Most of our patients, who are considering a hair transplant, are often struggling with the idea of avoiding smoking before and after a hair transplant. It is not a coincidence that one of the most frequent questions they ask is: Why is smoking prohibited before and after a hair transplant?
Though the negative effects of tobacco consumption on our health are widely known, recent studies threw light on the relation of nicotine consumption with slowed tissue healing and hair loss.
Therefore, this article will briefly explain the effects of smoking on hair transplant surgery and hair health by remaking why smoking tobacco negatively impacts the survival rate of grafts and thus, overall results. At Dr Serkan Aygin Clinic, we make sure that our patients are well-informed about how long to avoid smoking before and after a hair transplant to achieve the best hair transplant results.
How Does Smoking Affect Hair Transplant Results?
Due to the chemicals present in cigarettes, smoking has a negative impact on hair growth, it is known to exacerbate hair loss by depriving the hair follicles of oxygen and nutrients essential for hair follicle survival. But do we know why smoking negatively affects hair transplant surgery results?
- Smoking leads to constriction of blood vessels
Tobacco smoke causes hardening and constriction of the blood vessels, known as vasoconstriction.
Narrowing the blood vessels leads to inadequate blood flow and poor circulation, which reduces the oxygen capacity throughout the body.
However, satisfactory oxygen saturation is extremely important for pre-op and post-op stages of hair transplant surgery where the survival of transplanted hair follicles and wound healing process heavily depend on the amount of oxygen transmitted to the tissues. Even further, an undesired delay caused by poor blood circulation in the post-op recovery could even increase the possibility of infection after a hair transplant, which puts hair follicle survival in great danger.
Accordingly, patients planning to undergo a hair restoration surgery are asked to quit smoking one week prior to the operation date, and not smoke a cigarette one week after their hair transplant operation.
Slow Tissue Healing
- Toxins contained in a cigarette harm the tissue structures.
The toxins in the blood of smokers also permeate the tissue, which further compromises the wound healing process. Also, as we’ve remarked above, a slow recovery period puts patients at greater risk of infection and scarring.
Excessive Crusting and Scabbing
- Smoking impairs wound healing and causes the formation of excessive crusting and scabbing after a hair transplant operation.
As remarked above, smoking cigarettes have a negative effect on the recovery process after a hair transplant surgery. The presence of nicotine in the blood vessels increases bleeding during a hair transplant surgery (at the stages of hair follicle extraction and recipient site creation in FUE hair transplant) by delaying the scab formation to stop bleeding.
Excessive bleeding could also cause excessive crusting on the scalp after a hair transplant, which may itch and irritate patients a little. Therefore, the best decision to avoid excessive scabbing and crusting is to stop smoking before your hair restoration surgery at Dr Serkan Aygin Clinic.
Adverse Effects on Anesthesia
- Smoking could possibly affect the circulation of anesthetic agents in a patient’s body.
The nicotine affects the regular circulation of oxygen to all the organs, so indirectly it could lead to poor circulation of anesthetic agents in the patient’s body, thus increasing the chances of complications during a hair transplant surgery.
Correlation Between Smoking and Hair Loss
The role of environmental factors, such as smoking, has been found to negatively affect hair growth. Chemicals and carcinogens present in cigarettes can cause damage to keratin, one of the most important hair proteins. The hair will begin to get dry and the growth process will slow down, while any interruption of the hair growth cycle can cause a visible hair loss.
In a 2003 study, researchers underlined that chemical components in tobacco smoke may cause damage to the DNA of cells in hair follicles. Damage to the DNA of these cells may potentially result in impaired hair growth.
As reported by another study in 2020, smoking is found to increase androgenetic alopecia (hair loss) in individuals. The study finds that the prevalence of alopecia cases was higher amongst smokers. As stated in the research, 425 out of 500 smokers had a greater extent of hair loss, while only 200 of 500 non-smokers showed signs of hair loss.
At this point, it is important to note that quitting smoking will assist you in avoiding lifestyle-related hair loss. This means that, if you are experiencing a hair loss due to a genetic predisposition, though continuing to smoke may exacerbate the problem even further, quitting smoke will not automatically mean that your hereditary hair loss will stop.
Smoking Before and After a Hair Transplant Surgery
We know that you might be very tempted to smoke either before or after your hair transplant, ready to ask questions like “How about smoking one cigarette after hair transplant” or “How about mild smoking after a hair transplant?”. Here is the answer for how long you should wait before and after your hair transplant to smoke.
Smoking Before a Hair Transplant
At Dr Serkan Aygin Clinic, we generally recommend stopping smoking a week before the surgery, to give your body the time to get it out of your system. During this time,
- Oxygen levels in your blood will increase
- Blood circulation will improve as well (helping you with avoiding excess bleeding)
Thus your hair transplant recovery can vastly improve, and the overall success of your hair transplant surgery can change completely.
Smoking After a Hair Transplant
We advise you to stop smoking for a minimum of seven days after a hair transplant procedure. Cigarettes contain nicotine which has a basic tendency to constrict the blood vessels and reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and thus weaken the nutritional supply of the scalp.
- Poor blood circulation slows down the recovery after a hair transplant.
- Smoking after a hair transplant decreases the chance of obtaining a successful hair transplant.
Also, until scars are not properly healed, there is still a risk of infection. Also, the crusts and scabs may stay on the surface of the scalp longer than necessary, thereby increasing the risk of forming scar tissue. So, it is better to avoid smoking till the time of a full recovery.
Quitting smoking is necessary to prevent complications that may cause the unsuccess of the operation; nicotine is the main cause of weak blood perfusion, and since implanted follicles need a sufficient flow of blood to survive, this causes the follicles’ death and compromise transplant results.
But we should remind you that smoking is not the sole reason that can compromise your hair transplant. As we know, the are so many factors that may worsen the results of a hair transplant. However, as a precaution, it is necessary to stop smoking. There are many examples of smokers who have been able to experience successful hair results. But at the same time, there is still a high risk of low density for those who smoke.
If you need any additional information related to smoking and hair transplants in Turkey, please get in touch with our team, and we will be happy to help you.