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Hair Transplant Gone Wrong: Why It Happens? How To Avoid Botched One

If you are facing too many scars on the scalp, a poor hairline, patchy areas, or even worse results after a hair restoration surgery, it may mean your hair transplant has gone wrong.

While our hearts go out to patients who have experienced a botched hair transplant, we will investigate if a hair transplant can fail and give you tips on not becoming another bad story of a hair transplant gone wrong. 

Here are the key points from the article: 

  1. ALTHOUGH HAIR TRANSPLANTS CAN FAIL, IT IS RELATIVELY RARE WITH ONLY 1.97% OF PEOPLE REPORTING BAD OUTCOMES. 
  2. SEVERAL FACTORS CAN LEAD TO FAILED HAIR TRANSPLANTS, INCLUDING SCALP NECROSIS, OVERHARVESTING, AND MORE.
  3. IF YOU HAD A BOTCHED HAIR TRANSPLANT, WATCH OUT FOR CERTAIN SYMPTOMS AND CONSULT A HAIR SPECIALIST FOR REVISION.
  4. TO PREVENT A BAD HAIR TRANSPLANT EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH THOROUGHLY, AND CHOOSE THE CORRECT CLINIC.

Read on the find out if a hair transplant gone wrong can be avoided or fixed. 

Can A Hair Transplant Fail?

Hair transplant failure can happen if the grafted follicles don’t grow or fall out due to various reasons. But keep in mind that only 1.97% of patients complain about poor results or experience graft failure.

The hair grafts are harvested from the patient’s scalp and implanted back into the same scalp. This allows for the compatibility rate between the scalp and the grafts to remain 100%, so the chance of the immune system attacking newly transplanted follicles is minuscule. 

Technically speaking, loss of grafted hair follicles can only happen in the case of lichen planopilaris, which is a rare autoimmune system disorder. Otherwise, it’s nearly impossible for the scalp to reject the hair follicles that originated from itself. 

However, a hair transplant gone wrong doesn’t just mean graft fall. As long as the patient is experiencing abnormal levels of discomfort or dissatisfaction, the hair transplant can qualify as a failure. 

THE REAL SUCCESS RATE OF A HAIR TRANSPLANT CAN ONLY BE CALCULATED BY THE GRAFTS THAT SURVIVED 12 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY.

Why Do Hair Transplants Go Wrong?

There are several reasons why hair transplant surgery might go wrong or why hair transplants look bad. The main reasons for unnatural hair transplants are: 

  1. SCALP NECROSIS
  2. UNLICENSED CLINICS
  3. OVERHARVESTING
  4. UNNECESSARY OR SIGNIFICANT SCARRING
  5. BAD HAIRLINE DESIGN
  6. UNNATURAL APPEARANCE
  7. LICHEN PLANOPILARIS (LLP)
  8. POOR POST-HAIR TRANSPLANT CARE

Scalp Necrosis

Scalp necrosis is the destruction of skin tissue, which permanently damages the area and even prevents new hair follicles from being transplanted. Necrosis can occur both in the donor zone and recipient zone. 

REASONS BEHIND IT:
Donor site scarring during the surgery, a high sugar diet, and excessive tension along the incision line increase the chances of scalp necrosis.

Unlicensed Clinics

Unlicensed clinics are the bane of the hair transplantation industry, with poor techniques tainting the reputation of this solution to hair loss. The lack of a proper medical license aside, some clinics may use outdated equipment or techniques to perform the surgery. 

REASONS BEHIND IT:
An unqualified team executing improper clinical practices leads to hair transplant failures whereas skilled surgeons who receive proper medical training deliver proper hair transplants.

Overharvesting

Overharvesting involves extracting too many grafts, leading to donor area density loss or taking grafts beyond the safe donor zone. Overharvesting might induce scalp necrosis, donor hair death, and hyperpigmentation. A big portion of hair transplant gone wrong cases are caused by overharvesting. 

