A hair transplant is a popular cosmetic surgery that involves moving hair follicles from one part of the scalp to balding or thinning areas. After a few months, hair will begin to grow from the healthy follicles, reversing the hair loss. Some people undergo more than one hair transplant surgery, but for most people, it’s possible to maintain the results of the first surgery for years. Here are six ways to maintain your results after a hair transplant.
1. Follow your doctor’s post-surgery instructions
The long-term results of your hair transplant depend mostly on how you let your scalp heal after the surgery. Following your doctor’s instructions and taking proper care of the surgical area are the best ways to ensure your results will last for years.
Before your surgery, your doctor should give you detailed information on what to expect during and after the procedure. This should include information on how to let your scalp heal and how to prevent the grafts from falling out.
Your doctor will probably give you a special shampoo to wash your hair with for the first week or two. You’ll also be prescribed medications to reduce swelling and manage pain, discomfort, or itchiness. It’s important to take these medications as directed, so you don’t feel tempted to touch a swollen, irritated, or itchy scalp.
Your surgeon may also tell you to use an ice pack to help with bleeding and swelling, but you shouldn’t place it directly on the grafted area. Instead, place it on your forehead or the back of your head.
2. Let it heal properly
Even beyond your doctor’s instructions, you should be very careful with your hair and scalp as the surgical site heals. Your scalp needs the correct amount of blood flow to heal successfully, and getting too much or too little blood could affect the results of the surgery.
You should sleep in an upright position for about a week after the surgery. This will prevent excess blood from flowing to the head. Prop yourself up with a few extra pillows or with a wedge pillow. Don’t lean forward or bend over for about a week after the surgery. Even if you’re only bent over for a moment, it can cause too much blood to flow to your head.
Avoid strenuous exercise for a few weeks after the surgery. You should also avoid alcohol and smoking for at least a month after your hair transplant, but your doctor may recommend not drinking or smoking for even longer. All of these activities can affect the blood flow to your scalp.
The worst thing you can do for your hair transplant is touch or fidget with the surgical area while it heals. Touching the transplant may cause the grafts to fall out before the new hair even has a chance to grow, which could ruin the results of the procedure. Following your doctor’s instructions for keeping the area clean will make it less itchy and irritated, which will make it easier for you to keep your hands away.
3. Avoid direct sunlight
Staying away from sunlight is especially important while your scalp heals. Your doctor may give you a special hat or instruct you to wear a hat when you go outside in the weeks following your surgery.
However, it isn’t just while you’re healing that the sun can be harmful. Sunlight can damage your new hair, making it weaker and more likely to fall out. It can also cause damage to your scalp, which could prevent new hair from growing.
Keep your sun exposure to a minimum by standing in the shade as much as possible and wearing a hat when you go outside. Whenever possible, plan outdoor activities for cloudy days or during the morning or evening when the sun isn’t directly overhead.
4. Eat a healthy diet
Nutrition has a big effect on hair health. Your diet should consist mostly of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Try to eat lots of antioxidants like blueberries, peppers, tomatoes, and squash. These foods are great for promoting hair growth and strengthening your hair follicles.
Foods with vitamin C, like oranges and yellow bell peppers, also strengthen your hair follicles and hair shafts, preventing breakage and keeping your hair strong and thick. Omega-3s, including fish and eggs, keep your scalp healthy, which promotes hair growth.
Drinking plenty of water is essential, too. Not only does water stimulate hair growth, but it also will help your hair look shiny and moisturized. Try to drink at least eight cups per day.
5. Massage your scalp gently
Once the surgical area has fully healed, massaging your scalp is a great way to stimulate hair growth. Check with your surgeon to make sure you’re all healed up before you start this practice.
If your doctor approves, you can gently massage your scalp in circular motions a couple times per day. You could focus on the surgical area, or you could massage your entire scalp to promote growth everywhere.
You can also massage your scalp with an essential oil mixture to maintain your hair transplant results. Rosemary, sage, and peppermint essential oils all may help with hair growth. However, these oils are very concentrated and could irritate your scalp if you apply them directly. Instead, mix a few drops in a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil. Then, massage the mixture into your scalp for several minutes.
6. See your doctor for a checkup
Your surgeon will want to see you a day or two after the surgery and possibly again after a week. However, it doesn’t hurt to visit again after several months when the new hair starts to grow in. You can even visit a year or two down the road to make sure your new hair is growing properly. Your doctor may have recommendations for how you can maximize the results of the transplant. If all else failed, you may want to explore Brazilian virgin hair.
Dr. Andrew Jacono at the New York Center for Facial, Plastic, and Laser Surgery has over 13 years of experience with hair transplants and other cosmetic surgeries. If you’re interested in a hair transplant or another procedure, you can contact his office or visit his website at http://www.newyorkfacialplasticsurgery.com.