Any surgery can cause temporary side effects, which can impair your driving ability. And although a hair transplant is not a major surgery, it is still a surgery. So, you can’t immediately get behind the wheel, as it is not safe.
One thing you should keep in mind is that hair restoration takes 6-8 hours. And you’ll have to stay awake during that time. So, by the time you come out of the operation theatre, you will be tired and fatigued. And driving while you’re feeling drowsy or sleepy could have very serious consequences, which is why you’re advised against it.
Can I Drive After A Hair Transplant?
Driving is not recommended for at least 24 hours after a hair transplant because sedatives, benzodiazepines, local anaesthesia, and pain medication can affect your ability to drive a vehicle (bike, scooter, or car).
In order to drive safely, your brain should be able to focus entirely on the task at hand. You need to be alert and attentive to your surroundings. Additionally, well-coordinated visual-motor control is essential, according to a 2005 research in Experimental Brain Research.
And if you’ve been driving for some time, you’d know how important it is to make quick decisions, especially in emergency situations. Getting the brakes on time can make all the difference.
And if any of these abilities isn’t functioning at its peak (which happens after a hair transplant), take a step back. Because you’ll not only be endangering yourself but also others around you.
That is why you should consider arranging a transport service for yourself. Your medical tourism facilitator can do that for you. Or can ask your travel companion, partner, friend or family member to drive you to your home or hotel after the surgery.
Why It Is Not Safe To Drive After A Hair Transplant?
As mentioned above, the surgery and medications will affect your ability to drive safely. But let’s take a closer look at exactly how it will do that.
Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, are medications that help reduce anxiety. They are also considered minor tranquilisers as they slow down the activity of your brain and body.
Before a hair transplant, some patients experience anxiety, which is why they may be prescribed these medicines. This will help the patient feel more comfortable and relaxed during the surgery.
While benzodiazepines are helpful during the surgery, they can cause some temporary side effects, such as:
- Memory problems
This list is not exhaustive, and the chronic use of these medicines can cause other problems, such as decreased concentration, impaired motor coordination, and poor reaction time, among others.
Keep in mind that these medications will also relax your muscles, so you won’t be able to react as quickly when driving. In some countries, driving while under the influence of benzos is also considered unlawful (since you may be impaired while driving). So, for these reasons, you shouldn’t drive after taking benzos.
During the hair restoration surgery, hair follicles from the back of the scalp are taken out using a punch tool. Later on, these grafts are implanted into the balding regions of the scalp through small incisions. Needless to say, this would be painful if not for anaesthesia.
Prior to the surgery, you will be given local anaesthesia. Since the surgery will only take place on the scalp (and the procedure is not too invasive), you won’t be given general anaesthesia. Besides, local anaesthesia will numb your scalp (while keeping you awake) so that you don’t feel any pain while the surgery is taking place.
Local anaesthesia, however, can cause the following side effects, according to the NHS:
- Blurred vision
- Twitching and shivering
- Numbness, tingling or pricking sensations
You’re also advised to move around carefully until the effects of anaesthesia wear off (which can take a few hours). It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to drive soon after the surgery. So, for these reasons, it’s a better idea to arrange a transfer service or have someone pick you up from the medical facility.
To help you relax and not feel any pain during the hair transplant, you may also be sedated. It won’t knock you out, meaning you’ll still be conscious, but you’ll feel less anxious. However, until you eliminate the sedatives from your body (that can take 1 day), you shouldn’t drive. That’s because it can cause the following side effects:
- Blurred vision
- Feeling heavy or sluggish
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, sedatives can slow reaction time and cause poor coordination, which makes driving quite dangerous.
Additionally, it can impair focus, along with your ability to divide attention, making it difficult for you to concentrate on driving. Sedatives can also affect your judgement. So, for these reasons, you cannot (and should not) drive after getting a hair transplant.
Now, according to the Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM), you can drive after taking painkillers as long as your ability to drive is not impaired. However, if you experience the following side effects, you should not take the wheel:
- Impaired cognitive performance
- Lack of coordination
- Problems with vision
The FPM further notes that pain itself can make it difficult for you to drive. It can affect your physical movements and makes it difficult for you to concentrate. Therefore, it is safer for you to not drive soon after the hair transplant.
Can You Walk To Your Hotel or Home After A Hair Transplant?
Even if you live close to the hair transplant clinic, don’t walk right after the surgery due to the potential side effects of benzodiazepines, anaesthesia, sedation and painkillers.
In addition, if the clinic is located in a busy area of the city, a lot of dust may settle on your newly transplanted grafts, which can increase the risk of infection. And if you start sweating, you can dislodge your grafts while risking infection.
It’s not that you can’t walk after a hair transplant. You can (in fact, you’re encouraged to), but it needs to be a short, light walk so that you don’t sweat or tire yourself out. But while you’re getting out of the clinic, it’s better to get back to your accommodation in a car.
Drugs administered before a hair transplant can impair your ability to drive, so you should avoid driving for at least 24 hours afterwards. According to GOV.UK, it’s also illegal to drive while under the influence of legal, prescription drugs “if it impairs your driving.”
That’s why it’s much safer to arrange transport services (we can do that for you) or have someone come pick you up. And just be careful to not bump your head on the roof of the car while you’re getting in! That’s also not good for your grafts.