Around the second week following your hair transplantation surgery, you may experience some hair transplant shedding. This type of shedding is known as shock hair loss, or recipient-site effluvium .
This is nothing to worry about! It is normal to experience shock loss after a hair transplant. Although your newly transplanted hair appears to be falling out, the hair follicles are healthy and will grow again.
Find out more about shock loss after hair transplant surgery and when you can expect to see noticeable hair growth.
There are 2 types of hair transplantation techniques to choose from: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
FUE hair transplant surgery is a modern hair transplant technique with extremely good results that is cosmetically more appealing than Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT), where a scar may be left in the donor area.
During an FUE transplant individual follicles or small clumps of 2-3 follicles depending on the natural hair density, are carefully removed with a specialist tool and shifted to the bald site to rebuild the hair-growing potential of the bald area.
During a FUT procedure a strip of hair is removed, usually from the back of the head. This provides the entire supply of donor hair follicles.
Even with advanced suturing techniques, there is usually a visible scar which will impact the shortness to which the hair can be cut without the scar being seen.
In both types of hair transplant surgery, a local anaesthetic is used during the procedure to minimise discomfort. Anaesthetic is used in the donor site (where the hair follicle is being removed) and at the graft site (where the incisions to embed the hair follicle into the scalp are made).
Once the follicle falls dormant (goes into the resting phase), in order to heal and establish itself on your scalp, the transplanted hair will be shed. It’s not a sign of a failed hair transplant, and it doesn’t mean that the follicles are being rejected from their new locations.
Shock hair loss is particularly common in women with female pattern hair loss following their hair transplant [1, 3]. It typically occurs between two to four weeks after hair restoration surgery. Patients often lose most, if not all, of the new implants at this stage. As we say though, it’s not permanent! Once the follicle is settled into the scalp it will begin to grow new hair.
Shock hair loss can also occur on male scalps, again within the two to four-week postoperative window. Your hair will begin to grow again and within the year the loss should have settled down as the hair begins to regrow thicker than before.
Research suggests shock loss occurs as a result of anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium, or a combination of both .
Telogen effluvium may occur as a result of trauma to the scalp during surgery and can begin anywhere from a few days to a couple of months after hair restoration surgery. It occurs particularly where hair grafts have been implanted between and around existing natural or ‘native’ hair.
In rare cases, shock hair loss occurs due to a reaction to anaesthetic. Again, should this occur the traumatised follicles will begin to grow again once they have recovered from the surgery. Find out more about hair loss after surgery.
The new hairs will gradually break through the scalp from around four months after your hair transplant. They won’t be visible at first, although you’ll be able to feel them with your fingertips. They will also grow at different rates, slowly maturing for up to a year or eighteen months before you see the final result of your hair restoration surgery. Shock hair loss is a normal stage of the development of new hair grafts.
While shock hair loss sounds dramatic, the hair shedding is almost always temporary. So, although it might cause you some anxiety initially, as long as you are following your post-surgery care advice, there is no need to worry and the hair will grow back thick, full, and healthy.
Most qualified, experienced surgeons boast a graft survival rate of at least 90% . It takes a few weeks (or even months) for the new growth to come through.
Shock hair loss is part of the process of the cultivation of new, healthy hairs. The good news however is that the loss is always temporary. All the hairs will regrow alongside the new implants. Both donor and recipient sites can be affected post-operatively and, in most cases of female hair loss, will take around 9-12 months to grow back.
Some research suggests hair growth drugs like Minoxidil and Finasteride can reduce the risk of shock hair loss if they’re used around the time of surgery . You may also be able to mask your shock hair loss with hair thickening spray.
During the regrowth period, the hairs will initially be thin and colourless. Over the course of a year, they will start to thicken, darken and mature. Applying Minoxidil lotion during this period can encourage new hair regrowth. Minoxidil works by reinvigorating shrunken hair follicles. By increasing their size, they are able to grow stronger and thicker hair and recover from transplant surgery faster.
At the Wimpole Clinic in London we have been performing expert hair restoration procedures for over 30 years. Patients are bound to feel anxious about shock hair loss and the results of their hair transplant as even the idea of the procedure may produce all kinds of worries.
Our experienced consultation teams can take you through what to expect following the hair transplant procedure before you decide whether to opt for surgery.
Book a free consultation to discuss any questions or concerns you have about the hair transplant process.
If you are unsure about what to ask your hair loss surgeon, check out our list of questions you really want to ask before getting a hair transplant.
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