hair transplant turkey 360 view
Table of Contents

Hair Transplant Side Effects: Common, Short & Long-Term Risks

Hair transplant side effects are temporary reactions in one’s body after the surgery. Usually, one experiences feelings of itching, scabbing, and mild pain. While these are expected and require minimal care; an infection, excessive bleeding, or scalp necrosis are serious issues that need a doctor’s intervention.

Most hair transplant side effects like pain, scabs, and itching are easily manageable at home. Some of them require doctors’ interference, though, they are still easily cured with medications and follow-up visits. 

Here in this article, we explained:

  • COMMON SIDE EFFECTS ARE INEVITABLE BUT NOT SERIOUS ISSUES
  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR EVERY SIDE EFFECT
  • ALMOST ALL THE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS ARE SEEN WITHIN A WEEK
  • A SERIOUS AND RARE SIDE EFFECT INFECTION CAN BE CURED WITH ANTIBIOTICS
  • FUE, FUT, AND DHI HAVE ALL DIFFERENT COMPLICATIONS OTHER THAN GENERAL ONES
  • MALE AND FEMALE HT SURGERIES POSSESS NOTHING BUT SIMILAR SIDE EFFECTS


Now, we will see how to handle hair transplant side effects for the perfect results.

What Are The Risks Of A Hair Transplant? Common And Rare Side Effects

There are no life-threatening side effects of hair transplant surgeries. Common hair transplant side effects are easily manageable and serious complications are rarely seen. 

Here, we have listed all the possible side effects:

  • POST-OPERATIVE PAIN
  • SCARRING
  • NUMBNESS
  • SCABS
  • ITCHING
  • BLEEDING
  • SWELLING
  • BRUISING
  • IRREGULAR HAIR GROWTH
  • SUDDEN HAIR LOSS
  • FOLLICULITIS
  • INFECTION
  • EXCESSIVE BLEEDING
  • COBBLESTONING
  • SCALP NECROSIS


Not all of these side effects are serious, and you should know what to do in case you experience one of them. Right below, in the table, you can easily find the remedy for your condition.

hair transplant side effects, hair transplant risks

The timelines given here are estimated and vary for every patient. The best thing you can do when you experience a side effect is to contact your surgeon.

Is Hair Transplant Dangerous?

Not at all. The surgery is safe, and effective for hair loss. Especially when you are having the surgery from a well-known clinic, you have nothing to worry about. It is also important to be well-informed about the common side effects of the surgery so that you do not have to worry about them.

Post-Operative Pain

Common/ Danger Level: 10%
1/10

The degree of pain is expected to be 4 out of 10, at most. This can take a week. You should be aware of the area where the pain occurs, as it can be related to infection, swelling, or any other side effects as well.

The reason why it happens:

During the operation, many incisions are made on your scalp while you are under anesthesia effect. Once the numbing effect of anesthesia fades away, you might have mild pain for a while because of these incisions.

What to do:

To ease the pain use the prescribed painkiller medications, they will help a lot. If the donor area pain is persistent for more than 2 weeks, and followed by redness or swelling around the area, consult your doctor.

Scarring

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

Scarring is inevitable after a hair transplant. Depending on your surgery method you might get a linear scarring (FUT), or a pinpoint scarring on the back of your head (FUE). These hair transplant scar tissues are expected and nothing to be scared of. Usually, the FUE scar heals nicely, except for the FUT’s linear scarring that remains on your donor site.

The reason why it happens:

The FUE method leaves pinpoint scarring because it collects the hair follicles one by one from the donor site. On the other hand, FUT leaves linear scarring by removing a strip line of skin and collecting the follicles from that. Then, the collected follicles are implanted over the balding area, which leaves those plug-looking scars that heal quickly.

What to do:

Scar formation is almost always unavoidable, be it a linear scare after FUT or small dots due to FUE. There are some effective options to get rid of post-hair transplant scarring such as:

  • SURGICAL REMOVAL
  • LASER THERAPY
  • SCALP MICROPIGMENTATION


Consult your doctor for the best option for you. They will decide on the best solution based on the size of the scar, your skin type, and your aesthetic requirements. 

Numbness

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

It is a common side effect after a hair transplant and is not considered a serious concern. In most cases, the full sensation should return in a week. This was the case for FUE surgery. For FUT, since a huge amount of skin is extracted from your scalp, the numbness can persist longer but should return in 2-3 months.

The reason why it happens:

In a hair transplant, anesthesia is used to numb your scalp putting your nerves to sleep. This gives full numbness through the surgery day on your scalp, which can persist for the following days.

What to do:

Normally, it resolves by itself. However, if the numbness is still there, there can be nerve damage and you should contact your doctor.

Scabs

Common/ Danger Level: 10%
1/10

Scab formation is a natural process of healing. They occur in the following days of your surgery. You should not scrab them as they heal by themselves in at most 2 weeks.

