An experienced surgeon can minimize risks to a hair transplant’s successful outcome, but the best way to ensure optimal protection for hair grafts is to follow all post-operative instructions closely.
Among the most crucial is avoiding sun exposure for several months after undergoing hair transplant surgery. After the trauma of surgery, the scalp requires ample time to heal and for the follicles to take root. During this delicate post operative time period sun exposure may not only risk damaging the skin, but also the transplanted hair follicles. This could jeopardize the final outcome of the transplant itself.
Potential Complications From Exposure
Incisions made in the scalp’s skin become more sensitive to light while healing. The incisions are particularly sensitive to the ultraviolet rays put off by the sun and in tanning beds, which should be avoided during post operative recovery. Additionally, sun exposure risks hindering the healing process and can even result in excess scarring on the scalp.
Once skin is transplanted, it is unable to protect itself from sun exposure for the first few months following a surgery. The reason being that human skin contains cells called chromatophores (which are responsible for pigmentation in the skin), and these cells either die or become functionally dormant until they regenerate within the newly transplanted hair grafts. But in the window of time before complete recovery of the cells the transplanted skin has a heightened vulnerability to sun damage.
Most importantly, damage from sun exposure can penetrate the epidermis, damaging the underlying tissues and hair follicles that have not yet healed within the scalp. This could result in hair transplant failure or lead to only partial graft survival.
General consensus in the medical community suggests that patients should expect to shield their scalp from the sun for a minimum of four months after undergoing a hair transplant surgery.
Even after the incisions have healed in the scalp, hat wearing is strongly recommended as is the use of a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Following these post-operative guidelines, as well as whatever special case recommendations your physician may make for you individually, will protect your transplanted grafts from sun damage related complications.
Contact The Gabel Center
To learn more about hair loss, the latest medications and the latest techniques in hair restoration and hair transplant surgery, contact Dr. Gabel’s Hair Transplant Oregon office. Our team at the Gabel Center look forward to your visit and discussing these matters with you in greater detail.