Managing Post Surgery

A concern for many patients is what they’ll feel after the surgery. But, as is often the case, your actual experience will depend on the procedure you undergo: strip harvesting or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

If you have had the strip harvesting procedure, there is a possibility of throbbing pain on the back of the scalp when the anaesthesia wears off. Your doctor will prescribe proper medications to manage any such pain. These medications can be used for the first few nights so you can sleep by resting your head in a comfortable position. You’ll also be pleased to hear that your daily functions won’t be stopped by any pain. For most patients, it normally takes two to three days after surgery to return to normal activities, but it is possible that some patients experience pain from the sutures or staples [that have been used to close your wounds]; it is a fact that staples are more uncomfortable than sutures but they can produce much better wound-healing. This will diminish over time and most certainly when they are removed.

After the procedure, you will likely have a one-inch bandage around your head (although this is not always the case) and slight bleeding may occur. This should stop quickly, but if for some reason it doesn’t, call the doctor.

In my case the doctor gave me some very good advice. On the night following the operation, place two pillows on top of each other, on top them place a towel that had been folded in half and then rolled up. Now, when you lay down ensure that the rolled up towel is at the base of you head. In this way the wound from the operation will not be in contact with any surface and will therefore minimize any pain. In my personal case, I slept in the this manner for the first five days, after the operation, before I felt comfortable enough to sleep in my normal position.

If your procedure has involved FUE the wounds are tiny and will close on their own within a day or so. Though they will swell, bleeding is minimal and healing is very fast. The best thing about this is there is rarely any significant pain, and bandage is required.

You need to keep in mind that a hair transplant is a surgical procedure and it has some risks. Although they’re minimal, they’re still worthy of consideration.

The vast majority of procedures are performed under local anaesthetic and this avoids the risks associated with using General anaesthetics. However, there are potential risks associated with using adrenaline with local anaesthesia and you need to be aware of these.

These risks include: allergic reactions, sensitivity to epinephrine in patients who use heart or blood pressure medications (beta-blockers), irregular heartbeat, heart attack and fainting. The risk of these is minimal but your doctor will discuss these with you and calm you about any concerns you may have.

Any wounds resulting from surgery will take time to heal. The recipient will show signs of superficial crusting, redness, or pinkness. This will last for a few weeks. Some areas of skin around the suture edges may crust, taking longer to heal. Such crusting may be caused by a tight suture. A stretched, widened scar is possible, as is a thickened or raised scar. There may also be temporary swelling as well as discolouration or bruising.

The scalp may become numb in some places due to the cutting of the skins’ nerve fibres. This will also disappear gradually, but may take several months. This is one of the unfortunate consequences of strip harvesting and less commonly with FUE harvesting. If you find you need more than one hair transplant surgery, then there is an increased risk of severing a major nerve. This can produce a temporary or even a permanent sensory defect in the back of the head: the appointing of an experienced surgeon will help minimise this risk.

A small minority of patients have been known to experience post-surgical swelling in the forehead when grafts were placed in the frontal area. This was a common problem in the past but due to the advances in surgical technologies, but is less so nowadays. Swelling usually appears on the third or fourth day after surgery and can last for one or two days afterwards; however, this shouldn’t cause you pain. If it does though, the application of ice packs to the forehead a few times a day helps to reduce the swelling.

Though infection from hair transplantation surgery is rare, your doctor will give you an antibiotic at the beginning of the surgery. He may also suggest you use an antibacterial soap to wash your hair with before the surgery to help protect against infection. Washing with a good detergent shampoo will be equally effective. In very rare cases, infection may occur within the first fortnight following the surgery. If this occurs, antibiotic treatment will be necessary.