Modern hair transplants are not only impressive in terms of results and success rates, they’re also a safe and simple procedure with very short recovery times.
In the vast majority of cases, patients return to their normal daily lives within a few days of the operation, with minimal ongoing care required to help their skin and scalp to heal from the surgery.
However, as with any type of surgery, there can occasionally be complications that require additional attention. These tend to be very minor, or more serious cases are very rare, and they can usually be treated quickly or remedied by experienced teams that are used to dealing with the whole spectrum of cases.
It can be helpful to know about any potential risks or side-effects beforehand, so the Wimpole Clinic’s Medical Director and Principal Surgeon discusses some of the factors to be aware of if you are considering any type of hair transplant.
What can go wrong
According to Dr May, there are usually two types of problems that can occur after a hair transplant; medical and aesthetic.
Medical issues: Although hair transplants are an incredibly safe and relatively simple procedure, they are still a form of surgical operation and as such carry some risks. There may be medical issues that arise during the surgery itself, even though rare if conducted with highly trained and experienced surgeons, or there could be complications that develop in the days or weeks after the procedure, for example, infections of the scalp around the transplant site, or excessive soreness (usually due to the overharvesting of follicles).
Aesthetic issues: Although not a health or safety concern, a hair transplant can be classed as a failure if many of the donor follicles fail to take in their new site, or if the new hair growth doesn’t look natural and blend in well with the rest of the hair.
Why problems occur
As Dr May points out:
There are a number of reasons why medical problems may occur. In most cases, the issue will simply be down to the inherent risks of any surgery, such as how the patient will respond to the treatment, and how well they recover and heal.
But hair transplants carry lesser medical complications than maybe other surgeries, thus a huge part of the problem could be with the increase of some clinics operating without the highest standards, there may unfortunately be occasions when problems arise that could have been prevented by better medical conditions, training or experience of the clinic or surgeon.
In terms of aesthetic problems, these are invariably due to a lack of expertise on behalf of the surgeon or the clinic team, or poor communication between the clinic and the patient leading to a mismatch of expectations and results.
What to do
What does Dr May suggest if something does go wrong with your transplant?
In the first instance, contact your clinic and ask for their recommendations. Most reputable clinics will have in place a comprehensive follow-up service that can prevent or address any problems that develop after the surgery. Having a point of contact to keep in touch with, lead up to the surgery and post-care, is very important, and often this is the consultant and he or she should be accessible to you.
They will be familiar with the most common problems and will either advise you over the phone or make an appointment for you to return for an assessment. If this person is not available, you may need to consider other options.
If going back to your original clinic is not an option – for example, if you travelled abroad to a foreign clinic – schedule an appointment with a good reputable local clinic. They will be able to assess your situation and advise you accordingly. Good surgeons will also be able to remedy or repair any transplants that have been poorly carried out.
If severe health issues develop outside of normal office hours, always seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the urgency of the problem, contact your GP or local A&E services.
One final point Dr May is keen to highlight;
The vast majority of hair transplants are highly successful procedures that result in patients recovering quickly and well, and being delighted with their results.
Although there can never be any guarantees when it comes to any medical procedure, the best way to prevent any undue problems down the line is to ensure you choose a reputable clinic that adheres to the highest medical standards and includes a comprehensive aftercare and follow-up service.