Balding and hair loss inevitably causes changes in your general appearance and this can take a toll on your confidence. According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Trichology, hair loss can lower a man’s quality of life with negative effects on his self-esteem, confidence, and interpersonal relationships.
Hair transplantation is one of few effective methods available to restore hair growth. As its name suggests, the process involves transplanting hair follicles from an area with healthy growth to a bald or thinning area.
If you decide to take the hair transplantation option, what should you expect?
In this post, we tell you what to expect in terms of your scalp’s appearance immediately, as well as in the days after a hair transplant surgery.
Worth noting is that the surgeon will of course cover your head with dressing immediately after the procedure. This dressing should stay on for at least 24 hours.
These discussed changes are those you may observe after the dressing is removed.
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Yes, it is quite normal for the skin on your scalp to turn red or pinkish after hair transplant surgery. It is the skin’s natural reaction to trauma caused by cuts or incisions made in both the donor area and then the transplanted (or recipient) area.
Redness could begin anytime between hours after the surgery and a few days later. It typically lasts 2 to 3 weeks although the exact duration depends on the individual’s skin tone and sensitivity. Men with sensitive and very light skin are likely to experience scalp redness for longer than those with darker, tougher skin.
You can help reduce redness by shielding your scalp from direct sunlight and avoiding hot showers.
Swelling of Head and Face
Swelling of the donor and recipient area after the surgery would not be a surprise. After all, these are the directly affected areas experiencing the trauma of cuts and incisions.
However, many patients also experience swelling on the face; most significantly the forehead and area under the eyes, about 4 days after the surgery. A symptom that baffles many since the surgeon does not in any way touch the patient’s face.
Here is why it happens
Surgeons typically inject fluids like anesthesia and adrenaline into the scalp during the procedure to help deal with pain and reduce the chances of heavy bleeding. Fluids may also be injected to create a space between skull muscles and the scalp, in order to make it easier to extract hair follicles from the donor area. It is this fluid that causes post-surgery swelling on the face.
How long does face swelling last?
It usually resolves in a week or so as the body naturally excretes the fluids through the kidneys in urine.
Scabs and crusts
Like redness, scabs on the scalp after hair transplantation surgery are a normal part of healing. Like with any other wound, scabs form a natural protection against infection-causing dirt and blood loss.
Hard crusts form on each of the transplanted plugs about two weeks after the surgery. At this point, the transplanted areas will be obvious, therefore causing what may be unsightly marks. The good news is that they don’t last long. You only have to resist the temptation to pick at them. Let them fall off on their own.
Scabs can be very itchy. Interestingly, even experts don’t quite understand why scabs get so itchy. What they all agree on is that you should never give in to the urge to scratch. Gently applying a cold compress can offer relief to help you get through this ‘itchy’ time.
While these changes are all part of the natural healing process, there are a few ways to stay safe and make the wait for full recovery more bearable.
Here are some of them…
- Avoid pull-over shirts and tops for the first week or so. It goes without saying that your scalp will appreciate a break from the disturbance of pulling clothes on and off over your head.
- If you smoke, it is advisable to avoid those cigarettes for at least a fortnight before and a fortnight after the hair transplant surgery. Tobacco inhibits circulation and this could compromise healing and the general surgical outcome.
- Will you have to borrow your wife’s shower caps after the surgery? No.
A few days after removing the dressing, place a clean, soft washcloth over your scalp and let lukewarm water wash over it as you take a shower. This helps to keep the area clean without any direct injury to the surgical area.
- Steer clear of the gym for a while: Refrain from exercise or any strenuous activities for at least 10 days after the surgery. This gives your hair grafts time to heal properly and fully. Exercise raises your blood pressure which increases the chances of trauma or excessive bleeding which could dislodge the grafts.
Scalp redness, scabs, and swelling are all normal, observable changes to be expected after a hair transplant procedure. Fortunately, none last for more than a few weeks and typically resolve on their own. However, that is as long as you had the surgery done by a qualified professional.
When you make the decision to undergo hair transplant surgery, be sure to select a reputable facility. There is no telling what complications you may find yourself dealing with when you put your head under the hands of an unqualified, inexperienced surgeon.