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Hair Transplant Risks and Side Effects

While hair transplant surgery is often viewed as a minor surgery and is generally a complication-free area of surgery, like any other surgery it's important to be aware of the few risks and risk factors associated with hair replacement surgery.

The major risk factors that are associated with hair restoration surgery are those that increase the risk for excessive bleeding, delayed healing and postoperative infection. Factors that may increase these risks are:

  • conditions that require antibiotics prohylaxis, often associated with artificial joints or valves
  • tobacco usage
  • obesity
  • chronic or recurring viral or bacterial infections
  • malnutrition, including anorexia and bulimia
  • certain herbal supplements
  • use of immunosuppressive drugs, including chemotherapy and corticosteroids
  • medications that decrease the ability of the blood to clot, such as anti-inflammatory drug
  • immunosuppressive disease- HIV-AIDS
  • alcohol abuse
  • diabetes or other chronic metabolic disease
  • chronic or recurring skin infections- boils
  • disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs or gastrointestinal system

Identifying with some of these risk factors will not eliminate your ability to have or reduce the effectiveness of the hair replacement surgery, but you will want to mention it to your surgeon during consultation.

Be sure to discuss any medication, herbal substances, recreational or non-recreational drugs you are taking well before the date of the surgery as you may want to reduce or abstain prior to the operation.

Potential risks of the surgery are:

  • Swelling of the forehead. This usually occurs on the 3rd day after surgery and is gone by the 6th. Forehead swelling occurs in 20% of male patients and 30% of female patients. Most hair restoration clinics provide Prednisone, a steroid to prevent this.
  • "Shock loss," the loss of existing/native hairs after the surgery occurs in about 10% of men and 30% of women. The affected hair follicles begin to grow again in about 3 months.
  • Small cysts on the scalp can occur but are becoming increasingly rare in both male and female patients. This generally occurs when a hair grows inward or from placing one graft on top of another.
  • Very small areas of numbness occur in nearly 100% of patients but these areas return to normal in 3-8 months after surgery.
  • General soreness and discomfort in the donor scar area as it heals.
  • Bleeding, infection, pitting, cobblestoning are very rare possibilities and are unlikely occurrences in reputable practices.

To learn more about possible hair restoration side effects and risk factors, contact us today and arrange your private consultation with a local hair transplant surgery specialist.


--Monica Prata

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