The reason why it happens:

The dried blood and body fluid combination results in scabs over your scalp. These scabs protect your healing tissues from infection and bacteria, so they are part of a healthy and successful hair transplant.

What to do:

You can use the advised shampoo or solution to get rid of scabs when they no longer fall off by themselves.

Itching

Common/ Danger Level: 10%
1/10

Itching after hair transplant is the most commonly seen side effect. It can occur in the donor and recipient areas. The itchy feeling means your body is healing and new hair tissues are growing.

The reason why it happens:

The dried blood and body fluid combination results in scabs over your scalp. These scabs protect your healing tissues from infection and bacteria, so they are part of a healthy and successful hair transplant.

What to do:

Use saline spray, wash your head with the solutions the doctor suggested, and never scratch the area. The itchy area is usually where the follicles are, so take the instructions seriously and wash the follicles gently.

In the long term, if the itchy feeling is really disturbing, consult your doctor, they might recommend using antihistamines or moisturizer for dryness. Again, if you notice any allergic reaction or redness around the itchy area, inform your doctor.

Bleeding

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

Bleeding is a common side effect of the procedure and is nothing serious. You might experience bleeding the day after surgery.

The reason why it happens:

Bleeding might occur when you dislodge a follicle during the very first few days. It is nothing serious but can minimally affect the results. You can try keeping your head elevated and untouched to prevent any other follicle loss.

What to do:

All you have to do to control it is use a dry towel and without rubbing the area suck the blood from there.

Excessive Bleeding

Common/ Danger Level: 50%
5/10

You should not be experiencing excessive bleeding. It is a rare case and even if it does, it usually happens in the surgery room and is easily controlled.

The reason why it happens:

It might happen during the surgery if one of the blood vessels is damaged seriously, which is a rare scenario. The same thing is even less likely to happen during your recovery period for the same reason.

What to do:

If the bleeding is really serious contact your surgeon. Fortunately, almost all the time, the bleeding is minor and you do not have to call your doctor for it as they stop within the first days after your surgery.

Swelling

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

Swelling on the scalp, forehead, and around the eyelids is nothing to be scared of after a hair transplant. It usually takes 3 to 5 days to settle.

The reason why it happens:

Swelling, edema, or fluid accumulation occurs due to our body’s immune system reacting to incisions made during the surgery. Besides, loose donor skin, lymphatic drainage (fluid retention) and gravity pull downward can cause swelling after a hair transplant.

What to do:

Upon that time if you feel like it’s not going away, you might consult your doctor a few weeks later.

To help with swelling after the surgery, keep your head elevated, use the recommended medications, avoid strenuous exercises, and follow the guidelines your doctor gave. Besides, keeping away from salty foods and drinking lots of water will help with the swelling.

Bruising

Common/ Danger Level: 30%
3/10

It might occur as reddish, purple-blue, or greenish marks on the scalp and sometimes around the eyes. It is nothing to be scared of and usually takes a week to heal.

The reason why it happens:

Minor damage to blood vessels during the surgical procedure causes bruising on the scalp. For the eyelids, the fluid migration downward to the surgical site is the reason.

What to do:

You just need to use the prescribed medications if there are any, and wait for the bruising to settle on its own. The skin is stretched after a while and the bruising goes away.

Irregular Hair Growth

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

You might notice some of the follicles are not looking natural and growing at the same time. This is normal in the beginning as not all the follicles grow at the same speed. To see normal hair growth you will have to wait for half a year.

The reason why it happens:

The implanted hair follicles do not have to be in the same phase of hair growth. That’s why they might look a bit different in the first three months. Once you can get a haircut you can get all of them in the appropriate length.

What to do:

The best way to solve uneven growth after a hair transplant is to wait. Irregular hair growth will be solved on its own.

Sudden Hair Loss

Common/ Danger Level: 20%
2/10

Sudden hair loss or shock loss can happen after the surgery. This does not mean your hair is lost again but only shed and now it can grow from the root of the newly planted follicle.

The reason why it happens:

The shock loss occurs because of how surgery is conducted. Before planting the hair follicles, the operation team collects the follicles and keeps them in a solution, where they can get weakened. Usually, around 2-3 months later you can see them growing like your own hair.

What to do:

Since sudden hair loss after a hair transplant is a normal occurrence, you should wait for it to resolve on its own. Usually, after 2-6 months the permanent hair starts to grow. If you wish to fasten this growth following hair loss, there are two medications you can use:

  • TOPICAL MINOXIDIL (FOR MEN AND WOMEN)
  • FINASTERIDE (FOR MEN)


Consult your doctor for eligibility and the proper dosage.

Allergic Reaction

Common/ Danger Level: 40%
4/10

In the first month mark, you might see redness, excessive itchiness, and dryness if you have shown an allergic reaction. 

