Many patients experience the loss of grafted hair after the surgery. This phenomenon is shock loss after a hair transplant. It is often a traumatic experience as they tend to believe the transplant failed. Most patients also want their hair to look excellent right after the procedure, while the reality of the hair transplant technique is very different.
Is it true? Why do they experience a shock loss after a hair transplant? Is this loss permanent?
Here is everything you need to know!
A shock loss is the loss of grafted hair. This loss is a normal part of the post-surgery process after a hair transplant due to the lack of oxygen in the hair follicles due to skin trauma. When the surgeon extracts the grafts, they lack oxygen for a while, entering the telogen phase. It is a self-preservation reaction. The upper part of the follicles falls because of a lack of nutrition, like a tree losing its leaves when it does not have enough nutrients to survive with them. The medical literature calls this phenomenon telogen effluvium.
The hair life cycle
The telogen phase is a part of the hair life cycle. This cycle counts three steps:
- The anagen phase is when the hair is growing. It lasts 2 to 7 years, depending on genetics.
- The catagen phase is when the hair follicles retract themselves under the skin. The hair remains attached to the follicles but is not growing anymore. This phase lasts about three weeks.
- The telogen phase is when the hair follicles are resting. The hair remains attached to the follicles for about three months before failing. Then, the cycle starts over.
Is a shock loss after a hair transplant permanent?
This hair loss is temporary, and the patient should not worry; the hair follicles are in the skin and will start growing hair again after a rest period. This loss may occur in both the donor and recipient areas.
Shock loss after a hair transplant in the donor area
A shock loss on the donor area often occurs when the surgeon harvests many grafts above the ear zone. A too-big punch tool may also cause intense hair loss.
The hair that the surgeon harvested will not grow back in the donor area as he removed the follicles. Better go with an experienced surgeon who will know how many grafts he can extract without ruining the look of the donor area.
Shock loss after a hair transplant in the recipient area
In the recipient area, the shock loss may affect miniaturized hair. Miniaturized hair is the hair in an early stage of alopecia; it keeps growing much smaller and more fragile than regular hair.
When does a shock loss after a hair transplant occurs and end?
After the surgery, scabs appear on the scalp. They fall after about ten days. Usually, at this point, patients are delighted with their new hair. However, it does not last long as the shock loss occurs 15 to 20 days after the surgery. The peek of the loss is between the 25th and 30th days after the hair transplant.
Shock loss intensity varies from a patient to another; some notice a very little loss, while others face a massive one.
The hair follicles will remain in the telogen phase (rest phase) for about two months before producing hair again. Hair starts growing back about three months after the transplant.
Seven factors that affect shock loss after a hair transplant
- Age: younger patients tend to experience more critical shock loss than older patients because androgenic tension decreases and causes less hair loss.
- Too intense hair implantation: when the surgeon implants too many grafts, it causes trauma to the scalp’s blood vessels, leading to the fall of the hair.
- Parallel to natural hair: the surgeon must be careful to implant the grafts parallel to the natural hair to not damage the roots and cause hair loss.
- Opened channels angles: bigger tips cause more extensive traumas to blood vessels. It does not apply to DHI as there is no channels opening.
- Adrenaline: FUE method requires the use of adrenaline to decrease the bleeding. An excessive amount of adrenaline may worsen the shock loss. It does not apply to DHI.
- Finasteride or Minoxidil: using these products would decrease the shock loss. However, those drugs have harmful side effects.
- Mega sessions: the more grafts the surgeon implant, the more critical will be the shock loss. However, the hair will grow back after a few months, so this phenomenon is not very severe.