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Does Smoking before and after Hair Transplant Surgery Affect Hair Growth?

5/26/2015 9:56:48 PM

Question:

I am into my fifth week of a 4000 graft follicular unit excision (formerly known as follicular unit extraction) (FUE) hair transplant. My healing was pretty fine: not much discomfort in recipient or donor area. Shock loss appeared in 2nd week which I think has subsided substantially now.

My query is: I'm a smoker and was unable to quit it pre or post procedure. Will it affect the yield? In my view, healing was not hampered much. Is there anyone who smoked and underwent successful hair restoration surgery?

Answer:

Smoking is known to present a risk to healing. One concern is that the nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow to the surgery sites. Reduced blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients needed to support healing and tissue growth. In the case of hair transplant surgery this may affect healing and eventual growth of the delicate grafts.

Notice that I said "may". Your experience may be different than the experience of another patient who smokes prior to and after surgical hair restoration. There have certainly been members of our hair loss forum in the past that have had excellent results despite continuing to smoke and have stated as much. Still, the risk to hair growth is real and should be considered.

Can exercise offset these risks? I don't know. Perhaps the use of Rogaine (minoxidil) which is a vasodilator (increases blood flow) can curtail the constricting effects of smoking. Again, I don't know.

The bottom line is that all hair transplant surgeons that I'm aware of advise patients to avoid smoking for a period before and after surgery in order to provide the delicate follicular unit grafts a better chance to heal and grow. The choice to heed or ignore this advice is up to the individual.

I do hope your hair transplant meets your expectations and you experience no complications. Best of luck!

David
Editorial Assistant and Forum Co-Moderator

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