Hair transplantation is inherently a very safe procedure. Although it can take a long time to perform, it is still minor skin surgery. People often ask about the risks of infection and bleeding but these risks are very low. We typically use sedatives, painkillers, and local anaesthetics, but we are very careful with medications, and we monitor you closely to ensure your safety.
Side effects of hair transplantation surgery are usually temporary and are more of a nuisance than a big problem. We have ways to prevent, minimize, or cope with all of the side effects.
Short-term common complications can include one or more of the following:
Manageable pain and discomfort in the donor area for a few days post-operatively. Swelling that starts in the recipient area but can migrate to the face because of gravity. Fewer than 10% of patients have significant swelling. Swelling peaks in the 4th to 5th day and usually resolves by the 7th day. Scab formation in the recipient area that may take up to 10 days to completely resolve.
Medium-term complications occur infrequently and include:
Pimples or persistent pinkness in the recipient area from ingrown hairs or reaction to hair shaft material. Fewer than 2% have much trouble. There are effective treatments if this happens. Without treatment, this problem could last for up to 4 months.
Temporary shedding of existing hair in the recipient and, even more rarely, in the donor areas. The greater the amount of existing hair in the donor area, the higher the chance of seeing some post-operative shedding. The result is thinning, not baldness. Shedding can be reduced by using medications to support the hair, but because of the hair growth cycle, it can take up to 6 months to recover if you get significant postoperative shedding. Numbness or tenderness in the recipient or donor areas. This usually resolves in a few weeks but it can sometimes take months for the nerves to fully recover.
Long-term complications such as permanent discolouration of the scalp or excessive scarring are, fortunately, quite rare.
What to Expect
Day of Surgery
Your hair transplant day will likely be much easier than you expect.
After you arrive, we will answer all your questions, take several photographs, and get you all set. Dr. Simmons will then review the entire plan with you before starting your hair transplant.
You will likely prefer to have some medications to keep you comfortable during the initial local anaesthesia and, because of this, you may not remember all of the initial procedure. You will be awake and talking throughout, but afterwards it will seem as if you had been asleep. When the grafts are removed or are transplanted, you will not feel pain. Most patients say it is easier than going to the dentist.
Hair transplantation involves a continuous process of harvesting, preparing, and transplanting grafts, and so it takes many hours to complete. You may not feel that it is a long day, though. During the day, you may have a couple of naps, and for the remainder of the time you can watch movies, listen to music, or chat. You will have breaks to stretch, go to the washroom, and eat lunch. Our staff will also have rotating breaks. Some of our hard-working patients have said it was the most relaxing day they had had in months.
At the end of the day, you will feel comfortable and alert. Although you may feel fine, you will not be permitted to drive, your reflexes will be a bit too slow. Dr. Simmons will check on you after you are home, and you will have his contact numbers should you have any questions.
For a more detailed description of the day, click here to download a PDF file.