The reason why it happens:

Allergic reactions after hair transplant might occur due to anesthesia (usually lidocaine), topical creams, and solutions. Besides your existing skin condition like seborrheic dermatitis may also contribute to allergic reactions.

What to do: 

When you have it let your doctor know and they should provide you with the proper care.

Folliculitis

Common/ Danger Level: 40%
4/10

Folliculitis is generally a mild condition that every hair transplant patient can experience within three months. Usually, it does not require any treatment and resolves on its own. If it’s affecting your scalp in general then it can be a moderate problem, reducing the success rate of your surgery.

They appear as white and red spots on the head. If you notice any let your doctor know. They may give you topical creams to help with it.

The reason why it happens:

Folliculitis may happen when hair follicles are disrupted by scratching or touching. Poor surgical techniques and recovery care can also contribute your follicles to being infected causing folliculitis.

What to do:

Try not to touch or scratch your skin. If it becomes too itchy you can ask your doctor to give you a topical cream to help with the irritation. 

Infection

Common/ Danger Level: 60%
6/10

Hair transplant infection is one of the other rare conditions. It presents as redness, swelling, and tenderness. Puss discharge can also be seen. Despite being easily managed, it is a serious condition unless taken care of.

The reason why it happens:

Infection might occur due to poor sanitary conditions of the clinic, interfering a lot with the surgery area (touching, scratching), or because of other health conditions you have.

What to do:

Doctors prescribe antibiotics for a week which usually solves the problem. When you use the prescribed medications you have nothing to worry about.

Cobblestoning

Common/ Danger Level: 60%
6/10

Cobblestoning is the occurrence of tiny little bumps over the hair transplanted area. Mostly, this is not a serious case. It can heal in time on its own within a few months. 

If you see cobblestoning over your head, let your doctor know. If it does not improve within months it can ruin your surgery results. Rarely this condition might call for another surgery to correct it.

The reason why it happens:

You might have cobblestoning after hair transplantation in two different ways. In FUE they occur because of deep injections of hair follicles. In FUT they occur because of extra skin tissues remaining on the follicles.

What to do:

You need to let your doctor know about it as soon as it happens. In most cases, this problem goes away within a month or so and it heals itself. You should be in touch with your doctor and watch the progress in detail. 

Scalp Necrosis

Common/ Danger Level: 80%
8/10

Scalp necrosis, tissue death, or ischemia is a serious and rare condition that can happen when the blood supply is interrupted to your scalp. You should contact your doctor if you see black-like scarring on your head. Usually, scalp necrosis happens when there is tension and infection on the scalp.

The reason why it happens:

When blood supply is cut to the skin or hair follicles, necrosis happens. Most of the time; smoking, infection, and improper recovery care may contribute to scalp necrosis.

What to do:

You should get in touch with your clinic immediately. It is a rare and heavy side effect, so it’s best to inform your doctor right away before it spreads and gets worse. You will most likely get a medicine treatment or a wound treatment depending on the infected tissue.

Short-Term Hair Transplant Side Effects

Short-term hair transplant side effects occur during the first week and usually are solved within the first week again. This is the most important timeline for higher success rates and better outcomes for your hair transplant procedure.

  • BLEEDING : 3 TO 7 DAYS
  • PAIN: 3 TO 7 DAYS
  • BRUISING: 2 TO 5 DAYS
  • SCABS: 3 TO 10 DAYS
  • INFECTION: 3 TO 7 DAYS
  • SWELLING: 2 TO 6 DAYS

Long-Term Hair Transplant Side Effects

Long-term hair transplant side effects occur after the initial healing period and some of them persist for several weeks or months after the procedure. Most of the time they are easily controlled but it is always good to be on the safe side and do the routine controls.

  • ITCHING: UP TO 3 MONTHS
  • FOLLICULITIS: UP TO 3 MONTHS
  • SCALP NECROSIS: UP TO 3 WEEKS
  • DRY SKIN: UP TO 3 WEEKS
  • IRREGULAR HAIR GROWTH: UP TO 3 MONTHS
  • NUMBNESS: UP TO 2 MONTHS 

Side Effects By Hair Transplant Type

Side effects of each hair transplant procedure can be different as in the difference between FUE and FUT surgery. FUE collects the follicles one by one while FUT does the same with a single strip of line.

