There are a sundry of things that one can do after hair transplant, because basically, unbelievable it may seem, it’s not over yet when the surgery is done. Most probably, this is where the recipient of care plays his role the most. If the just-transplanted individual forgets his duties, then everything else will surely fail, including the viability of the transplant.
A hair transplant involves removing hair follicles from its original place, the donor site, and transferring it to the balding areas of the body (the recipient site). It is used primarily to remedy male pattern baldness, however, hair transplantation serves numerous purposes today like restoring eyelashes and eyebrows, or putting on beard, chest, and pubic hair, or filling in scars caused by accidents and marks from previous surgeries.
No matter where the operative site is, the basic principles of hair transplantation is still applied all throughout. The advancement of Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is still the preferred method of operation, where groups of one to four hairs are harvested, including the sebaceous glands, nerves, some muscles, and other minute vellus hairs. This technique provides better success and promotes less rejection.
Safekeeping the Transplanted Hair
Even during the planning stage to the moment of operation, everything is under the supervision and protection of the health providers, especially the surgeon. The transplant team discusses the treatment plans, the risks involved, and the prognosis of the therapy, while ensuring that the patient receives the best care. They provide education to orient individuals of the team’s and the patient’s duties to guarantee a successful and lasting result.
However, after hair transplant, the patient is now the sole manager of his body. The success and longevity of the transplanted hair depends wholly on the dedication and discipline of the patient to keep it under utmost responsibility. It is best that while the physician checks on him regularly, the concerned patient must also know of the fundamental roles he is reckoned.
- Keeping the bandages intact
Modern hair transplant methods use only less, if not none, bandages over the operative site. Bandages protect the implant while it heals, and siphons any blood or drainage that trickles down the wound. Depending on the surgeon, various bandages are used to cover the site, but mostly heaps of gauze are placed to keep it secured and the area pressed to avoid bleeding.
The drawback to having bandages is that it obviously marks a person that he has gone surgery. It may appear that the patient has something unknown, a wound or not, and it can be very disturbing. Furthermore, some patient’s develop issues with their images with the bandages on. Yet, one is not free from having dressings over their heads, with only minor exemptions. While this is not a pleasing idea, it is better that one should know how to take good care of the bandage.
Normally, a day after the patient was sent home after surgery, he needs to go back to the surgeon to have a dressing change and to check on the site. He is likewise expected to keep the bandage clean, free from blood and drainage soaks, and still intact. If not advised, then patients must not shampoo hair unless told to do so, to minimize damaging the micrografts.
- Keeping the implants in situ
At most times, the transplanted hair follicles always stay in place freely. However, there are instances that the implants start falling out, especially those that were implanted last during the procedure. Supposedly, these transferred hair are glued to the scalp with the little help of the blood, which when exposed to air starts to coagulate.
During the operation, small incisions were made to the recipient site. The first few grafts transplanted then becomes fixated because the blood clotted. Moreover, because only tiny cuts were made, those that were transferred last were prone to falling out because they were not affixed tightly.
The first two days after the transplantation, the patient should be immensely careful. These grafts rarely fall out, but when it happens it can be easily positioned back given that the patient is still in the clinic. However, there is nothing much that one can do if it happens after the patient left the clinic.
Nevertheless, grafts that fell out have a chance to be saved if soaked in a saline mixture, and refrigerated at four to eight degrees centigrade. Some clinics and skilled surgeons can put these back in. This is only a possibility though, it is not a guaranteed success.
One other matter of importance in keeping the grafts in place is how to position oneself during sleep. The transplant team can give suggestions that are suitable for the safety of the graft. Generally, patients are advised to sleep in a sitting position to avoid contact with a pillow, and to refrain from shampooing and touching the graft. At most, patients are not to shampoo for 3 days until the next clinic visit.
- The Critical Days (First 2 days)
It is expected to develop tenderness and swelling on the operative site, as with any surgeries. These symptoms last for about a week or more. The swelling can be lessened by sleeping in a sitting posture, or in a semi-upright or Fowler’s position if there is trouble with sitting. Applying ice packs can reduce the swelling, but should not be directed towards the site.
The risk for developing infection is exceedingly high during this time and patients should keep himself away from any dirty surroundings. They are discouraged to go swimming in public pools or dirty waters. The physician may prescribe an antibiotic cream to apply on the operative site to limit the chances of contracting infection. Most importantly, patients are advised to do meticulous hand hygiene to limit the risk of transferring the bacteria from hands to the transplanted area.
When shampooing is already allowed, it is advisable that this must be done in a sink rather than under the shower. Crusts should be dissolved, and hair must be air dried. Hair dryers may blow away the implants, since some of it are not yet intact. Exercising can make the patient sweat a lot, and washing the hair after a sweaty activity must be done as soon as possible. This is to keep away from infection since bacteria grow in moist surroundings.
- The Succeeding Months
Removal of sutures are commonly done seven days after the surgery and it is done in the clinic. In some instances, any doctor can do this procedure especially those that live far away from the clinic.
Two to six weeks after the transplant, hair follicles usually shed their hair. It is almost certain and there is nothing one can do about it. Nevertheless, new hair will begin to grow two months after surgery, although not all grafts will grow at the same time. The growth may look fragmented but it is usually normal.
The result of the transplant is not usually felt on the first few weeks after the surgery. Hair growth takes a little time and styling it may not be done until it is long enough. It is expected that it will take 6 to 9 months before the result of the transplant is determined. During these times, hair that grows are duller and frizzier than the normal. Anyhow, after one year the hair follicles will start growing good quality hair.
Convincingly, the patient is in total control of his hair after hair transplant. What he does, and will do, following a hair transplant will reflect on the growth and resilience of the hair. It is a rather disappointing circumstance to lose these hairs again. Losing them is identical to throwing money to the trash. Plus, it is a painful and draining procedure. Hence, proper care should be done awfully to sustain the life of these hairs and avoid doing the transplant again.