Driving is a central part of our freedom. We use our vehicles to get to work, shop at the store, visit loved ones, and adventure out into nature. So, it’s understandable why folks want to know if they are able to operate their cars safely following a hair transplant, and if there are any risks involved if they do choose to drive.
The truth about this issue isn’t cut and dry. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding to drive on the day of the surgery, and in the weeklong period when recovery is crucial.
We’re here to lay out the facts about driving post-transplant and offer some insider tips on how to make your recovery stage as comfortable and successful as possible.
The Day of the Surgery
Most of the driving-related questions we get are centered on the day of the transplant itself.
The concerns generally stem from the perception that patients undergo some degree of sedation to comfortably get through the surgery.
The truth is that a very small percentage of hair transplant patients require anything more serious than a local anesthetic to numb the donor and recipient areas of the head.
The local anesthetic used by hair restoration surgeons is no different from the basic anesthetic medication seen in dentist offices all over the world.
It is a rarity in the industry for doctors to use heavier anesthetics to put their patients “to sleep” when performing a hair transplant. The common practice is to use a numbing agent called lidocaine, which is administered with a quick prick of a needle.
Occasionally, patients will request that they “go under” for their hair transplant procedures, but most leading surgeons recommend against this route. This is because heavier drugs require the presence of a qualified anesthesiologist, who not only adds a layer of complexity to the procedure, but also racks up extra risk and cost.
The truth is that this is not “open surgery” requiring that a patient be knocked out. It is far more preferable for both the patient and doctor to stick with lidocaine and remain conscious.
Most patients report that there is very little discomfort involved in the entire process and that the bigger challenge is sitting still through the lengthy experience. Hair transplants can last anywhere between 4 and 10 hours, and sometimes require multiple sessions.
With all that said, it is the best practice after any surgery to have arrange for transportation with loved ones to be picked up from the clinic for a matter of emotional support, and to help stay relaxed when the procedure is complete.
This becomes critical when anti-anxiety medications come into play. The facts are clear about the class of drugs known as anxiolytics. You do not want to put your life, or the lives of others, at risk by operating any machinery, especially your car, if you’re feeling drowsy from this class of medications.
That’s the truth, and there’s no debate.
But, given the anxiety-inducing conditions surrounding hair transplant surgery, we understand why some patients will want to take this type of medication the morning of a procedure. If you are someone in this group, we urge you to organize drop-off and pickup with a loved one or rideshare service to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.
This should go without saying, but it never hurts to reiterate the facts.
While the use of anxiety meds is permissible on the day of the surgery, we do not recommend using prescription painkillers in the recovery period, without consulting with your hair restoration surgeon.
Simple rest and relaxation is enough to get most patients through the uncomfortable days following the surgery, and ibuprofen is generally all you need.
If you are curious about what clients have said about the process first-hand, check out some of the great testimonials on our site.
The Initial Recovery Stage
Although there aren’t any medical restrictions that keep clients from driving during the first few days of hair transplant recovery, we recommend that most folks lay low regardless. This first stage of post-op aftercare can be uncomfortable, and it is vitally important that the affected area of the scalp is kept clean and secure.
We suggest that patients secure all the necessary food, medication, and other comforts that will help them get through the first days of recovery and that they only leave the house if truly necessary.
In the ideal scenario, a client will minimize movement and just relax at home, either on the couch or in an elevated position in bed.
Regardless of the scope of their procedure, clients should arrange to take time away from work, and minimize the stress and strain of daily life if possible. While driving does not guarantee a disrupted recovery process, it does raise the likelihood that something will happen outside the control of the patient and cause a problem. Give yourself three days at home if you can.
On the road, natural elements can come into play, tempers can rise, and accidents can happen. It is almost always better for a client to just recover quietly at home and reduce every vector of risk. Call on the goodwill of family and friends if possible!
If you have the ability to outsource services like food delivery or rideshares around town, that is another optimal course of action for the first few days of post-op recovery.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
Regardless of whether you choose to get behind the wheel or stick to the couch after a hair transplant is ultimately your choice.
If you are comfortable in the car and don’t find it to be a stressful experience, then by all means, enjoy the freedom and don’t let us tell you otherwise. But, if your city is constantly jam-packed with honking cars and road-ragers galore, you may be wise to take it easy for that first week.
This ties into a more general point about hair transplant recovery at large: keep stress low!
Our doctors will tell you upfront that too much strenuous activity can be bad news when recovering. Take this time to enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation, and allow your body’s natural healing abilities to integrate the new hair on your head.
Stress of any kind can have a negative impact on the recovery and immune systems, which need to be fully operational at this time. Stick to healthy meals, plenty of hydration, and a controlled temperature environment where you can minimize uncertainty and let your body heal. Fast food may be tempting, but stick to the salmon and greens!
For the large majority of hair transplant clients, driving is discouraged thethe day of the procedure.
We encourage you to take our advice and stay off the road for at least the day of the procedure into the next day, as you let yourself heal inside and out. It may seem inconvenient, but the results will be 100% worth it!
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