A hair transplant can be a life-changing procedure, but it’s also a significant investment that must be protected. As with any major treatment, certain aftercare steps should be followed. If you’ve recently undergone a hair transplant procedure, scalp protection from the sun is absolutely critical.
Why Avoid the Sun After a Hair Transplant?
If you’ve undergone an FUT or FUE hair transplant, you should limit sun exposure for at least the first 12 weeks following the procedure. While a few minutes per day of direct sun exposure is unlikely to cause direct harm, extended exposure can be a problem.
Direct exposure to UV light can degrade hair protein. UVA light is associated with changes in hair color while UVB light is associated with hair protein loss. During the initial weeks after a hair transplant, sun exposure can be especially damaging, as hair is more vulnerable to the effects of free radicals and photochemical degradation.
How the Skin Is Affected by the Sun After a Hair Transplant
Scalp protection from the sun isn’t just about protecting the hair. The bigger priority is guarding the sensitive skin beneath. Whether you’ve undergone an FUE or FUT hair transplant, the process involves making tiny incisions in the scalp to extract follicular units of hair. And while these incisions are minimally invasive, they still require time to heal post-surgery.
In the initial days and weeks following the procedure, you’ll likely experience mild to moderate soreness and sensitivity. Your plastic surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to reduce infection risk as well as anti-inflammatory medications to minimize swelling. You want to avoid any type of exposure that can further irritate your skin or complicate the healing process—and that includes sun exposure.
Following a hair transplant, sun exposure can irritate the sensitive skin on the scalp, lead to itching, contribute to sunburn, and potentially undermine the results of the procedure. Skin is especially sensitive to light—and especially to UV radiation from the sun—in the weeks after an incision. Excess sun exposure might not only compromise the procedure but may also lead to scarring in some cases. That’s why scalp protection from the sun is so important.
Will I Always Need Scalp Protection From the Sun?
After your hair transplant, sun exposure will always be a mild concern—but you won’t always have to avoid the sun. The initial weeks are the most critical. A hair transplant procedure affects multiple layers of skin—not just the external dermis layer. The deeper underlying tissue can require several weeks to fully heal, and if it is compromised before that, the hair transplant may fail. That’s why we recommend extra caution in the initial weeks.
After the incisions have healed, you can start wearing hats and sunscreen (preferably SPF-30 or higher) to protect your hair and scalp for a few additional weeks. Once the healing is done and the transplant is a success, you can go about your life as normal—following just the basics of common-sense sun protection.
Other Aftercare Essentials for Hair Transplant Patients
Minimizing sun exposure is just one important step for ensuring a successful hair transplant and a smooth healing process. There are additional steps you’ll also want to take as well:
- Don’t wash your hair in the initial weeks following your hair transplant.
- When you do start washing your hair again, use only a mild shampoo at first.
- Wait at least a week before returning to your exercise routine.
- Avoid wearing hats and pullover shirts until you get the okay from your doctor.
- Don’t comb or brush the new hair grafts for at least 3 weeks following the procedure.
You may notice that some of the new hairs fall out in the first few weeks. This is a normal aspect of the procedure, and it’s generally nothing to worry about.
When to Consult Your Cosmetic Surgeon
If you’ve already spent a little too much time in the sun after your hair transplant, don’t panic. In most cases, it likely won’t cause significant issues. However, you should contact your cosmetic surgeon right away if you notice any problematic side effects such as:
- Persistent scalp irritation or itching
- Swelling of the scalp
- Crusting or draining near the incision sites
- Bleeding or inflammation of the scalp
Some of these side effects are normal after a hair transplant procedure and will subside on their own in a few days. However, if these side effects persist following prolonged sun exposure, or if any of the side effects exceed mild discomfort, you should contact your plastic surgeon for a closer examination.
Prioritize Scalp Protection From the Sun
A hair transplant is a delicate procedure. That’s why it’s so important to work with a skilled plastic surgeon and rigorously follow all aftercare recommendations. It’s also helpful to ensure that your cosmetic surgeon uses the most sophisticated, advanced hair transplant technologies like the ARTAS hair transplant system.
Sure, you might have to skip the beach and the amusement parks for a few weeks, but the initial sacrifices are worth it in the end. When treatment is successful, it could mean a lifetime of better hair and restored confidence.
Would you like to learn more about the benefits of a hair transplant? Check out our hair transplant before-and-after photos, and contact us today to learn more about hair transplant services at Salameh Plastic Surgery & MedSpa in Kentucky and Indiana.