Wound care for donor area in hair transplant
October 12, 2018 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)
A lot of people considering hair transplant are discouraged by potential wounds and scarring. And their concern is not ill founded. After all, there is no such thing as a ‘scar-less’ surgery. However, modern techniques of hair transplant are minimally invasive and don’t leave a lot of scars. And a good surgeon can keep transplant scarring to a minimum.
It should be pointed out that healing and wound care after the transplant are an extremely important part of the process and can often be the key to long-lasting and successful results. Your surgeon will of course guide you through the do’s and don’ts – but here is a basic guide to post transplant donor area wound care.
To understand the kind of wounds from hair transplant, we need to understand the methods of transplant as well. There are two widely used methods of hair restoration used by surgeons – Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). FUT involves removing a strip of scalp from the donor area, dividing it into tiny grafts, each of which contain a few hairs, and then transplanting them into the bald spots.
FUE involves extracting individual follicles from the donor areas and implanting them through small slits on to the bald spots. FUT leaves a linear wound, while FUE leaves little circular dot like wounds in the donor area.
The patient also needs to understand the wound healing process to be able to take proper care of it. For all wounds to heal, they have to achieve optimal wound moisture balance, which means that they should not be too wet to get macerated, while too much dryness will cause scar formation.
During the surgery itself, the surgeon also has to be careful to not leave any foreign debris in the wound as that can slow down the process of healing. It is also important for there to be no tension in the wound. Avoiding lifting, sub-cuticulur sutures and wide strip excisions can help reduce the tension, and help the healing process.
The wound healing in the donor area takes slightly longer than the recipient zone as these needs to be more collagen formation and reepithelialisation, to close. Reepithelialisation is the process of regrowth of epithelial or membranous tissue over a denuded surface.
To care for the wound, patients have to meticulously follow post-operative instructions in order to avoid infections and help the wound heal fast. For at least a week post surgery, patients must avoid any kind of exercise or strenuous activity. They also need to avoid any kind of contact sports and physical activities that induce too much sweat, as the wound should not be too wet. Also, new hair follicles need an ample supply of blood to adapt to the new location. And too much exertion can cause stress on the natural blood flow.
It is also ideal to let the sutures be off and wait for at least a month before colouring, straightening, perming, or using any other kind of chemical treatments. They can slow the healing process of the wound, and also cause an infection. Using heat styling products is also not advisable.
Smoking and drinking, both of which can hamper the blood flow and therefore obstruct essential nutrients reaching the grafts, are best avoided during the recovery time. Avoiding these will save the patient from a slow recovery and help the grafts to adapt to their new place.
The other thing to be carful about is that while shampooing the hair, the patient should not scrub vigorously in order to remove scabs; it can dislodge the grafts and disturb the wound unnecessarily. Washing gently with a mild shampoo is advised.
Use of antibiotics to avoid infections is also something that the surgeon will suggest. The patients should take them as prescribed.
Wounds are a natural part of the healing process, but a lot of how effective the surgery will be, and how fast the wounds will heal, depends on how good the surgeon is, and how well they conduct the surgery.