If you’re considering a hair transplant, your doctor has probably mentioned Minoxidil before. It’s often recommended as a less invasive step before considering the procedure and is one of two FDA-approved treatments for men’s hair loss on the market.
However, for those who do undergo a hair transplant, the question arises: do you need to use Minoxidil after the procedure?
Minoxidil is a hair loss medication, available as a tablet, liquid, or foam treatment, which works by widening blood vessels in the scalp. Both male and female hair loss can be improved with Minoxidil, although it is not suitable for pregnant women.
Results aren’t limited to the scalp, either: studies have indicated that Minoxidil is also effective for beard loss, helping both cisgendered and transgendered men improve beard growth. Despite not being specifically intended for such use, initial research has also shown that the treatment can help eyebrow hair loss too.
No. While Minoxidil is so far proving a useful addition to the hair transplant procedure, it is not essential and does not affect the success of the procedure itself.
However, for those with hereditary hair loss or pattern baldness, Minoxidil is a highly useful treatment to help you keep your new look. Hair transplants won’t stop future shedding, and to avoid new bald spots or a deteriorating hairline, preventative treatments such as Minoxidil are strongly recommended.
Studies into Minoxidil-aided hair transplant recovery are limited yet promising. Based on these initial results and scientists’ understanding of how Minoxidil works, the product is generally recommended as a useful addition to the transplant process – especially for patients suffering from androgenic alopecia
There are three key benefits of Minoxidil after a hair transplant which have been repeatedly supported by studies:
Most patients experience a period of hair transplant shedding around 2 – 4 weeks after the procedure. This is known as telogen effluvium, or shock hair loss, and is temporary – the trauma of the procedure causes both the newly transplanted hairs and those nearby to fall out, leaving the follicle root safely embedded in the scalp. In the following weeks and months, those hairs will regrow.
However, several studies have noted that many patients who are treated with topical Minoxidil might not experience shedding after a hair transplant.
One study examined the progression of 16 patients who began 2% Minoxidil four weeks before surgery and continued it for three months after. 71% of the grafts continued to grow from implantation rather than shedding and regrowing.
Similarly, a study of 40 hair transplant patients compared the recovery with Minoxidil versus normal shampooing. While Minoxidil did not affect the percentage of hair survival before and after transplantation, 60% of the grafts treated with topical Minoxidil experienced no shock loss shedding.
While shock loss is usually temporary, these findings have led scientists to hypothesise that Minoxidil contributes to a better, smoother evolution of grafts in their new location. It also means patients don’t have to go through the stress of seeing their new hairs fall out, a development that can be worrying even for those expecting it.
Studies and discussions with medical professionals indicate that using Minoxidil significantly speeds up the regrowth of newly transplanted hair. In some cases, the topical treatment more than halved the usual recovery period – patients experienced regrowth less than 4 weeks after surgery, rather than the usual 3 – 5-month period.
This acceleration is due to Minoxidil’s believed effect on the phases of hair growth. The product leads to longer, thicker hair by shortening the telogen (resting) phase of hair growth and subsequently extending the anagen (growing) phase.
While a hair transplant is a highly effective solution to the problem of past hair loss, it does nothing to stop future thinning, shedding, and balding. For those under 35, and whose hair loss is caused by genetics or pattern baldness, it is highly likely to continue and worsen.
For patients treating pattern baldness with transplant surgery, it is unlikely that the transplanted hairs will experience later balding. However, all other areas vulnerable to balding will continue to suffer hair loss, such as the crown, hairline, and temples. This can leave unnatural, patchy-looking hair growth as the transplanted areas of hair are marooned by new balding areas.
Minoxidil controls and limits this further loss, helping maintain as much hair as possible. However, it is only effective as long as you take the treatment and so patients with severe and ongoing hair loss may need Minoxidil for years.
Not treating future hair loss is one of the biggest reasons people may require a second hair transplant.
Because few studies exist around Minoxidil and hair transplant recovery, there is no hard and fast rule about when to stop and start. Most clinics agree that you should stop Minoxidil treatment around 1 week before surgery, although doctors may decide differently on a case-by-case basis.
Your doctor may also ask you to stop several weeks before the surgery so that they can properly see the extent of your hair loss issues, which are hidden by Minoxidil treatment.
Find out more about what happens when you stop Minoxidil treatment.
Patients of the Wimpole Clinic are recommended to start Minoxidil around 4 weeks after their transplant. This time allows the follicle to become anchored so that the application of Minoxidil won’t damage the transplanted hairs. Speak to your doctor if you notice any redness or irritation – they may suggest oral Minoxidil instead of topical.
Minoxidil should then be taken for at least 4 months to see the effects of the medication. For those with genetic or pattern baldness, it should be taken continuously to keep preventing further hair loss. Stopping the medication will, unfortunately, cause your hair loss to return.
Patients are recommended to use 1ml of Minoxidil solution, or ½ a capful of foam, twice a day. Continual, regular application is essential for effective results. Multiple studies have indicated that lower dosages, such as only applying once a day or only a few days a week, will have a direct, negative impact on results.
At the Wimpole Clinic, our hair transplant success rate is 97-100%. We work with you to create a natural-looking hairline you’ll love and answer all the questions you really want to ask about hair transplants. We pride ourselves on our patients being thrilled with their results.
Part of our strategy includes the prevention of further hair loss using Minoxidil, as well as other medications, such as Finasteride.
In some cases, we may defer hair transplant surgery until a patient’s rate of hair loss reduces significantly so that they may enjoy their newly acquired results, so long of course, as they do not experience side effects.
While a patient does not need to take Minoxidil after a hair transplant we believe this is a good course of action for patients to consider as part of their hair loss management.
To learn more about Wimpole Clinic, take a look at our hair transplant clinic reviews, and our hair transplant before and after gallery.
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