Possible Risks of an FUE Hair Transplant
Every medical procedure carries some level of risks and possible complications. Therefore, it is very important that any patient who is considering an FUE hair transplant be informed of the possible risks and make an educated decision on whether they are ready to move ahead.
Below you will find all of the known and possible risks and complications that may arise from an FUE (follicular unit extraction) hair transplant. This list is not all-inclusive (as that would be impossible!). However, we believe that the guide below provides a comprehensive and insightful overview of many of the most common risks associated with an FUE hair transplant. Once you have decided to move forward with the Toronto Hair Transplant Clinic, the possible risks will be discussed in greater detail while you prepare for surgery and review and sign your consent forms before allowing the surgery to take place.
We have compiled a list of each possible complication and added a brief description. We have also included some rare possible complications. We feel that it is very important for our patients to have all of the information before proceeding. Keep in mind that because we are aware of these possible complications, we ensure that every imaginable counter-measure can be taken to lower the risks.
- Reaction to medications (less than 1%) – Some patients may have adverse effects from the medications that are prescribed. We take every precaution to minimize this possibility, and patients are asked if they have any allergies to any medications before they are administered. In addition, we encourage all patients to have a full stomach before and during the procedure to reduce the chance of nausea or dizziness from some of the medications.
- Bleeding (less than 5%) – Some patients bleed more then other patients. We try our very best to tell patients to avoid all blood thinners for the weeks leading up to their FUE procedure and for the week following. This reduces the chances of excessive bleeding.
- Infection (less than 1%) – Any time you are dealing with open wounds on the body, you run the risk of infection. To reduce the risk of infection, we prescribe antibiotics for the week post-op, and of course, our surgery room and all instruments are sterile to reduce any chance of cross-contamination that may lead to infection.
- Excessive swelling – Every patient heals differently. The majority of patients do not have unusual amounts of swelling, and for the most part, they get a spike in swelling around the eyes and forehead on Day 3. This swelling typically lasts only 1 to 2 days. Some patients may experience higher levels of swelling post-op, which can last up to 6 or 7 days. We prescribe a medication to reduce the chances of swelling and encourage our patients to complete all prescribed medications to ensure that the full results of those medications are completed.
- A temporary headache – Patients may experience occasional and temporary headaches for the first week or so. We do provide pain medication, but Tylenol or Advil work well for such headaches.
- Temporary numbness of the scalp – The recipient site is most commonly affected by temporary numbness of the scalp around the areas where new hairs were transplanted. This can last for a few months in some cases, but it is nothing to be concerned about. The feeling will return over time. Everything will get back to normal as the new hairs start to grow and the nerves begin to reattach.
- Scarring around the grafts – Any time an incision of any size is made on the skin, a scar will form. However, the incisions made for an FUE hair transplant are so minor that the remaining scarring will also not be visible to the human eye. We take extra caution to reduce any visible scarring.
- Poor growth of grafts – Not everyone has the same growth from the transplanted grafts. As we get older, we also don’t heal as well as we did when we were younger. We advise patients to add PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy) to all of their treatments to increase the success rate of the grafts. To maximize the results of the transplants, we do not perform any mega-sessions (over 2,500 grafts). Post-op care is also important to ensure optimal results. We provide very clear post-op instructions for our patients to make sure that they follow all after-care cleaning and maintenance. We also schedule ongoing follow-ups within the first month as well as at the 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and 1-year marks to make sure that everything is going according to plan and that the grafts are growing as we would expect.
- Occasional small-ingrown hairs: folliculitis – This can be a common risk if the proper care is not taken following a hair transplant. We prescribe a medicated lotion that is to be used at the first sign of folliculitis, and we make it very clear how to treat any areas that are showing signs of becoming ingrown or inflamed. If an area starts to look red or inflamed or there is a pimple forming, it is necessary to squeeze the pimple and make sure to get all of the “gunk” out and then treat the area with the medicated lotion 2 times per day until it is gone.
- Bruising – Temporary bruising can happen, typically in the donor area. It can also happen in the recipient area. If bruising does occur, it is easily treated by icing the area to reduce the bruising and swelling.
Patients who smoke have a higher rate of delayed wound healing and lower graft yield. Smoking is not recommended for 2 to 3 weeks prior to and following the procedure. Nicotine is a vascular restrictor. Therefore, nicotine reduces the amount of necessary blood flow to the grafted areas. Blood flow is the most important component of getting the best results from a hair transplant. If you do smoke within the 2 to 3 week mark before or after a hair transplant, you may experience less than ideal results as well as jeopardize the healing process. We strongly urge patients to drastically reduce smoking if they are unable to completely eliminate the urge.
- Keloid formation – Some patients may be prone to keloid scarring. This is very rare, but we do ask our patients beforehand if they have ever experienced any keloid scarring in the past. If so, they should take the necessary precautions.
- An allergic reaction or medication-related problem – Every precaution is taken to reduce the chances of an allergic reaction. We also have the proper medications and trained staff available to deal with any allergic reaction that might possibly occur. It is very important that every patient lets us know of any and all allergies before starting a procedure.
- Complete failure of the growth of the transplanted hairs – This is also a very rare occurrence, but it can be caused by a variety of unknown circumstances. We do a thorough assessment pre-op to check off any possibilities of a complete failure. In the rare case of a complete hair transplant failure, we are able to offer a variety of other treatments. This is always discussed on a case-by-case basis.
- Permanent numbness of the scalp – Some patients may experience numbness of the scalp in some areas. A permanent loss of feeling is very rare, but it can happen.
- Noticeable scarring of donor area – Some patients may experience a noticeable area or areas of scarring from the FUE procedure. This can happen in rare circumstances. SMP, or scalp micropigmentation, is a great treatment that can be used to reduce the visibility of scarring in the donor area.
- Loss of transplanted hair – Due to unknown circumstances or other diseases or afflictions, some patients may experience a loss of the transplanted hairs. In most cases, the hair that is used for the transplant is resistant to the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) hormone that causes hair loss in patients with androgenic alopecia. Therefore, they are permanent hairs that will not fall out.