Making the decision to undergo a hair transplant is an important and ultimately gratifying step for any patient experiencing hair loss or thinning hair. Although the outcome of the hair transplant process represents a marked improvement for the patient, it is nonetheless imperative for the patient to be properly prepared for what is to involved in each stage of the hair transplantation process. This is why patients have to develop a thorough understanding about each and every aspect of the procedure as well as the restoration process. A good first step is a consultation with hair transplant clinics in Houston, Dallas, NYC, California, Washington DC, Abu Dhabi, New York, Connecticut, Chicago, Dubai, and Manila where the doctors and consultants can talk you through the process.
There are many factors prospective patients must account for when deciding to undergo a hair restoration procedure. Prospective patients have many avenues through which they can gain valuable insight and information regarding the process, including previous hair transplant patients as well as the hair transplant surgeon. During the initial consultation, the doctor will outline the process in its entirety and will help the patient decide upon an ideal course of action. Once the procedure has been agreed upon, the doctor will then provide specific instructions for the patient to follow throughout each stage of the process.
Patients should always adhere to the pre-operative instructions provided by their hair transplant doctor, as this will go a long way in ensuring that the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. Following the doctor’s pre-operative instructions will also have an impact on the post-operative recovery process, ensuring that the patient minimizes the possibility of experiencing any pain or discomfort. Patients who make the requisite short-term lifestyle adjustments ensure the best possible long-term outcome as it pertains to their hair transplant.
Patients taking any blood thinners should inform their doctor as soon as possible, as these types of medications are capable of creating a contraindication before surgery. Several medications fall into the category of blood thinners, including, but not limited to, Plavix, Coumadin, and Heparin. and patients should also make the hair transplant doctor aware of the use of any broad beta-blockers such as Inderal, as a substitute beta-blocker may have to be prescribed in advance of the surgery.
As the scheduled hair transplant procedure date approaches, patients should begin to become more attentive with regard to the medications and vitamins they consume. Patients taking vitamin B or E — along with any multivitamins that include B or E vitamins — should discontinue this practice at least one week in advance of the procedure due to the possibility that these vitamins may increase the incidence of bleeding. Patients can resume their vitamin B or E regimen after three days have passed from the time of the procedure.
Aspirin — as well as any other painkillers or pain relievers — should also be avoided at least one week before the scheduled procedure date. The use of painkillers or pain relievers can also be resumed three days after the completion of the procedure. Any other prescription medication can be taken right up to the day of the hair transplant procedure, but it is always best for patients to make the doctor aware of any prescriptions or other medications they are taking during the initial consultation. This will ensure both parties have all of the information necessary for the procedure to go as smoothly as possible.
The consumption of alcohol should be ceased for a period of at least three days before the procedure date, as there are a number of adverse consequences associated with the consumption of alcohol during the 72 hours leading up to the hair transplant procedure. This should be easy to do in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as alcohol is prohibited. The same is true of tobacco use, and smoking is quite likely to contribute to poor healing during the post-operative phase of the hair transplant. Due to the nicotine content in tobacco products and the constriction of blood vessels and the decreased blood flow to the scalp it causes, patients who smoke are at an increased risk of infection and scarring.
It is widely known that discontinuing the use of any tobacco product is an exceptionally difficult task that requires the support of friends and family members along with both extrinsic and intrinsic sources of motivation. Many hair transplant patients use their procedure as a source of extrinsic motivation to quit smoking once and for all. Given the value patients place on addressing their hair loss or thinning hair through a hair restoration procedure, scheduling the actual procedure date can serve as a potent source of external motivation for even longtime smokers and tobacco users.
Some of the harmful effects and risk factors associated with smoking begin to abate almost immediately after one elects to discontinue using tobacco, but the length of time required to eliminate or drastically reduce any associated risks is not precisely known and is affected by the extent of one’s smoking habits. Chronic or heavy smokers will likely need more time for the body and its processes to recover from the adverse effects of smoking, and it is simply best to quit smoking as far in advance of the hair transplant procedure as possible. The earlier the patient discontinues their tobacco use, the less likely they will be to experience poor healing after the completion of the hair transplant procedure.
