Q: I am preparing for FUT surgery and read about scalp laxity exercises. Will they better prepare me for my hair transplant? – O.U.
A: For the majority of patients, there is enough scalp laxity so that exercises are unnecessary. If a patient’s scalp becomes too tight for FUT, we would switch to FUE. On occasion, after multiple FUT procedures, if the scalp is snug and FUT is still desirable, then scalp laxity exercises can be useful.
Q: I have been told a number of different ways to massage my scalp. What do you suggest? — H.H., Pidemont, C.A.
A: We have found that the most successful technique is to perform the exercises: once a day, for at least 15 minutes, and using three different hand positions.
For more information on this topic, please see the “scalp laxity exercises” section about half-way down the Donor Area in Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation page.
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.
Q: How long should I do scalp exercises before the procedure? — O.D., Newport, R.I.
A: To get the most benefit from scalp exercises, one should stretch vigorously on a regular basis for at least eight weeks prior to your hair restoration procedure. However, this will vary based upon the individual and upon how much the laxity needs to be increased.
Please remember that for the majority of patients scalp exercises are not necessary.
Q: I am scheduled to have a hair transplant next month and wonder if I should do scalp exercises before the procedure? — G.F., Providence, R.I.
A: For the majority of patients, scalp exercises are not necessary.
The scalp in the donor area has a fair amount of redundancy. With a properly planned hair transplant, the donor area will close relatively easily.
If a patient’s scalp is particularly tight, or if a very large session is planned (even in the face of an average scalp), vigorous scalp exercises are useful in increasing laxity.
The advantage of stretching one’s scalp prior to surgery is that it allows the doctor to remove a slightly wider strip and it decreases tension on the closure so the person will heal with a potentially finer scar.
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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