Hair transplant surgeons typically prefer that a patient’s hair loss is stable before recommending a corrective course of action, but there are steps that can be taken if a patient does experience additional hair loss outside of the area of the scalp that will ultimately become the transplant, or recipient site. Of course, it is always best to take a proactive approach when it comes to hair loss, and it is possible to take measures to ensure that further hair loss is prevented. It is for this reason that hair transplant doctors often recommend the supplementary use of medications like Rogaine or Propecia as part of the patient’s post-operative care plan.
It is critical to note that medications such as Rogaine and Propecia are intended to prevent the loss of existing hair. For the sake of clarification, this means that these particular medications are not an effective option for encouraging the re-growth of hair that has already been lost. Following a hair replacement procedure, a patient who has experienced further loss of their existing hair may choose to undergo an additional hair transplant procedure to ensure adequate coverage. Assuming there is enough donor tissue available, the patient can select from any number of effective options, including a Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) or a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), both of which are surgical procedures considered effective for addressing hair loss or thinning hair caused by male or female pattern baldness.
A hair transplant is designed to permanently restore hair to the scalp in the areas affected by hair loss or thinning hair, but it is not intended to prevent the loss of the patient’s naturally occurring, non-transplanted hair. Patients looking to preserve their existing, non-transplanted hair following a hair transplant have quite a few options available to them, including over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as natural solutions involving dietary changes or nutritional supplementation. While these options are all effective in preserving non-transplanted hair after the completion of a hair transplant procedure, it is always advisable for the patient to clear any course of action with their hair transplant doctor before doing so.
Due to the clinically proven efficacy of both Rogaine and Propecia in preventing further hair loss, patients seeking to preserve existing, non-transplanted hair often turn to these medications after the completion of their hair transplant procedure. Rogaine is available as an over-the-counter medication, but Propecia requires a prescription. While both options are considered effective on an individual basis, there is ample evidence suggesting that a combination of the two medications generates better results than either one generates on its own.
In addition to the use of topical and oral medications that help recover the loss of existing hair, patients might wish to consider nutritional supplementation or dietary changes. Just as there is enough evidence to suggest specific behaviors — tobacco use, for example — contribute to accelerated hair loss, so too is it the case that healthy behaviors can contribute to the prevention or delay of additional hair loss. This is part of the reason it is so critical for patients to engage in a thorough discussion with their doctor in order to determine what additional steps can be taken to achieve the best possible result while undergoing a hair transplant procedure.
While it is preferable to make changes to one’s diet that meet specific nutritional goals, the use of supplements is also a sound option. For fuller, healthier hair that is also more resistant to loss, patients should focus on foods that deliver an appropriate amount of iron, protein, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B — with a particular emphasis on vitamin B6. Through positive dietary changes and nutritional supplementation, patients can strengthen not only their naturally occurring hair follicles, but also the follicles transplanted as part of the hair transplant procedure.
Patients who wish to experience the best possible results following a hair transplant procedure should carefully abide by the post-operative care instructions provided by the hair transplant surgeon. These care instructions will vary depending on the specific procedure the patient has undergone, and the patient can expect the doctor to outline these various differences between the available procedures during the initial consultation process. The initial consultation is critical when it comes to ensuring the ideal procedure for achieving the patient’s specific coverage and density goals is ultimately selected.
Regardless of the procedure, the days that immediately follow the transplant are the most critical to ensuring the best possible results are realized through the hair transplantation process. The newly transplanted grafts should be protected from the sun, at first with a loose-fitting hat and, after a few days, with traditional sunscreen (at least 30 SPF). Patients will likely be provided a special shampoo along with additional care instructions designed to protect the newly transplanted grafts.
Although physical activity might also be limited for a relatively brief period of time following the completion of the procedure, the reality is that after the first 10 days the transplants will not require substantial attention or special care from the patient. Once the hair transplant grafts are permanently established, the patient can simply care for the transplanted grafts in the same way they would take care of their naturally growing hair.