Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - After Your Hair Restoration
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Q: I had a hair restoration procedure and the hair grew, but after one year the hair was kinky and dry. It has remained like this ever since.

From what I have read Dr Bernstein says this is uncommon but can happen. I understand there is no definitive explanation for this but I would like Dr Bernstein’s opinion on why this happens. My theory is that DHT is more prominent on the top of the head and is changing the structure of the transplanted hair. The hair is so dry and unmanageable it looks like I am wearing a wig. I await his response. — P.O., Greenwich, CT

A: Some dryness and texture changes can occur after a hair transplant and this usually self-corrects over 1-2 years during which time the transplanted hair gradually regains its original luster and texture. These changes are most likely due to the unavoidable trauma that takes place as follicles are removed from the scalp and placed into recipient sites. Excessive dryness can occur if the sebaceous glands had been stripped away from the graft. In FUT, this can be due to over dissection (i.e., grafts that are trimmed too much). In FUE, this can be due to loss or damage to the sebaceous glands in the extraction process. Persistent kinkiness may represent either damage to grafts from the procedure (improper handling, crush injury) or effects of scarring in the recipient area (usually from older procedures which used larger recipient sites) that distort the growth of follicles.

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Q: I had an FUE hair transplant three weeks ago and some of my existing non-transplanted hair has fallen out. I was a Norwood 3V, but now I look more like a 4 or 5 without the hair that used to help cover up my thinning area. Am I destined to look balder for the next few months? When can I expect to look like before? — T.M., New Haven, CT

A: You are describing shedding that is pretty typical following a hair transplant. The hair which is shed generally grows back together with the transplanted hair beginning at about three months. You should expect hair that is shaved for the FUE procedure to grow back right away at the normal rate of 1/2mm per day.

The shedding (also called shock hair loss) doesn’t mean permanent damage to the hair follicles. What it refers to is a physiological, or normal, response to trauma to the scalp which is caused by the hair restoration procedure. In general, only miniaturized hair (the hair that is affected by androgens and that has begun to decrease in diameter) is shed after a transplant. This hair would be lost in the near term anyway. Existing healthy hair is unlikely to shed, but if it were to shed, you could expect it to grow back as the transplanted hair grows in.

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Q: Is it harmful if I do not rinse or wash my recipient area for 5 to 7 days after the hair transplant? — T.E., Yonkers, NY

A: The purpose of showering the day after the procedure is to remove scabs and dried blood. This will allow for quicker healing, less inflammation (redness), and a reduced incidence of infection. It will also shorten the time post-op where the procedure might be detectable. In our practice, patients are instructed to start showering and gently washing the recipient area the day after the surgery. The first day after surgery the patient will shower three times, and for the remainder of the week, showering will be twice daily. When showering, patients can clean the transplanted area with a special medicated shampoo that is gentle on grafts. The follicular unit grafts are made to fit snugly into the recipient sites and will not be dislodged in the shower, as long as the patient washes gently.

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Q: Is the recovery time a lot longer with FUT compared to FUE? — C.W., Chicago, I.L.

A: Cosmetically, the recovery for FUT is actually shorter, since the back and sides do not need to be shaved and the longer hair can completely cover the donor incision immediately after the Follicular Unit Transplant procedure. In large Follicular Unit Extraction procedures, the entire back and sides of the scalp need to be clipped very close to the scalp. It can take up to 2 or 3 weeks for the hair to grow long enough to completely camouflage the harvested area. Once the healing is complete and any redness has subsided, the hair can be cut shorter.

For strenuous physical activity, however, the recovery is longer with FUT due to the linear incision. This is a major reason why professional athletes or very physically active people prefer FUE. However, many business professionals prefer FUT hair transplantation as there is significantly less down time from work (for the cosmetic reasons discussed above).

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Robotic FUE has improved Follicular Unit Extraction by automating what has been a labor intensive and often inexact manual procedure. It is the latest in a long line of improvements made to hair restoration procedures that lead to better results for hair transplant patients. Dr. Bernstein’s recent publication in Hair Transplant Forum International improves the FUE procedure even further, whether performing follicular unit extraction with the FUE robot or by hand.

In his article, Dr. Bernstein suggests two techniques to enhance the FUE procedure. First, he recommends that surgeons create recipient sites prior to extraction, in order to decrease the time grafts are in their holding solution outside the body. Second, he suggests adding time between site creation and graft harvesting and placement, to allow recipient site healing to progress.

Pre-Making Recipient Sites

As is discussed in the full article (which is available for viewing and download in our Medical Publications section), by making recipient sites first, the time grafts are out of the body will be reduced.FUE procedures lend themselves to easily reversing the normal hair transplant sequence of graft (strip) harvesting followed by dissection and site creation.

