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Medical Issues and Hair Transplant Surgery: What You Need to Know to Keep You Safe

Before you go in for surgery, it is important to discuss a range of medical issues with your doctor or surgeon. Remember, you are not coming in to simply tape those new strands of hair on your head. A hair transplant is an invasive treatment that your body should be able to deal with to achieve successful results. Here is a list of concerns you need to cover during a consultation.

Physical Health

Before an operation, a physical examination is important to assess whether you are physically fit for surgery. A hair transplant may not be as invasive as other cosmetic procedures, like breast augmentation or tummy tucks, but the fact remains that it disrupts skin integrity. In line with this purpose, the surgeon will prescribe that you undergo blood tests, cardiac testing, or pulmonary clearance. This step is essential in minimizing the risk for complications like excessive bleeding or infection at the surgical site.

Your general health can also determine how you recover after surgery. For the new hair grafts to grow healthy, you need to have a healthy system to nourish it from the inside. Consequently, good physical health will also allow incisions to heal faster.

Diabetic patients, for instance, are given special instructions because the disease can impair their ability to heal properly. Prominent factors that affect the rate of healing in a diabetic include poor circulation, immune system deficiency, and infection.  This is the reason why a personal consultation is always necessary so that you can discuss your specific concerns with your surgeon.

Medical History

Gathering your medical history is also an important step because this helps the surgeon to be aware of pre-existing conditions and surgery you have had in the past. This influences decisions about the operation you will have or the type of anaesthetic to be used.  A complete medical history record should include information like:

  • Diagnosis
  • Known Allergies
  • Current Medications
  • Past and Present Illnesses
  • Previous Surgery
  • Family Medical History
  • Current History
  • Medication History
  • Immunization Records
  • Insurance Information

Hair Evaluation

A hair evaluation is a step in the surgical process that is unique to hair transplant surgery. The information gathered will help the surgeon determine the extent of your hair loss, the history of hair loss in your family, and any prior surgical or medical treatments for hair loss that you have had. Furthermore, this will also help the surgeon map out a surgical plan based on the unique characteristics (e.g. hair distribution, angle, or direction) he observed upon assessment.

These hair evaluation methods are grouped into three main categories: non-invasive methods (e.g. questionnaires, daily hair counts, standardized wash test, hair weight), semi-invasive methods (e.g. trichogram or unit area trichogram), and invasive methods (e.g. scalp biopsy).  When interpreted with caution, these methods are valuable tools in making a diagnosis and monitoring.

Risks and Possible Complications

A realistic approach to hair transplant surgery is to consider the possible complications aside from its obvious benefits. Knowing the risks will help you weigh whether a hair transplant is right for you or not.  Just because it has been a highly successful surgical procedure, doesn’t mean that it is your best option. You need to weigh the risks against its potential benefits to see if it is worth going into.

Potential complications associated with hair transplant include, infection, excessive bleeding, swelling, scarring, itching and numbness.  Dissatisfaction is also possible with any type of cosmetic surgery, although this is avoidable.

These matters need to be discussed to avoid exposing the patients to these risks and potential complications. On one hand, this information can also determine if you are a good candidate or not.

Medications and Supplements

If you are taking medications, tell the surgeon what you have been taking on a regular basis, or have taken recently. Over-the-counter preparations and even supplements must be disclosed because these can also put you at risk during and after the surgery. For example, supplements with gingko biloba may increase the risk of bleeding. Even your vitamin E supplement poses a certain risk for bleeding.

Past Reactions to Medications

If you have had any bad reactions, or have experienced certain side effects with a certain medication, inform your surgeon during consultation. This warning should include anaesthetics or any solution used during surgery. Any reaction to shellfish should also be disclosed because in some surgeries, an Iodine solution would be applied on the surgical site, which has similar components.

Your Habits and Health

Smoking and drinking too often is a habit that can steer you away from surgical success. As a matter of fact, these habits can increase your risk for complications.

The nicotine in cigars is a vasoconstrictor (constricts blood vessels) which reduces nutritional blood flow to the skin. A study showed that slower healing has been observed clinically in smokers with wounds that are a result of trauma, disease, and surgical procedures.  Compared to non-smokers, smokers also have a greater degree of complications following breast surgery. This is why smokers are advised to stop smoking at least 4 weeks prior to surgery, or even when recovering from it.

Alcohol, especially when consumed in copious amounts regularly, can worsen medical conditions and also delay wound healing. The presence of alcohol in large quantities in the body can damage the immune system increasing the risk for infections, bleeding, and other complications. Binge drinking alcohol significantly reduces the levels of key components of the immune system that are involved in healing.

Physical preparedness is definitely an important aspect for you to consider in deciding on a hair transplant procedure. Not every patient comes in with a squeaky clean bill of health, so we ensure that we have the right candidates before we even move forward with surgery. This is why we want to talk to you so that we know how best we can approach any existing issues that may affect the procedure or its outcome.

Talk more about your hair transplant concerns with Dr. Daood today. The Sydney Hair Transplant team aims at giving each patient that walks through our doors a customized approach to hair transplants. We ensure that everybody is given the care they deserve to achieve the results they desire. Book your appointment today, and let’s map out a plan suited to your unique needs.

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