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Hair Transplant Into Scar Tissue: Does It Work?

Major or visible scarring on your body can be distressing — and they’re extremely common. In the developed world, more than 100 million people acquire scars each year from surgery, trauma, or conditions like scarring alopecia [1]. No matter what causes it, scalp scarring can leave long-term marks that are difficult to hide.

Scarring is often stigmatised in society [2]. That’s why many people with scalp or facial scarring consider getting a hair transplant into scar tissue to cover them. In this article, you’ll discover:

  • if you can get a hair transplant into scar tissue
  • how hair transplants on scar tissue work
  • what type of scarring can be treated with a hair transplant.

Can you transplant hair into scar tissue?

Yes — you can have a hair transplant on a scar. But it’s often more complicated than a standard hair transplant.

Healthy hair follicles on unscarred skin are fed by strong blood supply, which provides them with the nutrients and vitamins needed for hair growth. The skin is also flexible and thin enough for hair to grow with ease.

Scar tissue is different. When your skin is damaged, the hair follicles are destroyed, so they can no longer produce hair. The tissue is also affected by poor blood flow and stiffness, which makes transplanting hair into scar tissue more challenging [3-4].

But it’s not impossible. Hair transplants into scar tissue often take longer, and you may need multiple rounds of surgery — but if you choose a qualified, experienced surgeon, you’re more likely to get results.

Hair transplant scar repair: how does it work?

The technique for transplanting hair into scar tissue is similar to traditional hair transplants. In a standard FUT or FUE procedure, your hair transplant surgeon extracts hair grafts — tiny clusters of follicles — from the side or back of your head. They then implant them into the thinning or balding areas (usually your crown and/or temple) where your follicles no longer produce hair.

But certain complications make hair transplants on scar tissue a more complex procedure.

Tissue stiffness and lack of visibility

When your skin is scarred, the hair follicles that existed in the original skin are usually lost. That means it’s more difficult to see where your original hairs grew. The best hair transplant surgeons make your new hair look as natural as possible by following the direction and placement of your original hairs, which is more difficult without existing follicles to guide them.

In addition, the stiffness of the tissue makes it harder to transplant hairs precisely. So hair transplants into scars are often more time-consuming and difficult to perform.

Poor blood flow compromises follicles

When follicles are transplanted into scar tissue, they must take root and connect with the surrounding capillaries before hair will begin to grow. Scar tissue is prone to poor blood supply, so it’s harder for transplanted follicles to get the nutrients needed for healthy hair growth [3-4].

Surgeons often leave more space between hair grafts on scar tissue so there’s enough blood supply to nourish the grafts.

Many patients who want a hair transplant on scar tissue need multiple surgeries [5]. This allows a surgeon to fill in the gaps from earlier grafts. Graft survival rates are also much lower on scarred skin, so you may need more than one hair transplant to get the coverage and density you want.

While scar tissue hair transplants aren’t always as straightforward as other procedures, there’s lots of evidence that they can be successful. See our tips for a successful hair transplant.

Hair transplant into scar tissue aftercare

You’ll need to take extra special care of hair grafts transplanted into scar tissue. This might include taking more time off work after a hair transplant, or waiting longer to exercise after a hair transplant. Allowing extra downtime after a hair transplant gives your follicles the best possible chance of survival in your scar tissue.

What type of scarring can be treated with a hair transplant?

Many different types of scars can be treated or covered with a hair transplant, including:

  • Burns
  • Surgical scarring — including hair transplant scars
  • Trauma scars
  • Scarring hair loss (also known as cicatricial alopecia)
  • Scars related to infection

One study found that transplanting hairs into scars caused by burns was more successful than in other types of scarring, perhaps because scar tissue is typically shallower than in other scar types [3].

hair transplant into scars: a female patient with burns pre and post hair transplant

A patient with burns scarring pre- and post-hair transplant (source: ABHRS).

Other researchers have had success in treating scarring hair loss with FUE surgery. Their results showed a high graft survival rate of almost 81%. This rivals survival rates on regular skin tissue, which can be as high as 90% with a skilled surgeon [6].

One case study showed that FUE can be used to successfully cover scarring alopecia caused by a scalp MRSA infection [7]. Learn more about hair transplant infections.

hair transplant into scars: male patient with mrsa scarring pre and post hair transplant

A patient with scarring following MRSA infection pre- and post-hair transplant (source: ABHRS).

Can I cover my FUT scar with another hair transplant?

FUT surgery involves removing a strip of skin from the donor area. The wound is then closed surgically, leaving a small scar.

If your surgeon doesn’t have the skill or experience to create a narrow or well-hidden scar, your FUT scar might be thick, raised, or visible through your hair. This can be a telltale sign that you’ve had hair transplant surgery — in fact, it’s one of the giveaways of Elon Musk’s hair transplant.

elon musk hair transplant scar

A hair transplant can cover up your FUT scar if you’re prepared to have additional surgery. But there are alternative ways to disguise an FUT scar, including scalp micropigmentation, changing your hairstyle, and using hair thickening sprays or hair fibres after FUE.

Can Minoxidil improve hair growth through scar tissue?

Minoxidil is a popular topical solution that’s proven to promote hair growth [8-9]. So can it improve hair growth through scar tissue?

The evidence isn’t clear on how well Minoxidil works for scarring alopecia [10]. But an animal study found that Minoxidil promoted blood vessel formation and encouraged follicle growth in skin affected by burns [11]. So it may be a first-line treatment option for those with thin scar tissue.

It’s also effective at promoting hair growth after an FUE transplant on scar tissue [12]. Because hair transplants into scar tissue have notoriously low survival rates, it’s essential to use a solution to encourage hair growth and stimulate blood flow to the scalp in the days and weeks after your hair transplant.

Hair transplant into scars: a permanent, natural-looking way to hide scalp scars

Hair transplants are a successful way to disguise scars on your face and scalp — if they’re performed by a skilled surgeon. If you choose a black market hair transplant in Turkey or elsewhere, you could end up with more scarring. Almost all ISHRS surgeons report that a quarter of their patients are looking for repairs after a hair transplant that’s gone wrong at a black market clinic [13].

Choosing a Harley Street hair transplant clinic ensures you’re working with the best hair transplant surgeons in the UK. At the Wimpole Clinic, we have more than 45 years’ experience providing fantastic FUE and FUT procedures — including hair transplants into scar tissue.

Explore our clinic, then book a free consultation to see how we can help you:

Hair Transplant Into Scar Tissue: Does It Work?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. Skin scarring
  2. The Psychology of Scars: A Mini-Review
  3. Hair Follicle Transplantation on Scar Tissue
  4. Treatment of Postsurgical Scalp Scar Deformity Using Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation
  5. Hair transplantation in burn scar alopecia
  6. Review of Factors Affecting the Growth and Survival of Follicular Grafts
  7. FUE Hair Transplantation- Scar Tissue Following MRSA Infection
  8. Minoxidil
  9. Rapid onset of action of minoxidil 5% topical solution in a 4-month German observational study on both patients and physicians
  10. Off-Label Use of Topical Minoxidil in Alopecia: A Review
  11. Effects of Minoxidil Gel on Burn Wound Healing in Rats
  12. A new approach to treating scarring alopecia by hair transplantation and topical minoxidil
  13. International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: 2022 Practice Census Results
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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