Redness is a common observation in patients after hair transplant surgery. In some people, it is a full-blown red color, while others contend with a pinkish color for a few weeks.
Before we get into different ways to deal with this side-effect, let’s take a step back to understand exactly what causes scalp redness after hair transplant surgery.
What causes redness after a hair transplant?
Redness is actually a normal response to the surgical process. In an attempt to repair itself, your body pumps more blood to the area in order to supply the cells with more oxygen and nutrients which promotes quick healing. It is this extra blood that causes redness.
Most practitioners will prescribe creams, lotions, or shampoos. However, if you wish to combat this effect naturally, there are some ways to do it without chemicals or medication.
The first few days after the procedure are likely to be uncomfortable due to inflammation of the donor and recipient area. This is accompanied by the described redness. Both can be relieved by applying a pack of frozen peas to the scalp.
We have often used ice packs to reduce pain and swelling after an injury. The reason it is effective for swelling is the same reason it works to relieve scalp redness after hair transplants. Cold constricts blood vessels which decreases flow to the area. The effect is reduced blood supply and reduced redness.
Be careful not to overcool your scalp. Apply the ice for no more than 15 minutes about 3 times a day.
Caution in the shower
Take lukewarm showers: Even if you ordinarily enjoy steaming hot showers, you will need to have your shower water cooler than usual in the first few days after hair transplant surgery. The benefit of lukewarm showers is two-fold. Firstly, it eliminates the chance of very hot water landing on your sensitive scalp, which will of course worsen the redness.
Secondly, hot showers increase general blood flow due to intense heat and steam. This then increases blood flow to the scalp and worsens redness.
Sleep at a 45-degree angle
Your sleeping position is another point to check when you are trying to reduce scalp redness naturally. You may need to sleep in a slightly propped-up position for the first few nights. Dr.Angela Sturm, a Houston-based facial plastic surgeon recommends sleeping on a recliner to keep your head elevated throughout the night. This position prevents excessive blood flow to the scalp which worsens redness and could also worsen swelling. It also helps to reduce the chances of your sore scalp rubbing against the pillow or beddings.
Avoid Spicy foods
Does what you have for dinner have anything to do with your post-surgery scalp? Yes, it does. If you enjoy a plate of hot, spicy food every day, you may need to tone it down a notch to reduce scalp redness.
You know that blissfully ‘burning’ sensation you get from biting into a hot chili? It causes an increase in blood flow. Cayenne, a popular spice used in everyday food, for instance, contains a phytochemical called capsaicin which expands your blood vessels for faster blood circulation. If your scalp was red, it is only going to get redder after a plate of spicy food.
Avoid direct sunlight
On an ordinary day, you are advised to protect your skin from exposure to direct sunlight. That alone should tell you that your delicate post-surgery scalp requires extra protection from sunlight.
According to The Treatment Rooms, a London-based hair transplant clinic, the skin after hair transplantation surgery is incapable of protecting itself from the effects of direct exposure to sunlight in the weeks following the procedure. The chromatophores which serve to protect skin from the negative effects of sunlight are dead or inactive after the surgery. It takes a while for them to recover or regenerate altogether.
Scalp redness after a hair transplant is caused primarily by an increase in blood flow to the ‘offended’ areas. It is your body’s natural response to promote healing after what it considers to be scalp injury.
Any method used to reduce this side effect basically boils down to preventing an increase in blood supply to the area by maintaining normal blood flow or avoiding anything which is likely to speed up blood circulation in the entire body.