EXPERT GUIDE

How to reduce swelling after a hair transplant


Dr. Karen Owen

This text was written according to the highest scientific standards and reviewed by medical experts. Find out more about our quality assurance.

Written by Matilda H. Updated on 17 Oct 2023

Hair transplant procedures are known to be painless and convenient. However, you may notice some uncomfortable symptoms like redness and swelling after your surgery. While these effects typically disappear over time, they can be alarming for some patients. Learn more about the causes of swelling, its different types, and how you can reduce it.

What are the causes of swelling after a hair transplant?

Swelling is the result of fluid build-up around the tissues and cells in the body. During hair transplants, surgeons use a local anesthetic to numb the scalp so the surgery can be painless. The anesthetic might drain towards your forehead or face, causing swelling in those areas. 

 

Most common complaints after a hair transplant

 

Another cause of swelling is inflammation which is caused by dilated blood vessels. This is your body’s natural reaction to fight infections and heal after experiencing an injury. This is not a cause for concern as the puffiness goes away on its own when your skin starts healing. 

The severity of swelling also depends upon other factors such as skin elasticity, the age of the patient, and the length of the procedure.

Grades of swelling

ou may notice swelling two to three days after your hair transplant procedure and it may last around three to four days. Most patients report swelling around the forehead and eyelids. However, the severity of swelling differs from patient to patient.

While some people experience barely noticeable swelling, others might have very obvious and severe effects. According to one research, post-transplant swelling can be divided into five grades:

Grade of Swelling Symptoms
Grade 0 No swelling
Grade I Swelling on the upper forehead
Grade II Swelling on both the upper and lower forehead
Grade III Swelling around the eyes and cheeks (periorbital oedema)
Grade IV Black eyes, difficulty opening eyes

In the majority of cases, the swelling eventually disappears on its own. However, it is best to consult your doctor if you experience severe effects that are slowing down your recovery process.

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How common is a hair transplant swelling?

It is very common to experience swelling after most surgical procedures and hair transplants are no different. 

Hair transplantation, whether it is FUE or FUT, causes some degree of swelling in most patients. According to a study, 55% of hair transplant patients experienced swelling after the surgery and the other 45% avoided swelling with the help of steroid medication. 

This means that preventative measures and a solid after-care plan can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Without those, you may run the risk of developing mild to severe swelling.

How to prevent swelling after a hair transplant?

There are many ways to reduce and prevent swelling after a hair transplant, such as:

  • Steroids: Your hair surgeon may prescribe steroids like Prednisolone, Methylprednisolone, and Triamcinolone before, during, or after the surgery to control swelling. These steroids can be taken orally before and after the procedure or injected with the local anesthetic. 
  • Using a headband or tape around the forehead — can stop fluid from draining into the tissues surrounding your eyelids and face. 
  • Icing with a cold compress or frozen peas — reduces inflammation by narrowing dilated blood vessels. 
  • Sleeping in an elevated position — drains away excess fluid to bring down the swelling. 

While the other methods may improve the symptoms of swelling, they are not as effective as steroids.

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4 tips to reduce swelling after a hair transplant

How easily and conveniently you recover after a hair transplant relies heavily on the post-surgery consultations you attend and how well you follow your doctor’s advice. This is also when your doctor will prescribe medication and recommend measures for a seamless recovery process. 

Here are some of the most helpful tips given by hair surgeons after a transplant:

  • Do not skip your medication — your doctor will prescribe medication to reduce pain and swelling after the transplant, follow their advice.
  • Do not take ibuprofen — only use medication as directed by your doctor. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can make the swelling worse. To manage pain, you can take paracetamol instead.
  • Stay hydrated during and after surgery — inflammation can worsen due to dehydration so drinks lots of water during and after the hair transplant.
  • Sleep in a reclined position — sleeping at a 45-degree angle ensures the safety of the grafts and promotes fluid drainage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of swelling after a hair transplant?

Can I take an anti-inflammatory after a hair transplant?

Sources

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