Shock loss is the sudden loss of transplanted hair in the donor or recipient area after a hair restoration surgery. This loss of hair mainly happens due to surgical traumas. It can be intimidating. But there’s no need to worry as this is a transitional and temporary phase that will go away after a while. You will see your healthy hair once this phase is over.
In this article, we will discuss shock loss in detail. To give you a general overview of what we are going to discuss, here is a summary of the article:
- SHOCK LOSS IS THE LOSS OF NEW HAIR AFTER HAIR TRANSPLANTATION IN THE RECIPIENT OR DONOR SITES.
- SHOCK HAIR LOSS IS A NORMAL AND TEMPORARY SITUATION AND WILL GO AWAY ON ITS OWN.
- THIS FALLING OUT OF HAIR HAPPENS DUE TO SURGICAL TRAUMAS AND DECREASED BLOOD SUPPLY DURING THE OPERATION
- SHOCK LOSS HAPPEN 2-8 WEEKS POST-OP AND USUALLY IS RESOLVED WITHIN 3-6 MONTHS
- EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN NOT PREVENT ITS INCIDENCE, YOU CAN USE MINOXIDIL AND FINASTERIDE TO SPEED UP HAIR REGROWTH
- SHOCK LOSS IS A COMMON AND NATURAL SIDE EFFECT OF HAIR TRANSPLANT SURGERY WITH %90-95 PREVALENCE
What Is Shock Loss?
Shock loss is the sudden loss of implanted hair after hair restoration surgery. It can be quite distressing for a hair transplant patient, but rest assured as it is not a permanent situation and will be resolved within a few months.
After this phase, the healthy hair will start to grow permanently. It can happen anywhere on the scalp. If it happens above or below the site where hair follicles were extracted, it can be called donor hair effluvium.
Shock loss can happen in patients who still have some pre-existing hair on the transplanted area. In this case, it is also known as recipient-site effluvium.
According to an article by Hiromi Okochi and colleagues in 2023, sex is an identified risk factor for shock loss. Females have higher risks of hair loss at the recipient site after hair restoration surgery.
But again, there is no need to be concerned. This shedding of hair is short-term and prepares the follicles to give birth to strong permanent hair.
What Are The Signs Of Shock Loss After Hair Transplant?
The signs of shock loss after a hair transplant are the sudden falling out of the transplanted hair on the scalp, whether on the donor or recipient area. There will be no bleeding or pain while the hair sheds.
Here are the shock loss signs:
- SUDDEN LOSS AFTER THE PROCEDURE
- HAPPENS IN THE NEWLY TRANSPLANTED HAIR
- REGROWTH AFTER A COUPLE OF MONTHS
Is Shock Loss Normal?
Yes, shock hair loss is a normal part of the hair transplantation healing process. It is safe to say that shock loss is a side effect of hair transplantation surgery. It will be resolved soon with full recovery.
How Bad Is Shock Loss?
Shock loss is not a bad symptom, but a normal and natural occurrence that demonstrates growth and the success of the hair transplant operation.
If there’s no bleeding associated with this shock hair loss, there is no need to worry. Contact your doctor if there’s bleeding. It can be a sign of dislodgement, especially if it’s in early weeks.
Does Shock Loss Always Happen?
While shock hair loss is a common and expected phenomenon after a hair transplant, it does not occur in every case. Some individuals may not experience it at all, while others may experience only mild or temporary shock loss.
The condition is typically temporary, and the affected hair typically regrows naturally as the hair follicles return to their normal growth cycle.
If you have concerns about the possibility of shock loss or experience excessive hair loss after a hair transplant, it’s important to consult with your surgeon for guidance and reassurance.
Is Shock Loss Permanent?
No, the shock loss after a hair transplant procedure is interim. This phenomenon usually happens 2-8 weeks after hair transplantation and will resolve several months post-op. The hair grows back usually after 3 months.
What Is The Difference Between Shock Loss And Shedding After A Hair Transplant?
According to a study by Dr. Anil Kumar Garg and his colleagues published in 2021, shock loss refers to the falling out of the preexisting hair after a hair transplant while shedding is the loss of the transplanted hair grafts after the procedure. Both situations are temporary. The difference is the kind of hair affected, native hair or newly implanted.
