Here’s How You Can Breeze Through Hair Transplant Aftercare
Read on if you want to set yourself up for a successful recovery.
Bracing for Potential Complications
There is a list of complications that could potentially happen after hair transplant surgery. You can improve your chances of avoiding them with these insights.
While infections after a hair transplant surgery are rare, you must always choose to err on the side of caution. Poor management may lead to disastrous results, so don’t ever let your guard down during this sensitive recovery period.
Any break in skin integrity poses a risk for infection. The linear incision in FUT or the round microincisions from FUE is a potential entry point for microorganisms. Without proper aftercare, these entry points become vulnerable to delayed wound healing.
Remember, germs are everywhere. They can be in the air, on surgical equipment, and even inside or on your own body. Therefore, you must take caution in your aftercare measures.
Take note that you have an increased risk for surgical wound infection if you:
- Had surgery that lasts more than 2 hours
- Are overweight or obese
- Have poorly controlled diabetes
- Are a smokerHave problems with your immune system
- Take corticosteroids
As a patient, you must engage in proper wound care to prevent infections. Each surgeon will have their protocol, and you must follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions. However, it is a given that this should always start with thorough handwashing since our hands are the primary vehicles of infection.
You must contact your doctor if your hair transplant wound is showing signs of infection. Look out for the following signs and symptoms:
- Pus or drainage
- A foul smell coming from the surgical wound
- Fever, chills
- Warm to touch
- Pain or sore to touch
Antibiotic treatment is necessary to counter infection. For it to be effective, you must take it as prescribed by your doctor. Continue these medications even though you may start to feel well.
Bleeding is normal with any wound. Ideally, it should gradually improve days after surgery. While at home, you should be mindful of excessive blood loss. If the surgeon excluded surgery as one of the reasons for unexpected bleeding, the problem could stem from structural disorders, recent drug intake, or clotting problems.
Observing the surgical site to see if bleeding has stopped or lessened is also a vital part of wound care. It is a common cause for concern, particularly for those who undergo strip surgery as the surgical wound is longer. If bleeding has not stopped , report this immediately to your surgeon.
To prevent bleeding problems, here are important reminders you must follow before surgery:
- Inform your doctor of ALL the medications you take.
- Disclose every over-the-counter drug, homeopathic, or natural medications you have taken. Never assume that these are harmless products just because they don’t need a prescription. Medicines like aspirin and even supplements (e.g., vitamin E, garlic) can increase your bleeding tendencies.
- You must inform your doctor if you’ve encountered bleeding or clotting problems in a previous surgery.
- Be sure that your doctor will be checking signs of bleeding after surgery. Never hesitate to ask so that you will be aware of the measures that will be done to ensure your safety.
- Pause the use of topical Minoxidil, smoking, and alcohol intake at least two weeks before surgery.
Excessive bleeding after hair transplant surgery can be managed using medications that will slow or stop the bleeding. You must also avoid products that increase bleeding for at least 3-5 days after surgery.
It is common for the forehead to swell after hair transplant surgery. It usually occurs around the second to fourth day after the procedure. Due to gravity, the swelling will eventually go down to the eyelids, where, in some cases, it becomes so severe that the patient is unable to open his/her eyes. Swelling is an aesthetic concern that can lead to extended absences from work.
Control swelling by elevating your head at a 45-degree angle while you sleep. You can prop your head on 2-3 pillows to assume this position. Also, use a neck pillow or a rolled towel to hold your head and protect your grafts from any contact. Continue to do this up to the third night post-surgery.
A cold compress is also an effective way to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply an ice pack or a frozen bag of peas just above your eyebrows, but not on the surgical site. A mild massage can also help disperse fluid buildup.
Steroid medications can be prescribed to reduce the swelling. Just like other post-surgical medications prescribed by your doctor, take them as instructed.
Any trauma to the skin can elicit pain signals to the brain. Since pain is a subjective response, we may experience it differently from the next patient. Once the anesthetic has waned off after hair transplant surgery, you can expect some discomfort.
Pain is inevitable, but there are ways for you to prevent it from getting worse. Take your pain medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Remember that pain increases in intensity when there is an infection. Therefore, infection prevention inadvertently minimizes pain. The same is also true when you control the swelling. Resting with your head inclined can also reduce the discomfort caused by the pressure when lying flat on your back.
Aside from pain medications, steroids can also help manage the post hair transplant pain. Ideally, pain should gradually improve for the next couple of days after surgery. Inform your doctor if the intensity has increased because this could be a sign of infection.
Here is a quick run-through of essential self-care tips when recovering from your hair transplant surgery.
- Some doctors may allow you to wash your hair gently in the shower on the day after surgery.
- Do not let the water beat directly on the recipient site. You may have to use a cup in the shower to help rinse the surgical site gently.
- Around 2-3 days after surgery, you can gently touch the grafts with your fingertips while washing in the shower. It would be wise to clip your nails regularly during this period to avoid scratching your grafts while washing.
- Never take off any crust that may form on the surgical site. Allow it to fall by itself around 7-10 days after surgery.
- Grooming should be done very cautiously and carefully, especially when you’ve undergone a partially-shaved or non-shaved hair transplant.
Work and exercise
- Once you get home, be sure to rest with minimal activity until the next morning.
- Refrain from work or sports for one week, or for as long as your doctor advises it.
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages days after surgery to prevent bleeding and delayed wound healing.
- Do not bend over or engage in any lifting for 48 hours after surgery to prevent bleeding and excessive swelling.
- Avoid direct sunlight for two weeks following your procedure.
Now that we’ve got your bases covered, we hope that this knowledge will help you get on track towards healing. Do you want a thorough discussion on how to ensure surgical success? Get a personalized surgical plan, talk to Dr. Tyng Tan today.
About Dr Tyng Tan
Dr Tyng Tan has over ten years of experience treating male pattern baldness with the minimally invasive, non-strip method known as FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) Hair Transplantation.