Your Questions Answered – How Painful is a Hair Transplant?

There are many questions that a patient has when they come to AHI Clinic in South Woodford. These are often addressed during the initial consultation, but there are many occasions when a patient goes home and something else comes to mind – which Dr Waqas Chaudhary will always be happy to address. He finds this to be one of his frequently asked questions: ‘HOW PAINFUL IS A HAIR TRANSPLANT?’  

The Procedure

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure, so the short answer would be that a hair transplant can be painful. 

AHI Clinic uses the FUE technique. This type of hair transplant procedure involves taking individual strands of hair follicles, called grafts, from the donor area which is usually at the back and sides of the head. They are then implanted into a place where hair growth is thin or has been lost.

For this method Dr Chaudhary will need to use an instrument called a motorised punch which makes tiny holes around the hair and follicles. The device itself is less than 1mm in diameter, which helps with less bleeding and faster healing. 

The second part of the process is to transplant the donor hairs. For this we use a very thin sterile blade to make tiny holes in the skin which take the same direction as pre-existing hair. The donor hair is then placed into the holes to create a natural looking hair line and fill in the area of hair loss.   

Pain Relief During Treatment

AHI Clinic recognises how this procedure can cause the skin to feel tender, and a degree of discomfort is experienced as a result – especially if the transplant area is quite large in size. Therefore, we take a number of measures to  make you feel more comfortable. 

Before we go ahead, we numb the treatment area with a local anaesthetic called Lidocaine. As a medical professional who specialises in skin and minor operations, Dr Chaudhary knows that Lidocaine has an acidic nature, and can therefore cause a stinging sensation after injection. However, Dr Chaudhary uses a neutralising solution to reduce this effect. He also uses Lidocaine in a higher concentration so a lesser amount of the anaesthetic needs to be used. 

Another clever trick we use at our clinic is a vibrating device. This acts to distract the brain from the messages sent by the nerves, so less pain is felt. Vibrations are also great for increasing blood circulation, another handy tool for reducing discomfort and inflammation, as well as helping to ease any stress or anxiety.

Studies have also shown that the use of vibration devices can help to produce stimulation-induced analgesia – a naturally reduced perception of pain. This concept was first reported back in the 1960s, with research showing that non-noxious stimuli (the vibrations) activates the large fibres under the skin, and less pain signals are sent to the nervous system via the smaller fibres. 

The combination of these pain reducing methods have proven to be helpful to our patients, and answer the very frequent question: How Painful is a Hair Transplant?

Managing Post-Treatment Discomfort

For most patients, sensitivity from the FUE hair transplant can continue for up to 72 hours after the treatment, although at a much lower level. AHI Clinic ensures they provide all patients with in-depth advice about the entire treatment process, including any aftercare. 

We recognise that everyone has their own level of tolerance to pain and discomfort, which is why we treat each patient as an individual. When it comes to post-treatment discomfort, we may suggest using over-the-counter pain relief (such as paracetamol). We may also prescribe you with some anti-inflammatory medication and / or antibiotics, as well as some medication to help with post-operative swelling. 

Other advice we issue is to wait 2 days before washing your hair, use mild pH balanced shampoo, and avoid brushing your hair for around 3 weeks. Keeping activity levels low while the treated area is healing will also help to minimise pressure, and reduce post-treatment discomfort in the first 2 weeks. 

So, as you can see, AHI Clinic takes the well-being of their patients very seriously, and does all it can to make a hair transplant procedure as comfortable as possible.

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