After a transplant, shedding takes place because of trauma to the hair follicles during the removal and handling of the grafts. Coupled with a loss of blood supply to the area, this can cause the new hair to go dormant for a few months, resulting in a lack of growth.
This is a perfectly normal side effect and is not a major concern for those in recovery.
During a hair transplant, your physician moves follicles from areas of the scalp that still contain thick, healthy hair to areas where balding or hair loss has started to take place. This involves the migration of between 500 and 2000 tiny grafts. The entire process can take between four and eight hours depending on how many hair follicles you are having positioned into place.
After the transplant is finished, your scalp is likely to feel quite tender. Two to four weeks after the surgery is when you are most likely to see your transplanted hair fall out. New hair growth will start up again within 5-6 months.
If you experience hair shedding at any point after a transplant, this doesn’t mean that your surgery was not effective. Give it time and new hair growth will start to occur.
The Stages of Hair Growth Explained
Shedding to gain new hair is a part of the growth cycle. To fully understand why hair loss occurs and how it’s possible to replace it, it’s important to understand the hair growth cycle. It happens in three phases; anagen, catagen and telogen.
Hair growth begins with anagen (the growth phase).
Hair is constructed by the body from keratin, a fibrous protein that the body uses to build nails and skin and grows at a pace of around half an inch a month. Growth can accelerate in the summer; however, the difference is not dramatic.
The anagen hair growth phase lasts up to 5 years, reaching up to 30 inches at full length.
The exception to the rule, Asians can grow hair for 7 years and up a length of 1 metre.
After the anagen phase, hair enters the catagen phase -a short, transitional period that lasts approximately 10 days. At this point, the hair bulb at the bottom of the follicle detaches from the blood supply and moves upwards before eventually detaching from the hair and allowing it to shed.
Lastly, your hair enters the telogen phase, a resting phase when your hair is released and falls out. The follicle then remains inactive for 3 months before the process is repeated.
Hair loss, hair thinning and problems with hair growth occur when your growth cycle is disrupted. This can be triggered by metabolic issues, stress, illness or poor levels of nutrition. However, male-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is the most common cause. It occurs when the body releases certain hormones, particularly dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is an androgen that is key to giving men their masculine characteristics (muscle growth, low voice etc.) and causes hair follicles to shrink. There are treatments that halt DHT production and can slow down hair loss. If you would like to know more then consult a qualified doctor.