Undergoing hair transplant surgery is a serious investment of time and money, and you want to do everything in your power to maximize the effectiveness of the procedure.
You’ve probably heard that you’ll want to avoid intense exercise, swimming, sex, and other strenuous activity when recovering from a hair transplant, but what about the sun? It may seem smart to avoid excess exposure to the sun as you let your head heal, but should you completely stay in the shade? What about wearing a hat?
These are all legitimate questions that we will get into right now!
How the Sun Can Hurt Your Progress
To determine how sun exposure affects hair transplant recovery, first recognize that the process of grafting hair is no small feat.
Even advanced methods such as Follicular Unit Excision require attentive aftercare. Tiny incisions are made in the scalp and the hairs are placed with surgical precision in the desired area. This causes distress to the system and recovery takes a while. In addition, you now have hundreds or thousands of follicles that have been moved to the recipient area, and these need to be treated with the utmost care.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can be healthy in small doses, but only for skin that is already fully healed and ready to take on some additional stress. While those small cuts in your head are healing from surgery and follicles are becoming entrenched in their new homes, UV rays are only going to slow healing and cause problems.
Even a small amount of exposure to the sun can cause the affected area to become inflamed, leading to scratching and irritation that could ruin your progress altogether.
You may lose a bit of that summer tan or have to put that beach vacation on pause, but reducing sun exposure is a non-negotiable part of the aftercare protocol. Overexposure to the sun in the healing phase can also lead to discoloration of the newly grafted hair or the scalp itself.
From a visual standpoint, you want your hair and head to look completely natural, and staying out of the sun is one of the key factors to achieve this.
The Best Way to Stay Protected
Knowing that too much sun can roll back the clock on your results, you want to keep those valuable new follicles from getting baked by UV rays!
We always recommend wearing a loose-fitting hat or a light headscarf if you have to navigate a sunny area. No tight baseball caps or snug winter caps.
You want the recipient area to be able to “breathe” and allow fresh air to circulate in a way that promotes healthy and even recovery. Too much restriction on the scalp can limit blood flow and block the body’s natural ability to heal.
Whenever possible, stick to the shade. You won’t have to wear a covering and the transplant area can more easily heal on its own.
If you do choose to apply sunscreen to the scalp during aftercare, make sure it is a relatively light and absorbent product, rather than a thick mineral lotion. When applying the sunscreen, also make sure to proceed with caution and to not disrupt the grafts in any way. A light spray sunscreen may be a better way to go in this situation.
Depending on what other medications you may be prescribed, the sun may be off-limits completely, so be prepared to communicate your full medical needs to your doctor.
The best surgeons will have a full understanding of how various meds interact with the healing process, and will give you direct guidance on how to move forward.
When is Sun Exposure OK Again?
Now we know the basics about how sunlight can impact the success of your hair transplant, and you have some key coverage techniques to make sure you don’t sizzle in the sun.
The question remains: how long do you need to stay in the shade?
15 days is the bare minimum recommended for hair transplant patients to avoid direct sunlight. Other surgeons suggest that a three-week timeframe is a safer bet, especially for those with fair complexions or in the case of more delicate surgeries.
Yes, we know, it seems like a big sacrifice to remain in the shade for that long, but as we stated earlier, it is a crucial component of maximizing your hair transplant success.
These procedures can be pricey and painful, so you want to make the most of your investment and stick to the protocol laid out by your medical professionals.
Remember, if you have questions or concerns about sun exposure following a transplant, never hesitate to get in touch with your doctors and get your information straight from the source.
Sweat Isn’t Ideal Either
Living life in the shade may seem like an easy alternative to sunbathing and outdoor adventures, but you also need to be aware of how you sweat, indoors and out.
It seems counterintuitive because we’ve been told by every public service announcement to be more active, but too much sweat and strain can be detrimental to recovering from a hair transplant in the early recovery stage. In the context of hair transplant aftercare, the sweat itself isn’t that big of an issue, it is the unwanted accumulation of moisture and the crystallization of salts on your scalp.
Sweat is the body’s way of staying cool. It’s perfectly natural, but you do not want to skip the shower after the gym during the post-op stage (though you should be avoiding strenuous exercise in the first place!).
When bacteria and salts build up in your hair, your natural instinct is to get scratching! As you already know, this is one of the most harmful things that can be done to your grafts. Many unfortunate patients have indulged in too much scratching during the post-op period, and have ended up back in surgery a few months later due to disrupted follicles.
In the weeks following your procedure, you want to minimize the buildup of unwanted sweat, keep the area clean at all times, and eliminate the urge to itch–this will help keep infection at bay.
Ask your doctor if they can recommend any specific healing shampoos, moisturizers, or other hypoallergenic products that can help you navigate this tricky stage more easily.
Just be sure to clean your scalp gently. No heavy scrubbing or rubbing, no excessive hot water, just a light, quick wash is necessary to get clean and go about your day.
The more you understand the science behind the hair transplant process and how the body recovers, the smarter your aftercare protocol will be, and the better your overall results!
Being extra cautious about sun exposure following surgery is just one way you can ensure optimal outcomes for your transplant to avoid future problems. Keep in mind how to combat sweat and bacteria buildup with the right techniques, and be prepared to combat minor burns if you find yourself exposed to sunlight for too long.
With the right knowledge and a few tools at your disposal, you’ll be set for success!
Make sure you visit the Daily Journal of Hair Loss Information on our website to stay up to date on the most important industry trends and info! Good luck!