Patients who’ve suffered from a burn injury on their scalp can permanently or temporarily lose their hair. The physical and psychological trauma of the incident can become quite overwhelming. Depending on the severity and size of the burn, the hair might or might not ever grow back.
Home remedies can help if the hair loss is temporary. However, if hair loss is permanent, surgical intervention may help. Hair transplant surgery is not only opted by sufferers of androgenetic alopecia but also by patients who have burnt skin and are unable to grow their hair consequently.
So, you can have hair transplant surgery to cover the burnt areas on your scalp. However, there are variations depending on the extent of the injury and its severity. The recovery period can differ and the success rate of the surgery also depends on multiple factors.
What Are the Different Degrees of Burns?
To understand that, you need to become familiar with the anatomy of the skin. The largest organ of your body – your skin – is composed of three layers.
- The outermost layer is the epidermis.
- The layer underneath, which contains your hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves, oil and sweat glands, and connective tissue, is the dermis. This layer of skin plays an important role in the maintenance of temperature, while the presence of nerves helps in sensation. Furthermore, it provides protection to the skin.
- Beneath the dermis lies the layer of fat – the subcutis or subcutaneous fat. The purpose of this layer is to provide insulation while cushioning against shocks.
If the outermost layer of the skin is burnt, you’re dealing with a superficial burn. While it does not blister, your skin will get painful, swollen, dry, and red.
When the epidermis and upper layer of the dermis are burnt, you’re dealing with a superficial dermal burn. In this case, you might or might not form blisters. Your skin might appear pink or red. It is very painful.
If all the epidermis and dermis get damaged, then it’s called a deep dermal burn. In the case of a third-degree or full-thickness burn, all the layers of the skin are damaged. It might also result in damage to the nerves, which can result in loss of sensation in that area. It can also affect the surrounding muscles and bones. The texture and colour of your skin will also change.
Why Doesn’t Hair Grow on Burnt Skin?
Depending on the degree of burn, your skin might or might not have any scar. However, if the burn is deep, tissue damage occurs in the area. It also damages the hair roots. So, the hair growth will stop. To find out if the hair loss is temporary or permanent, you need to go and see the doctor.
He/she will assess the severity of the burn by examining your skin. Permanent hair loss doesn’t always occur as a result of a burn. If your hair got singed or scorched off, you’ll quite likely regrow them.
Once your skin has healed, you can expect normal hair growth to take place. It can take up to three months before your hair starts to grow. However, if it’s any later than that, you should immediately seek help from a professional. If you notice no hair growth for a year, then you might not grow any hair at all.
If the burn is too deep, then your hair roots might be harmed permanently because of the damage to your hair follicles. A scar tissue forms on the damaged skin, which makes it impossible for new hair to grow. In this case, there is not much a patient can do to restore hair growth other than to undergo a hair restoration surgery. Keep in mind that surgery and aftercare may be different for patients with burnt skin.
Can You Experience Alopecia Areata Meanwhile?
Yes. The trauma of the event can cause you to temporarily lose your hair due to the condition known as alopecia areata. You might lose coin-sized patches of hair on your scalp. The condition can also develop in other areas of the body. It can take a year for a person to fully recover from this.
Alopecia areata can occur even if your skin hasn’t gotten burnt. The shock alone can cause you to lose your hair. However, in case of a burn injury, alopecia areata might cause you to lose your hair in those areas of the scalp which aren’t even damaged.
It happens after your hair follicles enter the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle. Your hair might also turn white from the stress after regrowth has taken place in the bald patches.
How Is A Hair Transplant Possible on Burnt Skin?
Due to the loss of hair roots, hair growth cannot take place on burnt skin. However, through hair restoration surgery, the surgeon inserts new roots in the bald, burnt areas of the scalp. This will allow hair growth to start taking place there. Our surgeons have successfully performed hair transplant surgeries on burn victims.
It is true that patients who have burnt skin can achieve a varying degree of success depending on their case. You need to develop realistic expectations regarding the hair transplant results. The tissue damage will not let your hair grow in the way it would on normal skin. Although if the burn is minor, the patient can expect to achieve pretty satisfactory results.
In severe cases, as the skin texture changes and it becomes really thick, the patient may require more than one surgery to achieve a good hair density on their scalp. Such patients require special aftercare. Our surgeons will guide them about it.
Once the surgeon inserts the hair into the follicles in the burnt skin, it will take some time for them to start growing. The hair will grow successfully if it starts receiving blood flow from the nearby blood vessels. It will supply the growing hair with essential nutrients.
What Is the Hair Transplant Procedure for Burnt Skin?
First of all, our surgeon will thoroughly examine your scalp. It is quite possible that you’re recommended more than one hair restoration surgery. Moreover, different areas of the scalp might need to be addressed in different surgical procedures depending on the severity of the burn.
We’ll make sure to discuss these details with you. Other than that, you need to know what you can expect to achieve from the surgery. For this purpose, the surgeon will assess the health of your donor area.
Its ample availability is important for achieving a good density. Sometimes it also happens that the density of the hair gets built up through the performing of multiple surgeries over time.
There are a lot of things that depend on the unique case of the patient, so we cannot make generalised statements about the recovery, the number of surgeries, healing, and density, among other things. We can make an assessment based on your pictures so be sure to share them with us.
The mental and physical toll of a burn injury can severely impact the self-esteem and confidence of a person. Many patients want to immediately get surgery, but it is important that you give your skin some time to heal. Improper healing will cause you to bleed while dislocating the freshly inserted grafts. It is difficult for the skin to gain a firm hold on the grafts if it is too weak and still healing.
Can PRP Injections Help?
Platelet-rich plasma injections can help in healing. These injections can help promote tissue growth, which is why we recommend them. PRP works the same way as stem cells do. They can help in cell rejuvenation. So, we advise and encourage our patients to get PRP injections before and after the hair transplant surgery. It can support hair growth on burnt skin, as well as promote the skin healing process.
Taking everything into consideration, you should not lose hope. Hair restoration surgery is possible on burnt skin. The procedure will differ, and so will the final results from normal skin, but you can achieve satisfactory results. Depending on how severe the burn is i.e., the layers of skin damaged, the density can vary. You might also experience temporary hair loss due to the shock. However, you’re likely to recover from it after a year.
You should expect to undergo multiple surgeries because of the poor blood flow to the burnt skin. You will also need to be extremely careful during the healing phase. Make sure that you follow all the instructions that your surgeon provides. We recommend you to have PRP injections before and after the transplant as they can support growth in the injured areas of the skin. It can help improve the density of your hair.
If you want to get an assessment or have any questions regarding hair transplant surgery on burnt skin, we can help you. All you need to do is reach out to us, and we’ll have a free initial consultation session with you. Feel free to share your contact information with us to talk about your hair transplant for burnt skin.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.