Help! Why am I losing hair rather than gaining it following my hair transplant?!
This is a question a lot of patients will want to ask after they have had their hair transplant. Around the second week following your hair loss surgery, you will experience (as in all cases), some hair ‘shedding’ for a period of time.
This is nothing to worry about! It is normal to experience the shedding of some newly transplanted hair grafts after any hair transplant procedures. The hair roots or grafts will be ‘resting’ but will remain healthy and will become active in time. While the idea of ‘shock hair loss’ sounds very dramatic, the shedding is always temporary. So, although it might cause you some anxiety initially, as long as you are following your post-surgery care advice there is no need to worry and the hair will grow back.
What happens during the transplant?
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is a modern hair transplant technique with extremely good results that is cosmetically more appealing than Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), where a scar may be left in the donor area.
During FUE individual follicles, or small clumps of 2-3 follicles depending on the natural hair density, are carefully removed with a specialist tool and shifted to the bald site in order to rebuild the hair growing potential of the bald area.
Local anaesthetic is used during the procedure to minimise discomfort, both in the donor site where the follicle is being removed and at the graft site where the minuscule incision to embed the follicle into the scalp is made.
The primary difference between FUE and FUT is that only very small excision is required for FUE. During a FUT procedure a strip of hair is removed, usually from the back of the head, which provides the entire supply of donor follicles. Even with advanced suturing techniques there is usually a visible scar which will impact on the shortness to which the hair can be cut without the scar being seen.
When does shock hair loss occur?
Once the follicle falls dormant, in order to heal and establish itself in its new home on your scalp the hair will be shed. It does not mean that the transplant has been unsuccessful or that the follicles are being ejected from their new locations.
Shock hair loss is particularly frequent in women with female pattern hair loss following their hair transplant. It typically occurs between two to four weeks after hair restoration surgery and they will lose most, if not all, of the new implants at this stage. As we say though, it’s not permanent! Once the follicle is settled into the scalp it will begin to grow a new hair, filling in the gap as you anticipated.
Shock hair loss can also occur on male scalps, again with the two to four-week window when the scalp is recovering from the procedure. Your hair will begin to grow again and within the year the loss should have settled down as the hair begins to regrow thicker than before.
Why does shock hair loss occur?
‘Shock hair loss’ occurs as a result of trauma to the scalp during surgery and can begin anything from a few days to a couple of months after hair restoration surgery. It occurs particularly where hair grafts have been implanted between and around existing natural or ‘native’ hair.
In rare cases shock hair loss can occur as a result of reaction to the anaesthetic used to numb the scalp prior to the procedure. Again, should this occur the traumatised follicles will begin to grow again once they have recovered from the surgery.
When can I expect my hair to grow back following shock hair loss?
The new hairs will gradually break through the scalp from around four months after the operation and won’t be visible at first, although you’ll be able to feel them with your fingertips. They will also grow at different rates, slowly maturing for up to a year or eighteen months before you see the final result of your hair restoration surgery. Shock hair loss is a normal stage of the development of new hair grafts and will soon be a distant memory once the full hair has grown back.
Can you avoid shock hair loss?
Unfortunately shock hair loss is part of the process of the cultivation of new, healthy hairs. The good news however is that the loss is always temporary. All of the hairs will re-grow alongside the new implants. Both donor and recipient sites can be affected post-operatively and, in most cases of female hair loss, will take around 9-12 months to grow back.
During the re-growth period the hairs will initially grow thin and colourless and then over the course of a year they will come to thicken, darken and mature. We would always recommend applying Minoxidil lotion during this period to encourage the new hair re-growth. Minoxidil works by reinvigorating shrunken hair follicles. By increasing their size, they are able to grow stronger and thicker hair and recover from transplant surgery faster.
Find out more about shock hair loss and hair transplant procedures
At the Wimpole Clinic in London we have been performing expert hair restoration procedures for over 30 years and believe us, we have seen every kind of hair loss! Clients are bound to feel anxious about shock hair loss and the results of their hair transplant as even the idea of the procedure may produce all kinds of worries. We can assure you however that we know each stage of our procedures like the back of our hands (or heads!) and we will take you through what to expect following the procedure before you decide whether to go for the surgery.
Why not call or email us now to discuss your concerns and to learn more about the procedures?