Does Hair Transplant Damage Existing Hair?

Once you’ve decided to get a hair transplant, many questions can bother you about the procedure itself. It can be stress-inducing to think about a scenario where your surgery yields poor results and damage to natural hair. Many people wonder, “does hair transplant damage existing hair or not?” This even prompts some people to delay the surgery. 

However, you need to understand a few things when it comes to a question like this. That’s because some things can make you think that your hair loss is occurring because of the transplant, even though it doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Hair Loss Is Natural & Normal 

Our hair goes through a natural growth cycle, which mainly consists of three phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.

  • The anagen phase involves active hair growth and lasts for two to six years. 
  • The catagen phase is transitional and lasts for two to three weeks. It leads to the formation of club hair, which is pushed out in the anagen phase. 
  • Lastly, comes the telogen phase, where almost 10-20% of our hair is at any given time. This is the period of rest that lasts for a hundred days. 

While we’re going through this cycle, we normally lose 50 to 100 hair strands in a day. This is what many people forget to take into consideration when getting their hair transplant. Our hair growth cycle is completely random. Soon after a transplant, you cannot expect your hair to never fall again. 

If they are falling, it’s not because your existing hair has been damaged by the hair transplant. One reason for their shedding is the natural growth cycle through which a hair has to go through. A hair transplant won’t damage your existing hair (or make it fall off permanently). It’s just your natural hair loss. 

Temporary “Shock Loss” After Hair Transplant

The reason why your fears of hair loss may be exacerbated after a hair transplant is “shock loss.” However, this is also completely normal and nothing to get anxious about. Many patients think that their hair transplant has failed completely, and they would also lose their natural hair because the surgery damaged them. We understand that this can raise alarm bells in anyone. But you need to know that this situation is temporary.

The reason for its occurrence is the trauma that the scalp undergoes as a part of the surgery. As you know, hair follicles are taken from the donor area to the balding areas of the scalp. Minute incisions are made for their insertion and extraction. This can shock your transplanted and existing hair. Rarely, is there ever a risk of permanent damage and in those cases, it is usually the surgeon’s lack of experience that is responsible.

As long as the grafts stay in place, you have nothing to worry about. The natural hair gets stressed from the transplantation of new follicles. Only the hair strands are falling out. The roots stay. Your hair will start to grow back in no time, stronger than ever.

This is a problem that affects both natural and transplanted hair. However, the matter is resolved in some time, and you will be able to enjoy a full head of hair. So, does hair transplant permanently damage existing hair due to shock loss? No, it’s just temporary because of the stress on the body. 

Surgeon’s Lack of Expertise and Loss of Natural Hair 

A hair transplant performed by an inexperienced surgeon can damage the existing hair. Revision surgeries are often sought by those who experience this. They also wonder if the previous surgery damaged their existing hair enough that they won’t be able to have another surgery.

Hair transplant is a meticulous procedure. It requires precision, skill, care, and years of experience to be performed successfully. This is because it requires dealing with the smallest details that can have a large impact on the final results. For instance, in an FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) hair transplant, the surgeon is taking out a single follicle at a time for shifting it to another area on the scalp.

As they’re doing this, there are a lot of things that can go wrong if they don’t know their craft well. It is important that the hair follicles do not stay outside of the body for too long, as it’ll cause them to die. This means that even after the transplant, no growth will be observed. 

Therefore, speed is of the essence in this surgery. If the surgeon has no idea of the anatomy of the hair follicle, they might mishandle it. This will, of course, impact the extraction and insertion. You need to find the right clinic with experienced surgeons.

That’s because you are risking permanent damage to your existing hair that won’t ever grow. Another mistake that inexperienced surgeons make is that they don’t identify the “right” part of the donor area. They might extract hair from the region that is close to the balding area, where there are greater chances of shedding.

Hair has to be taken from those parts which are insensitive to the effects of the hormone DHT (which causes hair fall). Although there’s no way to identify, for certain, which hair are or aren’t, some areas are more suitable for extraction. They can also end up overharvesting, which can also permanently damage existing hair. 

Continued Miniaturization of Hair Follicles 

You might end up needing more than one hair transplant surgery in your lifetime. That’s because some people continue losing their hair even after the surgery. Your surgeon may warn you about that happening. This is usually avoided by allowing the hair loss pattern to set in so that a stable donor area is easily recognized. Still, hair loss can continue as the person ages, which means that they’d need a second hair transplant. 

Keep in mind that this kind of hair loss might not happen immediately after the surgery but some time later, maybe years. In those cases, where it’s happening soon after you’ve had the surgery, it may be because the surgeon didn’t identify the right donor areas and transplanted grafts that were sensitive to DHT hormone

Moreover, sometimes, the patients come in with thinning hair on their scalp. Here, it is important to remember that these hairs are most likely to be sensitive to the hormone DHT. This means that they will eventually fall. Thus, when you go for hair transplant surgery, your existing hair, which is sensitive to the effects of dihydrotestosterone, will not be damaged. Instead, they’ll die naturally.

In reality, it’s just the hair in the balding region that was supposed to fall off, shedding permanently. The insertion of new follicles will alter the local circulation causing existing hair to fall. However, new hair will grow in its place, so you have nothing to stress about.

Other Reasons for Existing Hair Loss

If you’re suffering from an illness after getting hair transplant surgery, that can make you lose your hair because of telogen effluvium. Here, too, you may end up wondering if the restoration surgery damaged the existing hair. However, it’s just the timing of the illness coinciding with the surgery.

The same can happen because of nutritional deficiencies and treatments of illnesses after surgery. If any of this happens, you should contact your surgeon. Normally, you will start seeing the results of your surgery after a few months, at most.

To Sum Up 

Your mind is trying to focus on everything that could go wrong without thinking about all that can go right. While there are scenarios in which existing hair can fall out, in most cases, their roots will remain undamaged. Therefore, your hair will grow back. This is not because of any lack of expertise of the medical team but because of the way the body reacts to the surgery.

However, there are other cases in which the existing hair damage is because of the way your hair grafts were dealt with during the surgery. A hair transplant in Turkey can be a big decision, which is why you should not jump into it without a consultation with a qualified and professional hair transplant surgeon. 

If a clinic is trying to take away your money straight away, they’ll most probably proceed with a hair transplant. Whether you need it or not would not matter to them. That is why you should be very careful.

Sometimes patients ask us to improve the density of hair in those receding areas that have too many natural hairs. In some scenarios, we have to make sure that they remain where they are, which is why we recommend a PRP treatment to achieve a good hair density. 

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.

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