You’ve decided to get hair transplant surgery; it’s going to transform your life and forever change the way you look. You may be feeling many emotions and thinking a lot of things. Of course, this can end up putting you on edge.
And to calm your nerves a little, you might just reach for the bottle or anything alcoholic, for that matter. However, feeling that it may not be in their best interests, many people ask, “can I drink alcohol before hair transplant surgery?“
Drinking alcohol does things to your body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alcohol changes your behaviour and disrupts motor coordination. It also weakens the immune system making you more vulnerable to diseases.
If you drink too much in one go, your defences to fight infections are lowered. This effect can continue for a day after binge drinking. Needless to say, doing that before the hair transplant surgery is not a good idea.
Can I Drink Alcohol Before Hair Transplant?
You should absolutely not drink alcohol before your hair transplant. That’s because you’re going to put your life in jeopardy. We get it: you’re nervous. However, there are quite a few ways in which alcohol can harm your body just before you’re going to have this surgery.
Risk of Increased Bleeding
There are two ways in which alcohol does that:
Affects Blood Clotting
In a hair transplant, the surgeon will make small puncture wounds in the donor area to extract the hair grafts. S/he will also make incisions in the recipient area in an FUE hair transplant. These are all injuries.
Albeit the wounds are very small, they will bleed. And in order to stop the bleed, the body will send platelets that will stick together to form a clot.
That’s what happens normally. However, what alcohol does is it will reduce the stickiness of the platelets, inhibiting them from forming a proper blood clot.
Not just that, but it will also decrease the production of platelets. This presents a risk of increased bleeding during the hair transplant surgery and makes the aftercare harder.
Thins the Blood
Because the blood cannot clot normally, it thins the blood, making a person bleed more. And that, in turn, will cause the blood pressure to drop dramatically during the surgery. In this scenario, the surgeon cannot continue performing the surgery.
That’s because they’re working on a micro-scale. The oozing blood will keep them from precisely extracting and implanting grafts. They’ll have to continually wipe the blood off, which will end up prolonging the surgical time. So, they’ll have to stop to stabilize the bleeding before they can continue with the surgery.
Permanent Damage to Newly Transplanted Hair Grafts
Increased bleeding will delay the formation of scabs, meaning that your wounds will stay open for longer than usual, increasing the risk of infection. It can affect the survival of the new hair follicles and permanently damage the results.
The newly transplanted grafts need the necessary nutrients and oxygen from the blood supply to stay put. Your grafts will not get an adequate supply of these, resulting in permanent damage. That is why you should not drink alcohol before a hair transplant.
Fluctuations in Blood Pressure
According to Scientific American, alcohol intoxication results in vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), and even higher levels result in vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). This causes fluctuations in the blood pressure of the individual.
When the blood pressure of the patient is too high or low, undergoing surgery puts their health at risk. In this scenario, your hair transplant will not be performed, leading to its postponement. In addition, high or low blood pressure will prolong the recovery period and lead to poor results.
Weakening of the Immune System
Alcohol can impair the normal functioning of the immune system. It affects the body in different ways. For instance, it can cause microbiome imbalance in the gut while allowing more harmful bacteria to flourish.
Research shows that alcoholism increases the risk of infection and delays wound healing after surgery. It can also cause organ damage, pneumonia, and acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS). Moreover, it can adversely affect the immunity of the lungs.
The risk of infection is too high and wound closure will become harder during the healing process. It’s not the only way alcohol can lower your immunity:
If you lose too much blood due to the thinning effect of alcohol, iron deficiency can also affect immune response.
Another reason why you should avoid alcohol is that it can put a load on your liver. That’s because it has to metabolize the compounds in the anaesthesia and the alcohol.
Anaesthetists have to adjust the dose if the patient has incurred liver damage due to alcohol abuse. Moreover, together they can make you feel more nauseous after the surgery. You may even end up vomiting.
If you have had alcohol before surgery, our surgeons will not operate. It will only lead to inconvenient delays.
You may have taken time off work to get the surgery, but in this case, it will be for nothing.
So, to avoid this hassle, especially if you’re getting surgery in another country where delay will equal more expense, avoid alcoholic beverages.
For How Long Can I Drink Alcohol Before Surgery?
It is recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol for a week before the hair transplant surgery. It is absolutely crucial that you do not consume any alcohol two days before the procedure. Many patients end up drinking just the night before the surgery. Do not do that!
That’s because it can result in surgical complications, delay the surgery (extending your stay at the hospital), and draw out the recovery.
You will have more bruising than what’s considered normal. Moreover, since alcohol can also cause dehydration, you will have more swelling after the surgery. So, the best thing to do at this stage is to avoid alcohol.
What Happens If I Do Drink Alcohol Before Hair Transplant?
Some patients still end up in this situation despite being advised against drinking. In this case, remember the famous saying, “never hide anything from your doctors or lawyers.” It can become a matter of life and death for you.
Therefore, first and foremost, inform the surgeon about how much alcohol you’ve had. Full disclosure will help them in tackling situations if anything goes wrong.
Your surgeon will explain the risk of consuming alcohol to you before the surgery. Alcohol consumption can lead to excessive bleeding and damage to implanted hair grafts. Knowing everything, if you still choose to have the procedure, the surgeon may perform it but only some cases.
The surgeon can ask for additional blood tests, such as coagulation tests. A blood test will show whether or not your blood clots normally. If it does, then surgery is safe. If it isn’t clotting normally, it is best to postpone the surgery.
The best way to avoid this whole situation is to avoid consuming alcohol for your sake and the sake of your transplanted hair. After consulting with the surgeon, you can get surgery after two days. However, this is only possible if your blood clotting gets back to normal.
What Happens If I Drink Alcohol Right After Hair Transplant?
It’s still not a good idea. If you’re drinking alcohol right after an FUE hair transplant or any other surgery, it will result in poor blood circulation. This is just bad news for hair transplants, as we’ve described above. Moreover, you’re risking a scalp infection while dealing with increased swelling.
For a trouble-free recovery, it’s best to stay hydrated, not consume alcohol or smoke, eat good, and give your body time to heal. If you do good during the recovery period, it encourages optimum growth of the new hair.
When Can I Start Drinking Alcohol After Hair Transplant?
You need to wait for at least a week before going anywhere near an alcoholic beverage. Till then, water is your best friend, and you should try quenching your thirst with that.
You can also try fresh fruit juices and teas for self-soothing. Even after a week, you shouldn’t just start binge drinking. Take things slowly, listen to your body and help it recover.
We suggest you stop drinking alcohol a week before the surgical procedure. You must do so because otherwise, there’s a high chance that you’ll end up developing complications during and after the surgery. Moreover, you might end up dissatisfied with the results of the surgery.
The blood-thinning effects of alcohol can make you bleed more during surgery. Bleeding too much can result in a drop in blood pressure. And it can weaken your immune system. If you have had a drink, do not hide it from your doctor. Make sure to inform them so they can make recommendations that ensure your safety.
It helps if you drink non-alcoholic beverages instead, such as water or foods rich in water content. You need to follow all the aftercare instructions during the recovery process to promote healing.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.