After Your FUE Hair Transplant, Should You Expect “Shock Loss”?
“After an FUE hair transplant, will my hair fall out?” This is a surprisingly common yet wise question that hair restoration patients ask. If you’ve heard of this phenomenon, which involves hair loss shortly after surgery, we want to put your worries to rest.
FUE Hair Transplants and Shock Loss: What You Need To Know
- While not entirely uncommon, this phenomenon only occurs in about 5% of hair transplant patients.
- In most cases, it’s a temporary condition.
- It’s not a sign of a bad hair transplant, but rather a normal side-effect.
- It’s not the hair, but the follicle that really counts.
You’re planning a surgical restoration to restore thicker hair to sparse, thinning areas on your scalp. Like many patients, after surgery you’ll eagerly check your progress and examine newly implanted follicle grafts each day, watching for growth. If you note that some hairs are shedding after roughly 3 weeks, you may feel alarmed. Losing hair is certainly not your goal, and considering the substantial investment made in a quality follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplant, Toronto patients who are caught off guard can be understandably upset.
Dr. Cory Torgerson, FUE specialist, explains the details of recovery, so his clients understand the “shock loss” phenomenon. Here’s what it means and why it’s not the most important thing to watch for after hair transplantation.
How is FUE Done?
First, let’s outline how this popular cosmetic procedure is carried out. Follicular unit extraction is completed using a handheld precision punch device and digital or robotic systems to help plan and implement. After shaving a small patch or rows of hair in the donor area, your surgeon’s team of hair transplant professionals will harvest tiny units containing 1 to 4 hair follicles from these denser growth areas of the scalp—typically the sides and back of the head. They then insert these micro-units containing live follicles and short hairs into recipient sites.
The process is strategic and artistic. You cannot add hair follicles to your head. You’re limited by the number of DHT-resistant hairs you have. (Those are follicles that have a natural resistance to the hair loss-causing hormone DHT and typically remain while other areas thin.) Instead of adding, FUE redistributes your hair to spread out density from one area to another. You can create the illusion of thicker hair this way when you select a skilled hair transplant surgeon. The follicles quickly establish their blood supply and “take root” in the recipient area of a healthy scalp.
What causes shock loss after an FUE hair transplant?
You’ll return home to heal and relax after your procedure and receive a few simple instructions for scalp care. These involve restrictions for contact (no touching) and reducing infection risks (no swimming, hot tubs, or baths).
In optimal conditions, a hair transplant recipient heals very quickly after follicular unit extraction because the little incisions are so minor. Much less scalp trauma and micro-incisions mean that today’s FUE hair transplant patients experience rapid 3- to 5-day recovery. The extraction sites close over in a few days, and the recipient sites will appear red/pink and mildly swollen.
Once the inflammation has resolved, most patients return to work and life as usual after the first week. But waiting for their new hair will be a long, unavoidable part of the process. Due to natural hair growth cycles, after the FUE hair transplant, several months must pass for follicles to cycle through natural growth phases and produce results to get excited about.
This is where shock loss comes in. You may first lose some hair before you grow some.
The hair on your head is typically in one of 3 stages:
This growth phase lasts 3 to 5 years on average and up to 7 years.
After anagen, hair enters the catagen phase. This transitional phase lasts approximately 10 days.
Lastly, hair enters the resting phase, where the hair strand is released and falls out. Follicles then remain inactive for a few months before the process begins again.
Your hair can be abruptly moved into the fallout stage due to many factors, including illness, stress, medications, and trauma.
Having an FUE hair transplant is known to interrupt the normal hair growth phase in the affected follicles and cause shedding of those hairs shortly after transplantation. This is commonly referred to as “shock loss”.
The temporary scalp trauma that a person experiences during hair restoration may even cause neighbouring healthy hairs to go dormant or fall out. This is less common but, luckily, a temporary condition.
Here’s why this is not a sign of a failed hair transplant
Only the hair is lost – the follicle stays put. The primary aim of a successful hair transplant is to establish active hair follicles in new locations. That’s why the FUE device removes a little sample of scalp tissue along with the hair root and strand. The unit may appear too small to be substantial, but under a microscope, you would see the full apparatus of the follicle, small muscles, related follicle tissue, and hair roots.
These are like little hair-producing factories, and when a hair falls out, they grow another. The essential goal of a hair transplant surgery is to handle carefully and preserve these precious hair follicles, implant them in a natural way, protect and heal them, and encourage new hair growth once they’re established.
Surgeons employ numerous techniques to help ensure success, including PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy) injections for the scalp, after a FUE hair transplant. This serum extracted from your blood contains high concentrations of platelets and their natural growth factors. PRP super-charges healing and helps boost new hair growth after a transplant.
Even with excellent care, the hairs that travelled with your follicles to their new home may fall out 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Contact your surgeon if you have concerns about the appearance of your scalp or grafts. They’ll examine you and reassure you that you’re on track.
Regardless of how well you protect your healing scalp, you’ll wait roughly 3 months to see the new strands sprout. Once hairs are growing in, they slowly thicken and spread to fill the recipient area.
Shock loss affects only approximately 5% of patients. This phenomenon is more prevalent among women, but both men and women can expect to see hair health return to normal within 2 to 4 weeks of the initial fall-out. You’ll be able to appreciate roughly 80% of your expected growth by 8 to 9 months post-procedure, and you’ll see continued hair length and density over the following year.
Telogen effluvium is a broad-spectrum form of hair loss. It doesn’t follow a distinct pattern as others do. Instead, it occurs over the entire scalp all at once. Sudden emotional trauma such as the loss of a close family member, divorce, illness, major surgery, or a car accident has been known to cause telogen effluvium.
Other factors include deprivation dieting and extreme weight loss, hormonal imbalance, allergic reactions, and medication side effects.
If you see sudden changes like bald patches or dramatic hair thinning and you can’t attribute it to normal fallout, visit a physician to assess your health and talk about possible causes. When those conditions are no longer present, the hair follicle can produce hair again. Typically, new growth can be seen within 3 months.
Permanent hair loss is most commonly attributed to androgenic alopecia, a genetic form of patterned, progressive hair fallout affecting millions of men and women. Another less common trigger that we treat at the Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic is traction alopecia. This condition sees follicles damaged and no longer producing hairs after chronic tension from tight hairstyles.
Other forms of alopecia, auto-immune diseases, permanent hormonal changes, and age all play a role in hair growth and may lead to hair loss.
- Following your FUE hair transplant, there are several things that you can do to ensure the best scalp and health conditions for growing your new hair.
- Some patients choose to stay on medications like finasteride or topical minoxidil to stave off future thinning.
- You can always ensure that your diet is balanced and loaded with natural sources of protein plus essential vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise to ensure healthy circulation.
- Talk to your surgeon about the possible addition of non-surgical laser light therapy after FUE, or PRP to help speed up healing and new hair formation.
- Follow all instructions carefully and, of course, let your surgeon know if you have any concerns at all while you’re recovering from your hair transplant. They’re invested in your success, and they’ll be able to keep you anxiety-free and healing smoothly.
What’s Next? Schedule Your Consultation
FUE with Dr. Torgerson has allowed thousands of people in Toronto to re-establish their locks and their confidence. The cost of FUE hair transplant in Toronto delivers a lifetime return on investment. If you have questions, you’re welcome to schedule a personal, no-obligation consultation. Contact the THTC today, and let’s get started.