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Q: Is it more important to do scalp exercises before the first procedure or the second? — P.P., Richmond, V.A.

A: When the scalp is tight, it can be useful for either the first or the second hair transplant.

Keep in mind, however, that the scalp will naturally stretch between hair transplant procedures, so that if exercises were not needed for the first procedure, they will generally not be needed for the second.

In our practice, we generally wait one year between hair restoration sessions so that we can see the full cosmetic impact of the first procedure and give the scalp laxity a chance to return to normal on its own.

In addition, there is a risk that active massage after the first procedure may widen the donor scar. Therefore, before considering massage before a second hair transplant, make sure that enough time has elapsed between procedures so that stretching of the scar will not be a be a problem.

In general, since the scalp will normally continue to relax for up to a year after a procedure, it makes sense that when there is a tight scalp, one should wait at least a year before considering the next hair transplant session. If massage is contemplated, it should be started one year after the prior procedure. This will give the scalp a chance to loosen naturally and will ensure that the massage will not stretch the donor scar.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to plan hair restoration sessions too close together in patients where scalp laxity is a constraint.

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Q: I had a hair transplant 4 days ago and am feeling itchy in the area where I have my grafts. When can I start massaging the area? — N.D., Warwick, R.I.

A: You can massage at 10 days post-op, as the grafts are firmly in place by this time, but I would not scratch the area for several weeks more, if at all.

Itching can be lessened by applying hydrocortisone 1% ointment to the area twice a day and by taking Benadryl 25mg every 4 to 6 hours (may cause drowsiness). Both medications can be obtained over-the-counter without a prescription.

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