Post-Transplant: Hair Transplant Scars Explained

Published 10 January 2019

The ultimate goal of a hair transplant is to give a patient a head of natural-looking hair. Hair transplant scars, therefore, would severely spoil the effect. Yet hair transplants are still surgical procedures. Doctors either cut strips of your scalp and rearrange it in a way that gives you the illusion of a thicker head of hair, or restructure your hair by uprooting hundreds of follicles–piece by piece. Like any invasive surgical procedure, hair transplants come with scars. There are no “ifs” about it. Clinics and surgeons claiming to perform “scar-free” hair transplants are not reputable and one should be very wary of their claims.

The only component that surgeons and patients can control is the severity of scarring. Some individuals scar worse than others. That probability is increased in individuals who are prone to scar formation, or have a history of keloid scars.

Anyone considering a hair transplant should understand the risks associated with the procedure before going under the scalpel. Below are answers to questions that will help prospective patients weigh pros and cons before getting a transplant.

Why does scarring occur?

There will always be scarring after a hair transplant procedure, even with the most advanced team at your scalp. Scarring is your body’s way of trying to heal yourself, so developing them is completely normal. The type of scarring depends on the type of hair transplant you received. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) involves removing a thin strip from the scalp (called a donor strip) generally from the back of the head, from which hair grafts are taken and moved into the recipient area. Meanwhile, direct removal and insertion of each follicle one by one is how Follicular Hair Extractions (FUE) are performed.

Will FUE and FUT scars look different? 

Hair transplants through the FUE method are less likely to have significant or noticeable scars, because doctors only make small incisions, using an instrument called an FUE punch, to remove and insert hair follicles. The incisions can range from less a millimetre to just above a millimetre in diameter, and heal within days. Patients particularly concerned about scarring should ask their doctors to use the smallest extraction tool available to reduce scar sizes. The FUT method typically leaves behind a long, thin scar at the back of the head. The scar is more noticeable than the tiny wounds from FUE, but tend to fade over time, and are easily hidden by any hairstyle longer than a shaved head. 

How long until the wounds are fully healed?

Healing time can vary from patient to patient, but the general average healing time is from 10 days to 2 weeks. FUE transplants are faster to heal because of its less invasive nature. Wounds from FUE can start healing and scab over in as fast as 10 days. Patients who opt to get FUT still have to be careful around the site of the wound for the first couple of weeks.

Can scars be removed?

Scars can only be lessened, but not removed entirely. Doctors can perform scalp scar revision techniques such as scalp micropigmentation (SMP) to darken the skin around the scar, reducing contrast. Patients can also opt to try to have the scar excised by an experienced surgeon, but should not expect all traces of the transplant scar to be undetectable with a shaved head. 

Well-trained doctors can also perform new techniques specifically aimed to reduce the appearance of scars. For instance, the trichophytic closure is a method of closing the wound that minimizes the visibility of scars, and is a popular method in FUT scar repair. Hair follicles are inserted along the line of the wound to encourage hair growth through the scar, helping conceal it. Done correctly, patients can cut their hair short without people noticing the scar from where the donor strip was taken.

What else can I do to reduce scars?

Although scarring may be unavoidable for some, hair surgeons are trained to minimize scars, and know how to incise skin in a way that will only leave discreet marks that will give away your hair as anything but natural. Patients can also do their part in reducing scarring. Scars may be unavoidable, but you can reduce the severity of a scar by helping the wound heal properly during the recovery phase. Some doctors recommend Vitamin E oil after stitches are taken out to facilitate the healing process.

Giving men and women back their crowns–one follicle at a time

More people are taking hair loss more seriously. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, there were nearly 2 million hair transplant patients in 2016, a 64% growth since 2014. Amidst the rising popularity of hair transplant procedures, potential patients need to closely understand the risks and repercussions associated with the procedure, and manage expectations accordingly. 

Scarring is an inevitable part of the surgery, whether you choose FUT or FUE. Yet patients should also keep in mind that the hair loss industry is constantly developing techniques, such as the trichophytic closure, to improve results and increase patient satisfaction. The industry moves closer to ever smaller and smaller scars in the hopes of maybe one day eliminating them entirely.

But today, medical professionals are tackling the issue of scarring with a combination of skill and expertise. Patients keen to avoid severe scarring should only go to reputable clinics with legitimate practitioners. Most would hesitate due to hair transplant surgery’s reputation as an expensive procedure. Patients should look for clinics that are transparent about hair transplant prices to avoid being overcharged. 

At Medihair Transplant Clinic, we only work with certified and trained medical professionals. Our Surgeons Dr Andrew Kim and Dr Mario Marzola, are the ones best to advise you on the most suitable procedure for you.

Still have doubts about hair transplant scars? We would be happy to put them at ease and answer any questions you might have.

Just give us a call on 1300 355 325 to book your free no-obligation consultation. Let’s put your mind at ease. Medihair Hair Transplant Clinic. Best hair transplant in Melbourne