The most frequent procedure used to treat the symptoms of androgenetic alopecia in both men and women is a hair transplant. The donor area, from which the grafts are taken, and the recipient area, from which hair follicles are retrieved from the donor area, are both involved in this treatment.
A safe and effective hair transplant depends heavily on the treatment of the donor area. Learn everything there is to know about the donor place, including any risks and how you can minimize them.
How FUT And FUE Affect Donor Areas
The scalp’s occipital and temporal regions are used to harvest a strip of donor follicles for FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) hair transplant surgery. If the hair is worn at least half an inch long, the linear scar left by the donor site closure is usually not noticeable.
Trichophytic closure is one of the more sophisticated procedures for reducing scar appearance. This technique makes it possible to quickly and affordably acquire a large number of donor follicles.
If more grafting is ever needed, multiple hair transplants can be carried out via FUT. To produce outstanding patient results, extreme care must be taken during strip collection, donor site closing, graft examination, setting up the site, and graft insertion.
Depending on the density of the donor’s hair, FUE hair transplant surgery offers an equivalent amount of grafts to FUT. The objective of FUE is to thin out the donor hair until it is clearly visible.
However, if the patient wants a short haircut following surgery, it’s especially important to avoid overharvesting from a small donor area as it can leave that area looking substantially less thick than the surrounding donor zone.
FUE sites should be evenly dispersed throughout the donor area, including the occipital and temporal areas, at a uniform density in relation to the native follicular unit density in order to ensure a safe surgical strategy.
Possible Side Effects
Hair transplant procedures, while generally safe and effective, can sometimes be associated with certain side effects and complications.
Donor site complications, which can include issues such as wound dehiscence and neuralgia, as well as general complications like infection or adverse reactions to medications, are prime considerations that patients should be aware of before undergoing the procedure.
Donor site complications
Donor site complications after a hair transplant can include several issues, such as wound dehiscence, neuralgia and neuromas, and arteriovenous fistulas. Wound dehiscence is a significant complication that occurs when sutures are removed, and the wound fails to heal properly.
Factors such as advanced age, chronic corticosteroid use, malnutrition, systemic diseases like diabetes, and tension in wound closure contribute to the risk. Administering corticosteroids can help reduce postoperative edema and minimize stress.
Infections and inadequate surgical hygiene can also increase the risk of wound dehiscence, requiring treatment that includes removing necrotic tissue, maintaining proper moisture balance, and addressing any infection.
Neuralgia and neuromas can develop after a hair transplant, particularly affecting nerves such as the auriculotemporal, lesser occipital, and greater occipital nerves.
These complications can lead to persistent scalp hyperesthesia, causing discomfort and tenderness.
Nerve injuries during the transplant procedure can trigger the formation of neuromas, which are palpable nodules that develop when fibrous tissue grows around damaged nerve fibers.
Managing these complications may require specialized interventions, such as targeted nerve blocks or medications to alleviate the associated symptoms.
Arteriovenous fistulas are another possible complication at the donor site. Patients may experience a throbbing sensation near the surgical wound postoperatively.
Upon examination, a pulsating subcutaneous lump or nodule can be observed. Arteriovenous fistulas occur when there is an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein.
This complication may require further medical intervention, such as surgical correction or embolization, to restore normal blood flow and alleviate symptoms.
Hair shedding is a normal process that occurs after a hair transplant. It happens because the transplanted hairs fall out within 2-3 weeks as part of the natural shedding cycle.
It occurs because the hair shafts are detached from their original location, while the roots remain intact.
New growth starts from the roots, and the transplanted hairs regrow within a few months. This temporary shedding phase, often referred to as shock loss, is followed by the emergence of new hair growth, which becomes visible within 3-4 months post-surgery.
Bleeding is a common complaint during and after a hair transplant surgery due to the surgical nature of the procedure. However, skilled surgeons and proper surgical techniques minimize blood loss.
During the postoperative period, it is foremost to follow instructions provided by the doctor, including pressing the gauze on any bleeding sites and avoiding blood-thinning medications that could increase the risk of bleeding.
Infections can happen even with the best facilities and precautions, although choosing a reputable doctor and a well-equipped facility can reduce the risk. It is important to follow post-operative care instructions and take prescribed antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection.
Proper hygiene practices and keeping the transplanted area clean are crucial in preventing infections. If any signs of infection appear, such as redness, swelling, or pus, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.
Pain is a common experience after a hair transplant surgery due to the surgical procedure itself. However, doctors typically administer sedatives and anesthesia during the methods to minimize pain.
Pain medications are prescribed for the post-operative period to manage any discomfort.
Some individuals may also experience a stretching sensation in cases of follicular unit transplantation (FUT), but this can be resolved with painkillers recommended by the doctor. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol, can also be effective in alleviating pain.
Itching is a frequent side effect experienced by many people after a hair transplant. It occurs due to the formation of scabs at the transplant site.
To alleviate itching, it is important to follow the provided aftercare instructions, which may include spraying a solution over the grafts and washing the scalp with a mild or medicated shampoo. With proper care, the itching gradually subsides over the course of a few days.
Swelling is another common side effect after hairs transplant surgery, although its severity may vary from person to person. Swelling around the forehead and eyes can give the appearance of a “black eye.” However, the swelling typically subsides within a few days with proper post-operative care.
Numbness can occur after a follicular unit transplantation (FUT) procedure due to the cutting of nerves. It is important to discuss this possibility with your doctor before the procedure to understand the potential risks and ways to avoid nerve damage and numbness.
Scarring is a consideration when choosing between follicular unit extraction (FUE) and FUT methods. FUE leaves tiny micro scars that disappear within a few weeks and can often be hidden by the surrounding hair.
On the other hand, FUT leaves a linear scar that may be visible if the surrounding hair is short. You can discuss scarring concerns with your doctor to make an informed decision about the transplantation method.
Cysts can occur when grafts are not extracted properly and result in the formation of clusters of pimples. These cysts typically disappear within a few weeks. If they persist or cause concern, it is advisable to consult a physician for further evaluation and guidance.
Hiccups are a rare side effect that may affect certain patients undergoing hair restoration. However, hiccups usually resolve within a few weeks and are not cause for significant concern. If hiccups persist or become bothersome, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate management.
How To Minimize The Impact
To minimize the impact of hair transplant side effects, there are several key measures you can take. Firstly, it is crucial to keep the newly grafted area moist. Avoid heavy exercise till the first week and you can start swimming that can’t be the cause of traumatic head injury.
Your surgeon will provide essential tools and instructions to create a soothing environment for the transplanted hair follicles. Frequent misting of the hair with a saline solution can help, and it’s essential to protect your hair from dehydration.
Secondly, practice gentle washing techniques to care for your hair after the transplant. Wait for 1-2 days before washing your hair by hand. Avoid washing your hair directly under the shower with high pressure. Instead, decrease the shower pressure and use your hands to clean your hair gently.
Opt for a gentle shampoo and wash your hair with a cup of lukewarm water to prevent scalp irritation. Additionally, consider sleeping in a semi-upright position to minimize the effects of gravity on the transplanted hair follicles.
Rather than sleeping straight, adopt a “recliner” position with an upright angle of about 45 degrees. This position helps reduce swelling and promotes better blood circulation to the scalp.
It’s crucial to sleep in a fixed position for the first three nights to minimize movement and avoid rubbing the newly transplanted area, thereby reducing the potential for swelling and irritation.