As with all medical procedures, there are certain things to expect after a hair transplant procedure. One such thing is hair transplant scabs which may appear within 24 to 48 hours post-surgery. These are perfectly normal, and with 650,000 people worldwide undergoing hair restoration surgery annually, they are to be expected. 
However, most people do not know what they are, why they form, or how to deal with them. Those undergoing hair transplant surgery should have an awareness of what to expect. Especially as hair transplant surgery is a permanent solution to hair loss problems. However, most are unaware of what to expect during their recovery time.
A study conducted by The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery found interesting results regarding hair transplantation. They discovered that the presence of crusting increased the risk of transplanted hair grafts being dislodged in the long-term, but could actually help preserve the grafts in the immediate days after surgery.
Thus it seems necessary to let the scabs form initially to aid with graft security. However, it is also important to know how to remove scabs before they hinder recovery. That means it is vital to follow post-surgery instructions.
Scabs can occur after a hair transplant procedure and are part of the natural healing process. Just like other scabs, these can be dry and crusty and are there to protect wounds. They are not the nicest thing to look at, but they help the scars to heal underneath.
The patient may opt for either a Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) hair transplant or a Follicular Unit Exclusion/Extraction (FUT) hair transplant. Both hair transplantation procedures take healthy hair follicles from another part of the patient’s scalp and transplant them into the affected areas.
With small incisions being made into the scalp, there will be some trauma to the skin. Like with all injuries, our bodies form blood clots to stop blood loss. Although soft to begin with, these clots harden and become crusty. It then protects the skin underneath as it heals.
This is precisely what happens in this surgical procedure. These usually appear within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Patients may also see some hair transplant swelling, and/or redness of the scalp.
Learn more about how hair transplants work to understand what else to expect with this type of surgery.
There can potentially be many issues with scabs after a hair transplant.
As scabs are healing wounds, these can be quite itchy at times. However, it is important not to scratch them as you could dislodge the grafts.
You also want to avoid infection as it is not expected after this procedure. Should you get an infection, this can have detrimental effects on the grafts. The risk is low – one study found infection and excessive bleeding in just 1.3% of patients. However, it is important to leave them alone when told.
It is vital to follow the aftercare instructions after hair transplant surgery. Your surgeon will give you precise guidelines to follow. You might also be able to use specific shampoo after a select number of days to wash your hair gently.
Many people worry that these crusts may affect the hair follicles after the graft. They do not generally affect follicles, but they should be removed if they do not fall off within the time frame.
If the scabs haven’t fallen off after 14 days, you should consider speaking to a doctor or your surgeon. However, you may not be shampooing vigorously enough and may be told to try this first.
Crusts are likely to be gone by day ten if the patient has followed the appropriate washing procedure after hair transplant surgery. Usually, scabs fall off between 7 and 14 days.
The scalp can be touched from day six– although the scabs should not be picked off. If you do need to touch them, you should pat them gently. Let them dry on their own and contact a doctor if they bleed excessively.
To soften the scalp and crust, wet your hair with warm water and massage your scalp gently with a conditioner. This should be done carefully to remove and potentially dislodge the dry skin. You should not use your nails during this process. 
It is important to note that some short hairs that were implanted may fall out with your scabs. This is expected, and you shouldn’t worry about it if there is no scalp bleeding. Do not try to remove them early, which could damage the hair follicle underneath.
Whilst transplant scabs may fall out on their own, you might need to remove them if they don’t seem to be dislodging. There are a few reasons why it is important to remove them.
These include reducing your itchiness – it can be tempting to scratch the itching area, but it is important not to. Proper growth of the grafts can be affected, as scabs can potentially hamper hair growth if not washed off.
It is also essential to remove them to prevent scarring. Whilst scabs remain, the chances of scratching at them are increased. Scratching and picking could lead to scarring or damaging the hair grafts implanted underneath.
While scabs may fall off naturally, it is essential to remember that the fall-off time will vary from person to person. However, if they are causing you concern, it is vital to ask for advice.
As you can see, scabs after hair transplant surgery are incredibly common. Many people have to deal with them after having the procedure. Fortunately, there are various ways to cope and make the process easier on yourself.
Hair transplant scabs are an essential part of the grafting process. Regardless, they mustn’t hinder the procedure. These should be removed through careful scalp washing or under a doctor’s supervision if they are stubborn.
The Wimpole Clinic prides itself on patient welfare before, during, and after every hair restoration procedure. Our aftercare is vital, and we will ensure you are guided throughout the healing process to ensure a successful recovery. Having been awarded Hair Transplant Clinic of the Year 2023, you can be assured you will get the best care.
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