Whilst in Hair Transplant surgery the risks are relatively low and the potential complications much less frequent than in major surgery, every procedure involves a certain amount of risk, and it is important that you understand the risks involved. An individual’s choice to undergo this procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. In addition, every procedure has limitations. Although the majority of patients do not experience the following complications, you should discuss each of them with your practitioner to make sure you understand the risks, potential complications, and consequences of Hair Transplant Surgery.
Swelling in the forehead – This occurs in about 1 in 50 procedures. If it occurs, it begins on the 3rd post-op day and is usually gone after 3-4 days. Occasionally it extends down around the nose and eyes.
Mild “Shocking” (shedding) of Existing Hair – When there is weak existing hair in the areas of the scalp that is transplanted, occasionally the transplant procedure can have this mild “shock-like” effect on those hairs, causing them to drop out for 3 months, after which they grow back. This effect, in general, is noticed in about 1 in 50 patients, and is usually not an issue after the first session has grown in, since then there is strong dominant hair over the area. If a particular hair that is “shocked” was on one of its last life cycles, then it may drop out permanently. It is important to realise that surgery does not stop further loss of non- transplanted hair.
Temporary numbness of part of the head – It is common for some portion of the top-rear area of the scalp to be partly numb for a few weeks after the surgery. It then gradually returns to normal during the next few months.
Post-op pain or headache – These are both quite rare. The donor area may be a little sensitive for about a day or so, except for that, only about 1 in 20 patients actually have headache or other pain that requires any pain medicine.
Minor and trivial side effect – Itching in the area of the new grafts or along the Donor scar may occur occasionally.
Hair texture changes – When your new hair begins to grow it may be more kinked or wavier than your original hair. Over time the hair generally resumes its normal character. It is possible that these hair texture changes may persist.
Numbness – Numbness of the scalp/face may occur due to necessary cutting of fine nerve fibres in the skin. This is expected to gradually disappear over several months, but it is possible that all of the sensations may not return. Rarely nerve injury may occur, resulting in long term or possibly permanent numbness and/or pain in the scalp.
Irregular or uneven or delayed hair growth – Most transplanted hairs are shed after each session, over a period of 2-8 weeks. Generally within 3-4 months, new hair growth begins. This may occur at irregular rates, with some hairs coarser, finer, darker, or lighter in colour, or different in textures than the characteristics of the original hair. In most instances, this eventually normalises. However it may take 18 months or more from the starting point before aesthetically satisfactory results are seen.
Epidermoid cysts – These are small sterile cysts which occur when a new graft has been accidentally placed “piggy-back” on top of a small amount of skin material which was trapped at the bottom of the new recipient hole. If they occur, they are simply treated with a tiny incision under local anaesthesia.
Foliculitis – Is an uncommon problem in which hair follicles become infected with bacteria. Folliculitis usually appears in the postoperative period. The associated symptoms include redness around the grafts, pustules around emerging hairs, and itching. There may be some associated loss of hair in the involved follicles, but since the problem is localised to individual hair follicles, the loss is rarely significant from a cosmetic standpoint. The treatment consists of oral antibiotics that may be given for an extended period of time.
Infection – Infections are very rare because of rich blood supply to the scalp and the sterile, surgical techniques employed, But if occur, it will be treated with a course of antibiotics.
Scarring – Very occasionally In FUT procedures, especially in people with “stretchy” skin, a donor scar will be somewhat wider than normal. If any donor scars are evident when the process is completed, they can be removed at the completion of the transplants. Some people form “keloids” when they heal, and we attempt to determine that each of our patients does not do this, by noting other past scars on their body. Possibility of visible marks in the skin from sutures. In some cases scars may require surgical revision or treatment.