These “pre-made” recipient sites will also exhibit less bleeding than newly created sites and will exhibit the stickiness that makes older sites easier to place grafts into with less popping (a common source of graft injury). Besides allowing the placing step to proceed more quickly, pre-making sites will reduce the risk of mechanical injury inherent in repositioning elevated grafts.

After Site Creation, Add Delay between Graft Harvesting and Placement

While Dr. Bernstein acknowledges the expediency for the hair restoration physician, as well as the comfort of the patient in a single-day session, he suggests that, to facilitate growth after a transplant, multiple-day procedures should be considered in large hair transplant sessions that involve the placement of thousands of grafts.

In conclusion, these two modifications -— pre-making recipient sites and adding a delay before graft placement -— to the FUE procedure can potentially contribute to better growth due to easier, less traumatic graft insertion, a shortened time “out of body,” and the creation of a more fertile bed for the implanted grafts.

View the full article to read details about these and other potential advantages of pre-making recipient sites

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Q: I hear you leave staples in sometimes up to three weeks after a hair transplant. Why do you leave staples in that long? – M.C., Boca Raton, FL

A: My reason for leaving some staples in longer is that the tensile strength of the wound continues to increase (significantly) during the first three week period after surgery — actually, it will continue to gain strength for up to one year post-op. To give the wound the best chance to heal, on average, I take out alternating staples at 10 days and the remaining staples at 20 days.

Although patients do complain that they are uncomfortable, removing half at 10 days offers enough relief for those who are bothered by them. The advantage of leaving the staples in longer is that the wound heals with a finer scar. And for patients who are very active, it allows them to resume activities more quickly. For each patient, I modify the time left in by surgery, length of incision, tension, and also the patient’s needs and ability to have them removed.

In contrast to sutures, staples do not leave any track marks and do not need to be removed as quickly. Sutures can also damage the surrounding hair by strangulating the follicles. Staples are interrupted (placed individually), so they don’t cause damage to the follicles adjacent to the wound edge.

Read more details about our use of surgical staples on the Donor Area page.

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Q: Can I sleep as I normally do after a hair transplant? — G.C., Los Angeles, CA

A: We ask that you sleep on your back, with your head elevated on a few pillows. By raising your head, the pillows decrease any swelling that normally occurs after the hair transplant. We also use a small injection of cortisone given in the arm to help decrease swelling.

For detailed information on caring for your scalp after a hair transplant, visit our After Hair Transplant Surgery page.

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Q: Is transplanted hair the same length as existing hair? — G.E., Buckinghamshire, UK

A: The hair is first clipped to about 1-mm before it is transplanted. The transplanted hair will look like stubble for the first few weeks after the hair restoration procedure. It is then shed and the newly transplanted follicles go into a resting phase for about two months.

At about 10 weeks after the hair transplant, the follicles will gradually start to produce new hair. They start out as fine hair and then gradually increase in thickness and in length. The process takes about 6 months, with full growth about one year after the hair restoration procedure.

For a more detailed overview of what to watch for in the days, weeks, and months after a hair transplant, view our After Hair Transplant Surgery page.

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Q: When can patients go in the sun after a hair transplant? — S.M., Glencoe, I.L.

A: Following a hair transplant, patients should protect their scalps from the sun for about a month.

This does not mean one needs to stay indoors. It just means that after a hair restoration surgery you should wear a hat or a good sunscreen when outdoors.

Sunburns on the scalp should be avoided, not just for persons having a hair transplant, but for everyone.

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Q: Do patients need to wear a bandage after the surgery and for how long? — L.H., West University Place, T.X.

A: In a properly performed follicular unit hair transplant, the patient can remove any bandages the day after the procedure and gently shower/shampoo the transplanted area. The bandages do not need to be reapplied. The reason the dressing can be removed so soon is that follicular unit grafts fit into tiny needle-size incisions that heal in just one day.

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Q: It has been over a month after my hair transplant procedure and I am starting to get nervous. When can I expect to see some growth? — J.N., Winnetka, I.L.

A: Transplanted hair begins to grow, on average, about 10 weeks after the procedure, although this number can vary. Hair tends to grow in waves and occasionally some new hair may start to grow as long as a year after your procedure. In general, growth is a bit slower with each hair transplant procedure, although the reason for this is not fully understood.

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Q: When can patients resume physical training? — T.M., Mineola, N.Y.

A: Moderate exercise may be resumed two days after the hair transplant.

The main limitation is to avoid putting direct pressure on the donor area and to avoid stretching the back of the scalp (neck flexion) as this will increase the chance of stretching the donor scar after a strip procedure.

There is no such limitation with follicular unit extraction (FUE). However, in general, contact sports should be avoided for at least 10 days with FUE and a month after a strip procedure.

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Patient JAZ before and after hair transplant photo

Bernstein Medical patient before (left) and after (right) hair transplant

We all know that hair loss is common among both men and women, and that hair transplant and hair restoration procedures are becoming more and more popular around the world. But what thoughts go through the head of your average hair loss sufferer before, during, and after a hair transplant?