REASONS BEHIND IT:
Overharvesting may happen if hair transplant surgeries are done in mega sessions with more than 3000 grafts in one sitting.

Unnecessary Or Significant Scarring

Hair transplantation surgeries don’t need to be painful or leave visible scarring. Unnecessary, significant, or excessive scarring contributes to a failed hair transplant. 

REASONS BEHIND IT:
Scarring is easily preventable, which means that it’s usually caused by human error. An amateur team, usage of old-fashioned equipment, and lack of proper hygiene can cause scarring. Additionally, good surgical techniques prevent donor site deformity.

Bad Hairline Design

A bad hairline can be defined as a hairline that’s too low, too straight, or too uneven. Hairline is the storefront of your hair, so a bad hairline can turn a permanent solution to a temporary problem. 

REASONS BEHIND IT:
Inexperienced surgeons design unnatural-looking hairlines. In hair transplantation, not just medical skills but an eye for aesthetics is also important to avoid hairline abnormalities.

Unnatural Appearance

If the healthy hair follicles fail to take in the recipient area, the crown might look patchy or the new strands of hair might not blend well with the rest of the hair. Graft misplacement or placing grafts in the wrong angles can also lead to an unnatural appearance.

REASONS BEHIND IT:
Leaving the grafts outside the body for too long, handling the grafts too powerfully, and not storing grafts properly between harvesting and implanting might ruin the follicular units.

Lichen Planopilaris (LLP)

Lichen planopilaris (LPP) is an autoimmune disease causing permanent hair loss, primarily on the scalp.  Before considering LPP-affected area hair transplants, wait at least a year after the disease becomes inactive to boost hair growth. 

Note that transplanted hair may not be very dense to prevent harm to healthy transplanted hair follicles. In cases with limited donor areas, body and beard hair can help cover bald patches.

  • REASONS BEHIND IT:
    The exact cause is unknown but it’s believed that inflammation may be a trigger. Likewise, hair follicles getting inflamed and being exposed to the immune system due to hair transplantation may lead to LPP. 

Poor Post-Hair Transplant Care

The impatience is understandable, but if you want your successful hair transplant to remain a permanent solution, you have to look after the transplanted hair follicles in the months after the surgery. 

  • REASONS BEHIND IT:
    Inadequate aftercare will lead to infection, visible scars on the skin, poor hair growth, and potentially losing your newly grafted hair follicles. Smoking, drinking alcohol, strenuous activities, and lack of hygiene contribute to hair follicle loss.

Signs Of A Failed Hair Transplant

If you’re wondering if your hair restoration surgery’s gone wrong, look out for these symptoms.

  • EDEMA WITH PAIN AND REDNESS
  • FEVER
  • CYSTS
  • SWELLING OVER THE FACE WITH OR WITHOUT HIVES
  • INFLAMMATION (FOLLICULITIS)
  • DONOR AREA OR RECIPIENT AREA NECROSIS
  • SCABBY SKIN TISSUE AND/OR PUS
  • VISIBLE SCARRING
  • ITCHING


If you encounter any of these symptoms following your hair restoration procedure, please get in touch with your hair transplant clinic immediately.

How To Avoid Having A Botched Hair Transplant?

Don’t want to become one of the hair transplant horror stories? The steps you should follow are very simple. 

  1. DO PLENTY OF RESEARCH:
    Funnel your research efforts into finding hair transplant patients with hairstyles similar to yours. Take a look at their before and after pictures, read about their experiences, and watch videos of the surgery process. Familiarize yourself with the hair restoration journey.

     

  2. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS:
    Even though a hair transplant is a permanent upgrade to hair loss problems, depending on your hair type and hair loss, you might not have the density you’ve had before. Take some time for self-reflection and check if your anticipation matches the outcome you will achieve.

     

  3. COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS:
    Describe your situation and assess what the clinic can provide for you. After you’ve pinpointed the appearance you want to have, communicate your ideas to your surgeon. Collaborate on improving your hairline. If you have any worries, express them clearly to your hair specialist.

