The Impact of Smoking and Alcohol on Hair Transplants

It will be more difficult to perform the procedure if you wait until a week or two prior to quitting drinking because there won’t be any blood clotting. The healing process will be harmed by alcohol use. It will take more time to recover. It’s possible that the transplanted hair follicles won’t stick to the skin.

Similar to how alcohol has negative impacts, smoking has similar ones. As a result, the healing process is slowed. Additionally, smoking slows blood flow. In this post, we’ll talk about how smoking and drinking affect hair transplant surgery.

How smoking affects hair growth/transplant

 Smoking has been found to have negative effects on hair growth and hair transplant outcomes. Here are the key points:


Smoking can lead to vasoconstriction, narrowing the blood vessels. It reduces blood flow to the hair follicles, depriving them of essential oxygen and nutrients necessary for healthy hair growth.

DNA damage

Smoking can form DNA adducts and cause free radical damage to the hair follicles. This damage can disrupt the normal growth cycle of hair and contribute to hair loss.

Senescence and hormonal effects

Smoking has been associated with an increase in cellular senescence, a state of irreversible growth arrest. It can also disrupt hormonal balance, including increased androgen levels and a hyp-estrogenic state, which can contribute to hair thinning and androgenetic alopecia.

Toxic contents

Tobacco smoke contains various toxic substances, including nicotine, phenol, quinolone, aniline, nickel, and benzopyrenes. These substances can potentially damage hair follicles and affect the growth cycle pigmentation of hair.

Reduced blood flow

Smoking affects circulation and cardiovascular health, leading to the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. It can impair blood flow to the hair follicles, compromising their health and contributing to hair loss.

Free radical production

Smoking increases the production of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage DNA and contribute to oxidative stress, which can negatively impact hair follicles and the hair growth process.

When it comes to hair transplant surgery, quitting smoking is crucial for optimal outcomes:

Nicotine’s effects

Nicotine in cigarettes causes the tightening of blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow. It can jeopardize the survival of transplanted hair follicles and hinder the wound-healing.

Depriving follicles of oxygen

Smoking following surgery can deprive newly transplanted hair follicles of oxygen and nutrients, which are vital for their survival and growth. It can result in graft failure and compromised results.

Insufficient blood flow

Narrowed blood arteries due to smoking impede adequate blood flow and circulation. Sufficient oxygen delivery is crucial for the survival of transplanted hair follicles and optimal wound healing.

Therefore, it is recommended to quit smoking at least one week before the surgery and continue to abstain for at least one month after the surgery.

It will help maximize the success of the hair transplant procedure by ensuring proper blood flow and oxygenation to the newly transplanted follicles and promoting overall healing.

How alcohol affects hair growth/transplant

While there is no direct link between alcohol use and hair loss, heavy drinking can lead to certain situations, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal issues that may affect hair growth and the success of hair transplants. Here are some key points to consider:

Nutritional deficiencies and hormonal issues

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can contribute to deficiencies or malabsorption of key nutrients. Not getting enough zinc, copper, or protein in your diet may lead to hair shedding. People who drink heavily may also have poor dietary habits and not consume enough nutrients.

Iron deficiency

Heavy drinking can lead to a decrease in the intake of iron-rich foods. Iron is essential for healthy hair growth, and a deficiency can contribute to hair loss.

Zinc and copper absorption

Alcohol may affect the absorption of zinc and copper in the body. These minerals are crucial for hair health, and their deficiency can lead to hair thinning and loss.

Protein absorption and consumption

Drinking alcohol can interfere with the absorption of protein or lead to lower protein consumption. A severe deficiency in protein can cause various issues, including hair loss, thinning hair, flaky skin, brittle nails, and overall poor hair health.


Ethanol, the main component of alcoholic beverages, acts as a diuretic, causing dehydration by pulling water out of the body through sweating and urination. It can make the hair dehydrated, leading to dryness, split ends, hair breakage, and even hair loss.

Hormonal imbalances

Excessive alcohol consumption can affect the thyroid gland and the overall hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. These interactions may disrupt the regulation of hair growth and hair shedding. 

Long-lasting hypo- and hyperthyroidism can result in hair loss and thinning across the whole scalp.

Adverse effects of alcohol-containing hair products

Regular alcohol consumption through drinking or using certain alcohol-containing hair products can have detrimental effects on the hair. These products may dry out the hair, leading to excessive dryness, split ends, hair breakage, dandruff, and greasiness.

Studies showing impact

Researchers suggested in an earlier 2003 study that the harmful compounds in cigarette smoke might cause harm to the DNA of cells in your hair follicles. Decreased hair growth could potentially result from damage to these cells’ DNA.

Research from 2018 reviewed According to a reliable source, cells in balding scalps’ hair follicles are especially vulnerable to oxidative stress.

2020 research between the ages of 20 and 35, Trusted Source examined the rate of symptoms that appear in androgenetic alopecia in male smokers and nonsmokers. 

Male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness are other names for androgenetic alopecia.

Only 200 of 500 non-smokers showed evidence of hair loss, compared to 425 out of 500 smokers who had some degree of hair loss.

Researchers discovered that grade 3 hair loss affected 47% of smokers, and grade 3 hair loss affected 24% of smokers. Only 10% of non-smokers completed grades three or four.

Zinc deficiency may be a factor in hair loss, according to a 2013 study involving participants who had four different types of hair loss: alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, female pattern hair loss, and male pattern hair fall.

The researchers claim that additional studies have come to the conclusion that low serum copper levels may be a contributing factor in thinning hair.

Chronic alcohol use may raise the risk of nutritional deficits, according to a 2018 analysis. Since alcohol has zero nutritional content, it is a liquid with empty calories. Drinking may cause a person to become full, making it difficult for them to eat wholesome foods.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association claims that considerable hair loss might result from a deficiency in biotin, iron, or zinc.

Recommendations for patients

It is highly recommended to quit smoking and drinking following a hair transplant surgery. Smoking has a detrimental effect on the blood flow to the hair roots, which is crucial for proper hair growth. 

Reduced blood flow can hinder healing and negatively impact the transplanted hair follicles. Therefore, quitting smoking is essential to ensure optimal results from the procedure.

Alcohol, being a diuretic, can lead to dehydration and reduce the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals from the gut. Adequate absorption of these nutrients is vital for promoting healthy hair growth.

To maximize the benefits of a hair transplant, it is advised to abstain from alcohol during the recovery period.

Ensuring proper hydration is another essential aspect after hair transplant surgery. Keeping the scalp hydrated helps prevent dryness, which can hinder the healing process and affect the growth of transplanted hair. 

Drinking at least eight glasses of water daily is recommended to maintain scalp hydration and support overall hair health.

Following a balanced diet is crucial for optimal hair growth and control of hair loss. Increasing protein intake is particularly important as hair is predominantly made up of protein. 

Including foods rich in fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins can promote hair health. Additionally, consuming a variety of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and biotin is essential for hair growth and maintenance. Green tea can provide effective antioxidants that contribute to overall hair health.

ALCS Hair Transplant and Cosmetic Clinic, under the leadership of the internationally recognized Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Sunil Arora, specializes in hair restoration and cosmetic procedures. With a focus on quality, ALCS Clinic offers a range of Hair Transplantation and Cosmetic Surgery Services under one roof.

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