthcare clinic including hospitals. By registering with the CQC, the hair transplant clinic has gone through the rigorous safety and quality checks that the CQC regulates under the Health and Social Care Act. 

Secondly, you can check whether your surgeon is registered with the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery (BAHRS) and General Medical Council (GMC). These professional associations mean your hair restoration surgeon is regulated and operates to their strict codes of conduct.

If you are worried about your hair loss and want to seek professional advice about safe hair transplants, then please contact our Hair Transplant surgeons today. Click here to fill out an enquiry form

​References

  1. https://www.wechu.org/reports/guaranteed-hair-transplant-clinic-ipac-report
  2. https://windsor.ctvnews.ca/hair-transplant-clinic-customers-warned-of-potential-infection-breach-1.4211771
  3. https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/health-unit-urges-customers-of-hair-transplant-clinic-to-seek-medical-attention
  4. https://www.qcs.co.uk/infection-control/
  5. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/
  6. https://www.kch.nhs.uk/about/corporate/care-standards/infection-prevention
  7. https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/healthcare-associated-infections/
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-44671153

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