The answer to that question may now be revealed. ABC News correspondent Cari Nierenberg and associate producer Ryan Stevenson take us directly into the mind and life of Bernstein Medical patient Adam Khoudja in a diary and feature on hair loss and hair restoration.

View each article at ABCNews.com:

You can also see the patient’s full before/after photoset in our Hair Transplant Photos gallery

Learn more about the hair transplant procedure and visit our own hair transplant photo journal.

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Q: I am a patient of yours who had a hair transplantation procedure done mostly in the crown area and in the front about seven months ago. The hair is just starting to come in nicely and is starting to fill in the bald spots. Yesterday I carelessly banged the top of my head against a beam in my attic and cut a nice gash in, you guessed it, a transplanted area. I’d say that the cut is about a good inch. My wife works for a doctor who is certified in facial plastic surgery and I had him suture up the gash. He did not cut any hair, but it took 4 stitches to close the wound. I’m worried about the impact on the transplanted area. Just when it was starting to come in nice I now have a bald spot that I suspect is going to stay as a result of the accident. Please advise. — V.F., Fort Lee, N.J.

A: There is not much you can do at this time. Depending upon the doctor’s suturing techniques; you may or may not have permanent hair loss from the trauma and subsequent suturing. The problem is that if the sutures are placed too far from the wound edge they can strangulate hair follicles, particularly if there is any swelling. Hair loss may be temporary, but if it is permanent, it should be minimal. Additional grafts can be added at your next hair restoration procedure to cover any area of hair loss and the scar from the injury, if it is visible.

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Q: Is it possible to have a hair transplant that is totally undetectable immediately following surgery? — G.F., Stamford, C.T.

A: Not unless a person has a fair amount of existing hair that can cover the transplanted area.

Although surgical hair restoration techniques have improved dramatically over the past ten years, and wounds are so small that patients may shower the morning following the procedure, a hair transplant will be detectable for the first week. During this period, there may be some swelling that settles down on the forehead and some crusting and some residual redness.

Please visit the section on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website entitled After Your Hair Restoration for more details. Also see the Instructions After Your Hair Restoration Surgery page regarding the normal post-op course following a hair transplant.

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Gholamali Abbasi, MD, Sepideh Pojhan, MD, Susan Emami, MD. Tehran, Iran

SUMMARY of Dr. Abbasi’s Abstract from his presentation at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, 2005 – Sidney, Australia

Edema of the forehead and the peri-orbital area is observed frequently after a hair transplant. To prevent this edema the authors introduced a new method (Abassi’s solution) at the 12th Scientific Meeting of ISHRS in Vancouver, Canada. The present study tries to determine if Abbasi’s solution can have a negative effect on the growth of transplanted grafts following hair restoration surgery.

In this study, the authors examined the effects of Abbasi’s solution on hair growth one year after a hair restoration procedure.

Abbasi’s Solution
Normal saline, 100cc
Epinephrine 1/1000, 1cc
Triamcinolone acetate, 40 mg

In this study, the authors injected Abbasi’s solution into one side of the bald scalp and tumescent solution in the other side. 30 FU’s (2 hairs) were transplanted to each side. Photos were taken before, immediately after surgery, and 12 months after the hair transplant. In order to evaluate the hair growth, they compared the number of transplanted hairs with the number of hairs that actually grew after 12 months.

Results:

Preventative Methods % Edema Free
Oral Steroid 47.6
I.M. Steroid 65.7
Xylocaine/Steroid Mixture 70.0
Abbasi’s solution 97.4

Results showed that for hair transplant patients who received Abbasi’s solution, 97% had no edema during the period of 2-6 days after surgery. About 95% of the implanted hairs showed regrowth after 12 months.

The conclusion was that Abbasi’s solution not only can prevent post-operative edema following hair restoration procedures but also does not show any negative effect on the growth of the transplanted hairs.

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Q: What are your recommendations for wearing a hairpiece following a hair transplant? — P.K., Long Island City, Queens, NYC

A: First, some clarification. It is OK to wear a “hairpiece” (one that is attached to the hair with clips or to the scalp with tape) so that it can be removed each night, but NOT a “hair system” (that is woven to existing hair or glued to the scalp and must be removed by the salon).

Patients should wait a week before they resume wearing their hairpiece, although some patients use it as soon as two days later (but keep it on for very short periods of time).

After the first week, I don’t have any restrictions with regard to duration during the day, as long as the person removes the hairpiece at night and shampoos the scalp thoroughly at least once a day.

The hairpiece should be kept clean and it helps if the person has a spare. The piece should be attached with clips. A stiffening rod can be inserted along the front edge to keep it from lifting up. One should avoid using glue. Tape can be used in conjunction with clips only if the area of attachment of the tape is away from the implanted grafts.

Here are some resources for after your hair transplant:

After FUT Hair Transplant
After FUE Hair Transplant

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