     

  4. FOLLOW THE AFTERCARE PROCESS DILIGENTLY:
    The staff will provide you with aftercare instructions, which you are expected to follow exactly. Take care of your newly gained hair and look after the grafts meticulously.
     
  5. CHOOSE AN EXPERIENCED CLINIC:
    Question if potential clinics have the necessary qualifications or certifications to perform hair transplant surgery. Find out information on the doctors and their achievements to decide if their skills match your needs. Read customer reviews and watch videos.


The last subject brought us to the next question in mind: why should you pick Turkey if your hair transplant has gone wrong?

Why You Should Pick Turkey For Your Hair Transplant?

Demand for hair transplants in Turkey is higher than ever with more than 2 million people visiting this affordable destination for their hair transplant operations just in 2022. 

Even though there might rarely be bad hair transplants in Turkey among hundreds of successful hair transplants, it’s still worth coming to Turkey for hair restoration surgery because there are many safe hair transplant facilities in Turkey. 

When it comes to medical tourism, Turkey is second in the world with 48 JCI-accredited hospitals. Due to the Turkish lira decreasing in value, patients from all across the world can afford professional doctors and reputable clinics and avoid black market hair transplant facilities completely. The success rates of Turkey’s hair restoration procedures are above 95% with countless satisfied patients

How To Fix A Botched Hair Transplant?

Repairing a bad hair transplant is not impossible. Hair transplant revision, hair restoration medicine like minoxidil, and scalp micropigmentation are some revision techniques used commonly to revert a botched transplant.

Hair Transplant Revision

Hair Restoration Medicine

An experienced surgeon can lessen the ramifications of a hair transplant surgery gone wrong. 

Experts recommend supplementing the hair transplant procedures and helping transplanted hair follicles grow healthier with medicine. 

Scalp Micropigmentation

Surgery

Scalp micropigmentation is a technique where pigment is applied to scars to reduce visibility. 

In the case of scalp necrosis, the afflicted area has to be removed via surgery to avoid further damage to the scalp.

Apart from these methods, you can support your new head of hair with hair growth-inducing treatments such as PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy), LLL (Low-Level Laser Therapy).

Hair Transplant Regrets: Why People Might Regret

Our hearts go out to patients who had to endure the post-transplant psychological impact. Hair transplant regret can be largely prevented in most cases. The main reasons why people might regret hair transplants are: 

  • CHOOSING THE WRONG CLINIC
  • EXPECTING FASTER RESULTS
  • NEGLECTING AFTERCARE
  • HAVING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
  • UNNATURAL APPEARANCE
  • HAVING A HAIR TRANSPLANT TOO YOUNG
  • NOT DOING ENOUGH RESEARCH
  • THE CAUSE OF HAIR LOSS ISN’T CONDUCIVE TO A HAIR TRANSPLANTATION

Choosing The Wrong Clinic

Finding a reputable clinic with an expert staff isn’t easy amid the abundance of black market hair transplant facilities. Be sure to read reviews from people who have undergone the process at the clinic, examine before and after pictures, and familiarize yourself with the medical standards for surgical procedures. For your own safety, ensure that you never engage with unlicensed or illegal clinics.

Expecting Faster Results

We know that it’s not easy to remain patient throughout the hair transplantation procedures. Keep in mind that hair transplantation is a minor surgery and you will see the best results within 6 months to 1 year after surgery.

Neglecting Aftercare

You have to diligently care for your hair grafts after hair transplant surgery if you want a healthy head of hair and avoid infection. The things that could cause a botched hair transplant can be listed as:

🍺 ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

👟 STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES

🛌 LAYING FLAT ON YOUR HEAD

🚿 NOT FOLLOWING THE CARE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE CLINIC

🩸 SCRATCHING OR HITTING THE HEAD

Having Unrealistic Expectations

You have to consult with a hair transplant surgeon first to assess your chances of a successful hair transplant. If your donor area is not sufficient to cover the recipient area or if you have other conditions that might hinder the process, your hair transplant surgeon might suggest other methods.