Hair transplant technique

Side effect

 

 

FUE

 

  • Pinpoint scarring
  • Sparsed donor area
  • Overharvesting
  • Hidden graft tissues
  • Cyst formation
  • Pitting

 

FUT

  • Linear scarring
  • Enlarged linear scar
  • Keloid scarring
  • Suture extrusion
  • Scalp laxity

 

DHI

  • Implant site trauma
  • The wrong angle of implantation
  • Lack of implantation spacing

FUE Hair Transplant Side Effects

Follicular unit extraction or FUE is performed by collecting every follicle one by one from your donor site with a micromotor device. This can lead to side effects of:

  • Pinpoint scarring: White (hypopigmentation) or black (hyperpigmentation) pimple-like scars can be seen on the donor site. They all heal nicely within weeks.
  • Sparsed donor area: Follicles are collected from a wide area on the donor site, to avoid a patchy hair loss look.
  • Overharvesting: The donor area should not be completely bald, instead only the required amount of grafts should be harvested in FUE surgery.
  • Hidden graft tissues: During harvesting, the follicles might get stuck inside the scalp instead of going out.
  • Cyst formation: When the hair follicles are dislocated during harvest, small cysts might occur.
  • Pitting: While inserting or collecting the grafts, the incisions may take place deeper than planned causing a concavity.
  •  

DHI Hair Transplant Side Effects

Direct hair transplantation or DHI is performed with a special tool called a choi pen, opening and implanting the follicles at the same time. This can lead to the side effects of:

  • Implant site trauma: During DHI, doctors use a pen to minimize the trauma to the skin while making incisions. While this is true, it can also traumatize the skin with improper techniques.
  • The wrong angle of implantation: When the follicles are not implanted at the correct angle, the hair looks unnatural.
  • Lack of implantation spacing: When there is not enough space left for the implanted follicles to grow, the follicles cannot grow properly, or healing time is delayed.

FUT Hair Transplant Side Effects

Follicular unit transplantation or FUT is performed by removing a strip of skin from the donor site. This can lead to side effects of:

  • Linear scarring: An expected surgery result of FUT, linear scarring occurs because of the skin harvesting from the back of your head.
  • Enlarged linear scar: When the scar tissue area is larger than it should be, it looks obvious that the person got a hair transplant surgery.
  • Keloid scarring: Keloid scarring is not specific to FUT, but is commonly seen with this procedure. This raised scar occurs after a strip of skin is improperly harvested from the donor area.
  • Suture extrusion: After FUT, suturing is done to close the gap on your scalp. These sutures may protrude if not made or taken care of well.
  • Scalp laxity: After the skin removal procedure of FUT, your skin might lose its laxity and loosen. this is a temporary effect though.

Male And Female Hair Transplant Side Effects

Generally, men and women experience nothing but similar side effects after a hair transplant. The general difference here is how they get their surgeries done. 

Women tend to choose the DHI partial shaving technique compared to men. In this technique, since some part of the hair stays there, the recovery care can be more complicated.

Understanding The Causes Of Side Effects

There are two reasons behind hair transplant side effects; the incisions made during the surgery, and the healing process of these incisions.

Here we listed the general reasons:

  • INEXPERIENCED DOCTORS
  • POOR GRAFTS SURVIVAL
  • SURGICAL COMPLICATIONS
  • LACK OF POST-OP CARE
  • BUMP AFTER HAIR TRANSPLANT
  • UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
  • UNNATURAL RESULTS WITH DOLL EFFECT
  • FOLLOWING FAULTY GUIDELINES

What To Do If You Are Experiencing A Side Effect?

Many side effects are simply cured with basic but crucial recovery guidelines. To achieve the best results simply follow these four steps when you experience a side effect:

  1. CHECK OUT THE SYMPTOMS WITH OUR GUIDE AND TRY IDENTIFYING YOUR CONDITION
  2. FOR A COMMON* SIDE EFFECT FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S RECOVERY GUIDELINES
  3. FOR A RARE* SIDE EFFECT LET YOUR DOCTOR KNOW
  4. DO NOT TRY ANY DIY, UNKNOWN SOLUTIONS, CREAMS, OR DRUGS


*We mentioned the common and rare side effects above.

Your doctor can help you with you, even sometimes remotely by simply with a phone call or by sending your current condition’s photos.

How To Minimize Side Effects?

Before a hair transplant, you will be informed about post-operative care and possible side effects. You should follow these to minimize any possible side effects:

  • PROPER PRE-OPERATIVE PREPARATION
  • DELICATE POST-OPERATIVE CARE
  • FOLLOW-UP VISITS AND MONITORING
  • FOLLOW A HEALTHY DIET
  • AVOID SUN WITH SUN PROTECTION OR HAT

(1) Gholamali A, Sepideh P, Susan E. Hair Transplantation: Preventing Post-operative Oedema. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2010;3(2):87-89. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.69018

(2) Sriphojanart, T., Piamphongsant, P., & Pathomvanich, D. (2020, May 1). Risk factors and prognosis of folliculitis at recipient sites following hair restoration surgery. Hair Transplant Forum International. 

(3) Winters RD, Mitchell M. Folliculitis. [Updated 2023 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547754/

(4) Kerure AS, Patwardhan N. Complications in Hair Transplantation. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2018;11(4):182-189. doi:10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_125_18