Usually, the loss of implanted hair after the procedure is mistakenly referred to as shock loss, while it actually should be shedding. For better understanding, we also use shock loss to talk about the falling out of newly transplanted hair.
Why Does Shock Loss Happen?
Shock loss after hair transplant surgery happens due to the trauma of surgery. To better understand the mechanism of shock hair loss and its causes we need to briefly talk about the hair growth cycle. This cycle can be divided into 3 phases:
When the hair enters the resting phase, it falls out. Surgical trauma causes shock loss by entering the hair into the resting phase.
The traumas of the surgery include:
- LESS BLOOD FLOW TO THE FOLLICLES TO THE VASCULAR SUPPLY CUT OFF
- EFFECTS OF THE ANESTHETIC AGENT
- STRESS FROM PINCHING OR INCISIONS
- EXCESSIVE EDEMA
- DIRECT TRAUMA TO THE HAIR FOLLICLE
Does Hair Grow Back After The Shock Loss?
Yes, the hair will start to grow back 3-6 months post-op. As we mentioned earlier this is a transitional phase and will be resolved within months. The patients can see the maximum fullness and hair thickness 12-18 months after the operation.
Systemic steroid injections might help the hair grow faster. An experienced hair transplant surgeon can give the best instructions for faster hair growth for each patient individually.
When Does Shock Loss Occur?
Shock loss happens 2 to 8 weeks after surgery. It is normal if you witness shock loss up to 3 months after the operation during the healing time.
Shock loss progress
Hair shedding happens
Permanent hair starts to grow
The final result of the surgery is seen
Does Shock Loss Repeat Itself?
No, the hair shock loss happens after the surgery and during the recovery period. As the scalp is recovering from the procedure, the hair follicles enter the growth phase of the hair cycle. Once the new hair grows, it is permanent and shock loss won’t happen again.
How To Prevent Shock Loss After Hair Transplant?
There is no proven effective way to prevent shedding from happening. It is almost always unavoidable. Even though shedding after the surgery can be frustrating, it is not permanent.
There are some options to reduce the risk of shock hair loss, but they can’t prevent this incident with %100 guarantees. These options are:
- TOPICAL MINOXIDIL
Can Minoxidil Help With Shock Loss?
Yes, minoxidil can help fast hair regrowth after shock hair loss. This is done by dilating the blood vessels and enhancing the blood supply to the area.
In addition, minoxidil can help reduce the chances of shock loss, especially in female patients. %5 minoxidil foam is the most effective option. It also helps hair grow faster by increasing blood flow to the scalp.
Does Finasteride Prevent Shock Loss?
Finasteride does not prevent this hair transplant shock, but like minoxidil, finasteride after hair transplant can decrease the risk, especially in male patients.
What Else Can Be Done To Prevent Shock Loss?
The combination of minoxidil and finasteride is a great therapy that can decrease the risk of shock hair loss after hair transplantation. One increases blood supply to the area while the other causes resistance to hormones responsible for hair loss.
What's The Probability Of Shock Loss After Hair Transplant?
The prevalence of post-transplant shock loss is %90-95. As you can guess it is quite a common occurrence after this surgical procedure. Sex is also a risk factor for shock loss. According to studies, female patients are at higher risk for this temporary hair loss.
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(2) Hoover E, Alhajj M, Flores JL. Physiology, Hair. [Updated 2023 Jul 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499948/
(3) Patel P, Nessel TA, Kumar D D. Minoxidil. [Updated 2023 Aug 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
(4) Okochi H, Onda M, Momosawa A, Okochi M. An Analysis of Risk Factors of Recipient Site Temporary Effluvium After Follicular Unit Excision: A Single-Center Retrospective Study. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2023 Oct 10. doi: 10.1007/s00266-023-03699-z. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37816944.
(5) Kerure AS, Patwardhan N. Complications in Hair Transplantation. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2018 Oct-Dec;11(4):182-189. doi: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_125_18. PMID: 30886471; PMCID: PMC6371733.