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Old 02-26-2009, 02:36 PM   #1
J_B_Davis
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Default Sun Exposure after Hair Transplant

I am trying to schedule a hair transplant during my vacation time toward the end of the year and I was wondering how long after the hair transplant do I have to wait to go out in the sun without my head being covered? Would it be more than two weeks?

Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:01 PM   #2
SpencerKobren
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Originally Posted by J_B_Davis View Post
I am trying to schedule a hair transplant during my vacation time toward the end of the year and I was wondering how long after the hair transplant do I have to wait to go out in the sun without my head being covered? Would it be more than two weeks?

Thanks.
Hey JB,

I wouldn’t suggest getting any direct sunlight on the recipient area for at least four to six months after a hair transplant procedure. If it were me, I would avoid getting any sun on my scalp until the transplant reached full maturity.

Some complain of scalp hypersensitivity to the sun for many months after their hair transplant. I have been in contact with a couple guys who believe that they caused permanent discoloration of their scalps because they exposed their heads to direct sunlight too soon after their procedure.

I don't think getting a sun tan is worth risking the financial or emotional investment it takes to undergo surgical hair restoration.

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:04 PM   #3
Dr. Feller
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I usually tell my patients to avoid direct sunlight for a minimum of 4 months. There are a few very good reasons for this:

1. The first is that ANYTIME the skin is cut it may become more sensitive to light, particularly ultraviolet.

2. The second is that while the native skin around the transplant is capable of protecting itself from over-exposure to sunlight in the first few months after surgery, the newly implanted transplants are NOT.

I had a patient who received a sunburn within a month after his transplant. He visited the office because of the swelling and asked me to treat it. What I noticed was that while the skin around the transplants became VERY red, the sites where the grafts were implanted were totally WHITE. This meant that the skin could darken to somewhat protect itself, but the skin of the grafts had not regained this protective ability yet.

The skin contains chromatophores that will darken the skin when exposed to too much sun as a form of protection. However, these chromatophores either become inactive or die during transplantation and it takes time for them to either recover or regenerate within the grafts.

I treated this pateint with steroids successfully and he made a full recovery. Eight months later he visited for a follow up and experience thick growth as if nothing had happened. I wrote the case up and it was published in our industry journal around 1995.

In the end, the scalp is VERY resilient, but it is best NOT to test it. I can think of no vacation venue that takes place in the sun where a hat or bandana couldn't be worn to protect your new hair.
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_B_Davis View Post
I am trying to schedule a hair transplant during my vacation time toward the end of the year and I was wondering how long after the hair transplant do I have to wait to go out in the sun without my head being covered? Would it be more than two weeks?

Thanks.
JB,

Glad to see you received some helpful, practical replies. This question comes up quite a bit.

I just wanted to make a distinction. It's not that you can never expose your head to sunlight post-op, it's more how and the duration. I think it's a good idea to cover one's head if one decides to be in the direct sunlight for more than momentary, say five minutes or so. It's a good idea to cover your head whether you have HT surgery or not. That's why you hear the medical professionals state to never allow ANY skin to direct exposure to harmful UV rays without using adequate sun block products or in the case of the scalp, a hat.

Let's say it's a bright sunny day in July and you decide to step out your front door to get your mail at the end of the driveway (100 feet) and come right back. Do you need to cover your head? Not really IMHO. But let's say you are going to cut your grass which is obviously going to expose your scalp much longer. WEAR A HAT.

Dr. Feller, I have also heard that immdediate over-exposure to UV rays can prevent the transplanted follicles from establishing to their new blood supply and they can subsequently perish from this. Do you agree?
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:45 PM   #5
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I get this question several times a week. Probably because I live and practice medicine in Florida. In the past I have always told patients not to allow any direct sun exposure to the scalpt until they can look in the mirror and not see any redness or discoloration from the procedure. Any time you expose already abnormally pigmented skin to direct sunlight you taking a risk that permanant changes will occur. Meaning there is a chance that there could be some degree of permanant redness. However, after having a similar experience with a patient that Dr. Feller had I now suggest to patients that they wait an additional 1-2 months to insure that the pigment of the skin immediatly surrounding the newly grafted tissue will repond in a similar fashion to the adjacent tissue.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:58 PM   #6
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"Dr. Feller, I have also heard that immdediate over-exposure to UV rays can prevent the transplanted follicles from establishing to their new blood supply and they can subsequently perish from this. Do you agree?"

I've never heard that Gil.
I doubt it's true.

Dr. F
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:43 AM   #7
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Good informative post and very helpful.

Dr Feller you said that what you noticed was that while the skin around the transplants became VERY red, the sites where the grafts were implanted were totally WHITE. This meant that the skin could darken to somewhat protect itself, but the skin of the grafts had not regained this protective ability yet.

Could this be due to the skin where the grafts are placed is scar tissue however small and this tissue reacts differently to sun exposure.I may be totally wrong of course.

Thanks bm.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:51 PM   #8
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You should not get excessive sun on it until the hair grows. You don't have to bother for short intervals such as walking across the parking lot to your car but if you are going to sit out at a ball game or work in the yard or polish the car it must be protected. A serious sun burn may stop the new hair from growing. A suntan on the scalp may not look good. You won't be able to see the grafts but if you get a suntan there are tiny pieces of skin around the grafts which have never been exposed to sunlight, they sit in the skin on the to of your head which has probably had more sunlight than any other part of your body. When you get a suntan you will be able to see the grafts. the grafted area will take a mottled appearance. Later as time goes on the new skin will become used to the sunlight and this will not happen.

You can protect the grafted area in several ways. Of course you can wear a cap. Many people have hair that they can comb over the grafts to protect from the sun. Or you can use sunscreen. You should be putting sunscreen on your face; just continue it over your head if you don't want to wear a cap. For example, if you go to the beach and want to go in the water, put a heavy coating of waterproof sunscreen on your face and head.
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Old 03-04-2009, 03:25 PM   #9
J_B_Davis
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Default Thanks!

Thank you Dr. Feller, Dr. Charles, Gillenator, Dr. Straub and Spencer!

I appreciate all of you taking time to provide your thoughtful answers.
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Old 03-04-2009, 07:35 PM   #10
Dr. Feller
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You're welcome, JB.

Big Mac,
No. The white areas were not in the surrounding skin, they were confined solely to the grafts.

As the dermis of the graft and the dermis of the skin in the recipient area heal together chromataphores will either migrate to the transplanted tissue, or, new chromataphores will be generated.

I suspect the very tiny scar tissue created around true follicular units will also be invaded by chromataphores from the surrounding dermis and therefore change to red upon sun exposure like normal skin.
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