Following your hair transplant, it is critical that you follow your doctor’s advice. And, while you’re willing to do it when it means your hair transplant will be successful, do you ever wonder why some of the advice is given at all? Read on for more information on some of the most common post-operative instructions patients are advised on.
To start, on top of our not-to-do list comes smoking. When it comes to the effects on your lungs, we all know that smoking is bad for your health. The same is true for alcohol. Both smoking and alcohol thin the blood, which increases the risk of bleeding during surgery or other treatments. Alcohol can also affect heart rate and breathing rate (slowing them down), making recovery from an operation or treatment more difficult.
Let’s dive into it into more detail.
Risks of smoking after a hair transplant;
The general effects of smoking on the body are well documented. Concerns about the effects of smoking on your scalp and newly transplanted hair grafts can be divided into two categories: Bad wound healing and lack of blood flow to the hair grafts.
A healthy blood flow helps to create an environment that is conducive to proper healing and hair growth. You’ve literally just had thousands of tiny incisions made in your head, so getting those to heal properly in the first few weeks is critical to giving your hair grafts the best chance of survival.
Smoking tobacco constricts blood vessels, and the carbon monoxide in smoke reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. When this occurs, your body’s ability to heal is hampered. This can make it easier for infections to enter the body and can also have an impact on scarring.
If the body is unable to heal quickly, scabs or crusts may remain on the hair grafts for an extended period of time, reducing the oxygen supply and increasing the likelihood of failure (not growing).
Chronic smokers are most at risk for these issues, but any amount of smoking has an effect on the body, so most doctors err on the side of caution and advise against smoking for a period before and after a hair transplant.
Because there haven’t been many studies done specifically analyzing the link between smoking and hair transplants, the exact length of time one should refrain from smoking before and after a hair transplant isn’t known, but common recommendations range from 1 month to 3 days before a hair transplant to 1 week to 1 month afterwards.
Risks of drinking alcohol after a hair transplant;
The effects of drinking alcohol are not just limited to the mind, but also have an effect on the blood. Alcohol can cause thinning of the blood, have an effect on your blood’s ability to clot, along with other effects on your body. If you are going to drink, make sure you do not drink too much and for a limited number of days. However, never on the day of your treatment. The blood thinning can lead to problems even on smaller wounds, causing excessive bleeding during the hair transplant. Therefore, your doctor will ask you to limit the consumption of anything that can thin the blood further (this is why you must also check with your doctor about any blood-thinning medication, products or vitamins you take).
Alcohol can also interfere with the local anesthesia used during your hair transplant.
You will almost certainly be advised to limit your alcohol consumption for a period of time following the hair transplant. The increased risk of bleeding due to thinned blood is still a concern, but the bigger issue is that alcohol can interact with the antibiotics you’ll be given to keep you from getting sick.
Good sleep and nutrition will also aid in your recovery during the after care phase. Alcohol interferes with both by disrupting sleep patterns and preventing your body from absorbing certain nutrients required for proper healing.
So, while it may be tempting to have a pint before your procedure if you’re nervous, or afterwards to celebrate, it’s best to stick to your doctor’s alcohol recommendations.
The risks of sexual intercourse after a hair transplant
You should probably limit your exercise or any activity that would make you sweat during the first two weeks, and the same concerns apply to a roll in the hay. During sex, your blood pressure rises, and there is an increased risk of bleeding. However, no extensive research has been conducted to test this hypothesis.
The most serious concern is that your newly transplanted grafts will be hit and pulled out while it is hot and humid (which will lead to a stream of blood from your head which is admittedly less sexy).
It can take anywhere from 4 to 12 days for the grafts to become permanently embedded, so avoid touching the transplanted area, sleep with a travel pillow to limit contact between your head and the pillow, be extra cautious when getting in and out of cars, and, according to some doctors, wait a few days before having sex again.
The risks of sun exposure after a hair transplantation
The most serious concern is that your newly transplanted grafts will be hit and pulled out while it is hot and humid (which will lead to a stream of blood from your head, which is admittedly less sexy and not safe).
It can take anywhere from 4 to 12 days for the grafts to become permanently embedded, so do not touch the transplanted area (recipient area is usually the vertex or the hair line in male patients), sleep with a travel pillow to limit contact between your head and the pillow, be extra cautious when getting in and out of cars, and, according to some doctors, wait a few days before you wear an over the head slim fit shirt again, or having sex again.
Sunburn is another issue to be concerned about. As previously stated, you will have thousands of small incisions on your head. It will take time for the skin around these wounds to regenerate, the type of skin cells that darken to protect us from harmful sun rays. If the wounds were exposed to the sun, before the skin cells have had time to regenerate, the healing process may be hampered, and excess scarring may result.
The sun may also be able to penetrate deeper tissue layers, which heal more slowly than surface skin tissue. If you get a sunburn on your scalp before the deeper layer has had a chance to heal, the tissues, as well as the hair follicle, can be damaged.
The risks of entering a sauna or taking steam baths after a hair transplant
Sauna or steam baths are commonplace for some people, but sweating from a sauna or steam bath can cause the same problems as sweating from being in the sun.
They are bacteria-infested environments, and the incisions from the hair transplant can be easy entry points for infection.
Heat can also dilate blood vessels, causing post-operative redness to last longer than usual. It is usually recommended that you avoid going into either for 14 days to a month.
Risks of swimming after a hair transplant
Many people choose Turkey for their hair transplant because it allows them to turn their trip into a vacation with thoughts of sun, sand, and swimming. It is possible to swim in a pool without submerging your head, but you never know when a random splash from someone practicing their best cannonball will wash over you.
Pool chlorinated water can damage or even kill hair grafts (follicles), as well as infect your donor area, so you should avoid swimming immediately after your hair transplant.
Fresh water can contain contaminants, and while many doctors used to recommend saltwater for a variety of ailments, the ocean is no longer as clean as it once was, so both water sources can be a source of infection. If any sand from the beach ends up on your transplanted area, it can be an irritant.
The standard recommendation is to spend at least 14 days sitting by the pool’s edge (under an umbrella out of the sun, of course).
The after care instructions provided by your nurse, doctor and the hospital, following a FUE or DHI hair transplant, may appear to be an inconvenience and annoyance. But given the physical, financial, and time investment you’ve made, the instructions are essential to give you the best chance of healing and to give your hair the best chance to grow again. If you were to have any further questions about the precautions you must take, after your return, your Global Medical Care team is always happy to assist you.
After all, what’s a few weeks or months compared to years of increased self-esteem?
- On 17/03/2022