Unnatural Appearance

The authenticity of the appearance depends on two things:

THE CONDITION OF YOUR DONOR AREA

THE SKILL OF THE SURGEON

The more abundant your donor area, the richer your recipient area will look. With that in mind, your surgeon is responsible for optimally utilizing your existing hair follicles and creating a natural-looking hairline for you.

Having Hair Transplant Too Young

Male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia is a progressive condition, which means that it’s bound to affect your transplanted hair follicles over time. It’s recommended that patients wait until the rate of hair loss settles. If you get a hair transplant when you’re young, you’re risking transplanted hairs to fall as well.

Not Doing Enough Research

Getting a hair transplant is a significant life choice since it requires people to consider surgery costs, recovery time, travel conditions, and more. Additionally, candidates who have done their research know what to expect from hair transplant procedures and are usually more satisfied with the results.

☎️ You don’t need to hurry into a decision. Consult our hair transplant clinic to help you clear the questions on your mind.

Cause Of Hair Loss Isn't Conduce To A Hair Transplant

Not all types of hair loss can be resolved with hair transplantation. Conditions such as alopecia areata can result in the loss of both your natural hair and hair grafts. Thus, it is essential to consult a physician first and figure out the reason behind hair loss before moving on with hair restoration surgery. Additionally, your hair type might not be ideal for hair restoration procedures, and success rates could be low for you. Therefore, it is essential to consult a physician first and determine the cause of hair loss before proceeding with hair restoration surgery.

Real-Life Stories Of Bad Hair Transplants

Make sure to read patient anecdotes on botched hair transplants to gain the latest information and know what to expect from a good clinic. For example, check out the struggles this English actor went through on account of a hair transplant gone wrong.

Not every hair transplant failure story needs to have a bad ending. Here’s a success story from our very own clinic!

Our patient wasn’t completely satisfied with the hair density after his first hair transplant in the US, so he decided to get a hair transplant revision at Dr. Serkan Aygın’s clinic. 

Another happy ending from 2022 by Dr. Serkan Aygın! Mr. Muhammad returned home with a new handsome head of hair.

fixed botched hair transplant dr serkan aygin

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[2 ] Kılavuz, Emine. (2018). Medical Tourism Competition: The Case of Turkey. International Journal of Health Management and Tourism. 3. 42-58. 10.31201/ijhmt.372364.

 

[3 ] Donovan, Jeff MD, PhD, FRCPC1,2,3. Lichen Planopilaris After Hair Transplantation: Report of 17 Cases. Dermatologic Surgery 38(12):p 1998-2004, December 2012. | DOI: 10.1111/dsu.12014

 

[4 ] Elflein, John. “Total Cost of a Hair Transplant in Select Countries Worldwide in 2020 and 2021 (in U.S. Dollars).” Statista, 14 Nov. 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1233463/hair-transplant-total-cost-selected-countries/.

 

[5 ] Saxena, Kuldeep et al. “Successful Hair Transplant Outcome in Cicatricial Lichen Planus of the Scalp by Combining Scalp and Beard Hair Along With Platelet Rich Plasma.” Journal of Cutaneous and aesthetic surgery vol. 9,1 (2016): 51-5. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.178562

 

Kumaresan, Muthuvel, and Venkatram Mysore. “Controversies in Hair Transplantation.” Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery vol. 11,4 (2018): 173-181. doi:10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_118_18

 

Avram, Marc R et al. “Side-effects from follicular unit extraction in hair transplantation.” Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery vol. 7,3 (2014): 177-9. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.146681

 

Garg, Anil Kumar, and Seema Garg. “Complications of Hair Transplant Procedures-Causes and Management.” Indian journal of plastic surgery : official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India vol. 54,4 477-482. 31 Dec. 2021, doi:10.1055/s-0041-1739255