After-Care Instructions After a Hair Transplant
Following a hair transplant, many surgeons have differing ways to manage and guide a patient through that process so if you are not my patient I always differ to your surgeon who did your procedure. For my patients, here are the basic things to know in your after care.
Immediately following the procedure, there can be a little tightness and soreness in the donor area. It may be worth taking a few prescribed narcotic medications as necessary. Many individuals find that they do not need anything but if you are starting to get some achiness in the back, by all means take some Vicodin as needed. However, if you need to be on it for more than a day or so it is worth starting on stool softeners to avoid any constipation. If your discomfort is very mild, only take plain Tylenol (acetaminophen) as needed but do not combine it with Vicodin as it already contains acetaminophen in it and you do not want to overdose.
Icing the forehead and the donor area for about 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first day or shortly thereafter can alleviate discomfort and also help to reduce potential swelling. It is important that no ice be applied directly to the grafted area however. Sleeping upright in a lounge chair can also be helpful, especially if the crown is done so as not to harm the grafted area for the first night.
If there is any bleeding that occurs in the grafted or donor area, just hold some pressure and it will tend to stop. If any grafts become dislodged, you can bring them into the office but most likely they will have lost their viability by that point. That is why it is important not to rub the grafted area in the first 24 to 48 hours and still to be careful during the first week of healing. Also, that is why it is advised not to shower for the first 24 hours to allow what is known as a fibrin clot to seal the grafts in. Showering thereafter for the first week can be done once to twice a day with low shower pressure. It does not matter what kind of shampoo you use. However, you should not use the chlorohexidine solution (used to minimize the chance of methicillin-resistant staph. Aureus) that we gave you to be used for the first 48 hours leading up to the procedure.
Wearing a baseball cap can be done but we must show you how to put it on so as not to dislodge any grafts, especially for the first few days. After the first week, any remaining scabs can be vigorously rubbed so as to remove them, and that should be encouraged. If scabs remain for more than 2 weeks, it is not ideal for graft growth. Leaving a shampoo or conditioner in your hair for 5 to 15 minutes before showering can soften them and help to dislodge the scab. It is normal to see hairs also come out with the scabs at this point but rest assured your grafts are still protected.
Sutures are removed 10 days following the procedure, and my office staff has been trained to do so very gingerly so you should not feel any discomfort. If you are more interested in understanding the nature of the recovery in terms of how you feel and how you will look, please review the related blog that I wrote on the subject or watch some of the recovery diaries that I have posted on this Web site.
Samuel M. Lam, MD, FACS, a board certified hair transplant surgeon in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about Dr. Lam’s hair transplant procedures, or to schedule a consultation please call 1-888-866-3388, or visit hairtx.com for more info. To ask Dr Lam a question please visit our hair loss forum.