While it is best to quit smoking long before the patient undergoes a hair transplant procedure, it is commonly recommended that patients abstain from smoking for at least one week before the procedure and at least two weeks after the procedure. It is important to reiterate that the longer one abstains from smoking — both before and after the procedure — the more likely it becomes that the healing process will not be adversely affected by a patient’s tobacco use.
Patients who dye their hair should do so at least three days prior to the procedure and should take the time to meticulously scrub their scalp on a daily basis, as this will ensure the scalp is entirely free from any dye on the day of the procedure. All patients, whether they dye their hair or not, should be sure to shower the morning of the procedure and should diligently wash their hair with regular shampoo. Patients should not apply hair products such as sprays, gels, or any other styling product on the day of the procedure. Any hair systems should be removed before showering and should not be worn on the day of the procedure.
Patients should attend the procedure wearing loose-fitting and comfortable clothing that does not need to be pulled over their head. This will prevent the patient from displacing the bandage or otherwise harming their grafts following the completion of the surgery. Patients should eat breakfast on the morning of the procedure, and those with an afternoon appointment are typically advise to eat a light lunch before arriving for their hair transplant. It is also recommended that patients refrain from wearing cologne or perfume, and they should not bring any valuables with them on the day of the procedure.
While patients are advised to eat breakfast (and lunch for an afternoon appointment), they should not consume any beverages containing caffeine on the day of the procedure. Whether it is coffee or soda, caffeinated beverages may lead to accelerated bleeding and can increase the patient’s sensitivity to the medications used during the procedure. Since those medications can cause drowsiness in the patient, patients should make arrangements before the procedure for a ride to their destination from a reliable friend, family member or car service. If the patient cannot prearrange transportation to their destination, the hair transplant facility will call a car service and will ask that the patient be responsible for payment.
Depending on the degree of hair loss and its classification, patients may be asked to take a medication such as Minoxidil (Rogaine) in advance of the surgery. Patients whose surgery is limited to the vertex — commonly referred to as the crown — of their head may not be required to take such a medication. The hair transplant doctor may advise the patient to take antibiotics before the day of the procedure to further prevent the risk of infection, although antibiotics may not be prescribed until after the operation is complete.
Patients will be prescribed different medications based on their individual circumstances, so it is critical that they follow the doctor’s pre- and post-operative instructions. Some of the most common medications prescribed include,
Patients with any allergies to medications of any kind should alert the doctor during the initial hair transplant consultation, particularly if those allergies relate to any of the aforementioned medications.
While there are indeed pre-operative tasks a hair transplant patient should be aware of before undergoing the strip hair transplant procedure, getting a haircut is not one of them. On the day of the procedure, the doctor will take great care to cut the patient’s hair on an as-needed basis so that the remaining hair can easily cover the sutures in the donor site. Since the donor tissue comes from a single thin strip of hair from the back of the patient’s head, the doctor will only need to cut a small strip of hair from the location in which the donor tissue will be removed and then sutured together. In most cases — as long as the adjacent hairs are not too short — the patient’s naturally occurring hair will largely cover that area while the sutures are still in the scalp.
Patients undergoing a Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) should understand that the procedure requires the hair to be cut very close to the patient’s scalp. It is only necessary to shave the donor area, but many patients prefer a uniform look and opt to have their entire head shaved. Other patients will choose a “high-and-tight” haircut, but it is not necessary for the patient to cut their hair in advance of the procedure. While it may be helpful to have it cut before the procedure, the doctor may still have to shave certain areas of the scalp in order to ensure the best possible results. It is best to discuss the most convenient approach for both patient and doctor during the initial consultation.
Patients undergoing a relatively minor hair transplant may not have to cut their hair so short, as the donor areas can be disconnected by sections of hair to obscure the donor site. The same is true for patients with longer hair since the remaining hair from the disconnected sections will drop down to cover the areas shaved for the purpose of securing the necessary donor tissue. To be clear, however, more extensive FUE procedures generally necessitate that the patient’s hair is fully shaved in order to secure the maximum yield from the donor site.