Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know
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Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on May 23, 2022

Over 650,000 people get hair transplants every year, globally [1]. However, not all of these transplant processes go as smoothly as patients would hope.

Unless you go to a trusted, professional clinic, you could be putting yourself at risk of experiencing a hair transplant infection.

There are many reasons why you might experience some sort of infection after a hair transplant procedure, but there are ways that you can prevent any negative side effects from occurring.

Keep on reading to find out more about hair transplants, infections and your transplant recovery timeline.

What are the main types of hair transplant procedures?

There are two main types of hair transplant procedures that most men and women who suffer from hair loss [2] will choose: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

Using the FUT method, surgeons use local anaesthesia and remove grafts of hair from areas of the scalp where hair is growing healthily, which will be transplanted to areas where balding is being experienced.

FUE uses a similar process, but during this procedure, surgeons will remove each healthy hair follicle one by one. This is normally the preferred method for people as it results in minimal scarring and appears slightly more natural than the FUT procedure.

The risk of infection is much higher with FUT transplants [3], but FUE is not completely risk-free – there are other complications that can arise like keloids and scars if you don’t get your procedure performed by a professional surgeon.

The same risks of infections are present with FUE / FUT beard and eyebrow transplants.

How do you know if your hair transplant is infected?

Slight discomfort and redness after a hair transplant are pretty normal, but infections are much rarer [4].

Hair transplants involve making incisions into the skin and, like any wound, you need to be careful that microbes don’t enter these wounds and cause an infection.

If your hair transplant wounds do get infected, you’ll start to notice some of the following symptoms around 3–7 days after your surgery [5]:

  • Swelling
  • Oozing pus
  • Redness or discolouration
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of these symptoms, and they don’t start to calm down after a few days, you could even start to experience fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

What do hair transplant infections look like? 

Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic Hair Transplant Infection: Everything You Need To Know, Wimpole Clinic

What can cause hair transplant infections?

There is a range of different reasons why you might experience infection after your hair transplant, the most common being improper hygiene, excessive scabbing and underlying medical conditions you have.

After your procedure, your surgeon will advise you on the best way to care for your hair. If you don’t follow the instructions that are given to you, the chances of infection significantly increase.

You’ll be advised to care for the wounds and wash your hair on a regular schedule while your wounds are healing. You should also always wash your hands before touching your healing wounds as it’s very easy to transfer infection-causing microbes.

With scabs and crust, this is a normal occurrence when you have hair transplant surgery and your wounds are healing. But, if you’re experiencing excessive crusting [3], you may find yourself itching the wounds more which transfers bacteria.

Finally, certain conditions can make you more susceptible to wound infections. These include:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • HIV
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Severe obesity

How to treat hair transplant infections

If you’re experiencing a hair transplant infection, you can get advice from your surgeon, but if things are severe you might want to visit your doctor.

You may be prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat the infection in some circumstances. 

However, your infection could just as easily be treated by exfoliating the scalp daily using a warm compress and shampooing twice daily to keep the scalp clean.

How can you prevent hair transplant infections?

No one wants to experience an infection after their hair transplant as it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, but luckily there are easy ways that you can prevent this from happening:

  1. Get your hair transplant procedure at a trusted, professional clinic with good hygiene practices
  2. Follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your surgeon
  3. Take any medication as prescribed, if necessary
  4. Avoid touching your wounds – if you do need to, make sure to wash your hands
  5. Don’t take part in any strenuous exercise or activity until your surgeon says it’s OK
  6. Attend any aftercare appointments your surgeon offers you

If you follow all of these tips, your hair transplant should heal nicely without any infection.

Complications following hair transplant infection

Folliculitis

Bacterial infection can cause hair follicles to become inflamed. This condition is known as bacterial folliculitis. It manifests as red bumps around your follicles, which typically appear a few weeks or months after your surgery (although folliculitis is also a common scalp condition in people who haven’t had a hair transplant).

Folliculitis can also occur without infection — this is sterile folliculitis. If you suspect you may have folliculitis, speak to your hair transplant aftercare team. They may be able to recommend a treatment to reduce inflammation and, if necessary, fight the infection.

Necrosis

Necrosis is a type of tissue damage that can be caused by severe infections. Infection increases the risk of ischemia, a condition that reduces blood flow to particular areas of the body. If the lack of blood flow continues, the tissue may ultimately die — this is known as necrosis.

When scalp tissue is affected by necrosis, it becomes black and leathery. Because this condition is irreversible, the affected tissue may need to be removed by a surgeon. If you notice severe localised pain on your scalp following your hair transplant, seek help from your surgical team.

How long should it take for my hair transplant to heal?

Recovering from hair transplant surgery will start as soon as your hair transplant procedure has finished but it may take quite some months before you’re able to enjoy the full results.

It normally takes between 5–7 days for wounds to heal and for any swelling or redness to die down. Then after two weeks, you might notice your hair falling out – which is a completely normal part of the process.

Although the healing process will have finished by this point, it can take 4–5 months before you’re able to get a good idea of what your new head of hair will look like. It can sometimes take as long as 18 months for your full hair transplant to complete.

Trusted hair transplant specialists at Wimpole Clinic

Get your hair transplant procedure at a trusted, hygienic and professional clinic – such as the Wimpole Clinic.

We have helped thousands of men and women with their hair transplants, and we’d love to help you on your transplant journey too.

Start off by booking a no-obligation consultation call with one of our specialist surgeons. During the call, we’ll take you through the hair transplant process and help you decide the best options for you.

Book your free consultation with Wimpole Clinic today.

 

References:

 

[1] https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/every-13th-man-has-a-hair-transplant-according-to-bookimed-study-1028724168 

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684510/ 

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371733/ 

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4212293/ 

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560533/

Images Sources:

[1] https://www.healthline.com 

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on May 23, 2022
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on May 23, 2022

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