Written by Dr. Alan Feller and Dr. Blake Bloxham-Feller and Bloxham Medical, PC, Philadelphia, PA
You’ve done your research by looking for hair transplant clinics in your area (or a bit further away), checked out their websites to make sure they have at least 100 before/after photos, made sure they have been in business for at least 10 years, made sure they have one technician for every 450 FUT (Strip) grafts to be transplanted, checked out at least one online chat forum that the doctor personally participates on, had a consultation with the doctor who is going to actually perform the procedure, and had the opportunity to watch a procedure in the clinic. Now you picked your clinic, your procedure day is set, you’ve paid your deposit and think: “what should I do next ?”
The following is a general idea of what we have been telling our patients to do for the past quarter century with great results. (Of course, make sure to follow your own hair transplant doctor’s instructions. The following is not meant to act as a substitute for doctor’s specific advice to you as their patient.)
Get excited! You are finally doing something about your hair that actually works! Don’t think too much about the procedure itself. That’s what you pay the doctor for. Set your mind at ease KNOWING you made the right choice and that your doctor and his staff know what they’re doing. Don’t sweat medical/surgical details. You will be SAFE ! Hair Transplantation is a well established MINOR medical procedure. That’s why they are performed in-office. Don’t worry about the shots, the needles are very thin and usually only feels like a slight pinch that numbs very quickly. The scalp isn’t as sensitive as your mouth so don’t compare to your dental experience !
Starting two weeks before stop taking:
- Vitamins and supplements as they can thin your blood and make you bleed during the procedure.
- Aspirin/ NSAIDS (ie: Motrin, Alieve, etc…) These also thin blood considerably
- Tea and Protein shakes- These contain blood thinning properties
- Alcohol- Of all sorts. This includes wine, beer, hard cider, even wine coolers (if they still make those anymore)- Alcohol is a massive blood thinner.
- Stop dieting. That is not an invitation to over eat, but dieters tend to deprive themselves to the point of near undernourishment. Especially heavier people who are very motivated to lose weight. When your body is losing weight you are largely CATABOLIC. This is not ideal for healing after a procedure. We want your body in an ANABOLIC state. We want to “train” the body to know it is not starving and can allot it’s resources to the healing process after the procedure.
One week before:
Stop jogging, running, and weight lifting. The reason to stop running is that that the platelets, a component of the blood that allows for clotting, can be destroyed as they travel through the feet and get compressed by the hard impulse created by stepping down with force. The platelets are crushed and thus decrease the amount available overall to the body.
Especially remember still NO ALCOHOL and NO ASPIRIN/NSAIDS
If for some reason you have a headache or body ache simply take Tylenol. Tylenol does not cause thinning of the blood or excessive bleeding when taken as directed.
Three days before:
Try and get a few good night’s sleep. You will be excited and a bit nervous, that’s normal, but try to sleep and remember you will be SAFE. Your clinic has performed the procedure literally thousands of times. There is nothing to worry about! Focus on getting your hair back, NOT how your doctor and medical team do it. That’s their problem, that’s what you pay them for. Your job is to kick back and enjoy the ride and look forward positively to the new hair that is coming.
One day before:
Call your clinic and confirm you are ready for your procedure and ask if there are there any last instructions. If you normally take a medication, continue to take that medication unless your doctor specifically told you not to. For example, I tell all my patients to take their blood pressure medication and diabetes medication as they normally do.
Make sure you prepare the clothes you are going to wear to the procedure the night before. We recommend something comfortable and light. I wore some old jeans and old t-shirt for my procedures. Do not wear quality clothes. We use two kinds of antiseptic on the skin both of which will do a great job staining clothing for life. And this stuff pretty much gets everywhere. I remember a few patients came in wearing suits and I made them change into disposable gowns which they were grateful for at the end of the procedure when they saw the stains all over it.
Make sure you have a ride. You don’t strictly need a driver. For my first and second procedure I drove myself without a problem. But it is preferable. Since we only use a local anesthetic your ability to drive is not impaired, but you may be tired and thus could benefit from a ride if you can swing it. Lately, however, Uber seems to have been the solution for this issue for many patients.
Check your route to the clinic and allow for traffic. I can’t stress this enough. There will be a doctor and a team of technicians waiting specifically for you raring to get started. Being late and calling in while stuck in traffic saying it will be another forty minutes will not go over well. Traffic is predictable so simply leave earlier. If you have to cross a bridge you should stay in a local hotel. In my office I cancel procedures after one hour of tardiness because if I don’t the rest of my schedule is messed up. When I had my own procedures done by friends I was at their offices an hour and twenty minutes early. I would rather wait and be bored than fight traffic and be stressed. And your hair transplant day should be a positive and exciting one, not a stressing one.
Find a button down shirt you can wear after the procedure and get it ready to take with you to the clinic the next day. The reason is that the T-shirt you wear during the procedure will be cut off and thrown away. You don’t want to have to pull a shirt over your head because you may accidentally hit the grafts, so button down shirts eliminate this possibility. It may get stained so use an old one.
Take a few photos with your phone of your hair as you normally style it, but also in different styles and messed up. This will help you to remember what you really looked like 9 months after your procedure when your new hair has grown and you want to compare.
Eat a good dinner. No dieting ! Eat protein, carbohydrates and sugar. I had steak and potato for dinner before mine and ice cream afterward. It makes you feel good and gives your body all the components you need for handling the stress of the next day and the healing your body will do.
Take a shower and shampoo your hair well.
Get a good night sleep. Again DON’T WORRY, you are going to be safe and fine. Our clinic has performed literally thousands of procedures and we have NEVER had even a single medical complication. And think, by this time tomorrow the procedure will be over and you will have done it!
Morning Of Hair Transplant:
Get up early. Take another shower and shampoo your hair. Scrub your scalp good everywhere.
Eat breakfast. Most of the time when you are going to have a medical procedure you are told NOT to eat. However, hair transplantation is not most procedures. It’s one of the few exceptions where you SHOULD eat something. I recommend getting food into you at least one hour before you arrive at the clinic. Nothing heavy and greasy. Just a sensible breakfast. I had a bagel and orange juice before mine. The goal is to get your blood sugar up. When you are stressed your blood sugar tends to go down and you don’t feel quite right. The carbohydrate and sugar in your breakfast will make you feel better. I even recommend my patients take a gulp or two of orange juice just before the procedure to really peak their blood sugar.
Avoid caffeine because you will already be excited and a bit nervous. If you are a java junky and practically addicted to it, then you may want to have a cup of coffee. It’s up to you. It doesn’t affect the procedure itself nor does it thin the blood.
Leave early and plan to get to your clinic about an hour early. If you hit traffic then you have an hour buffer and less stress, if you don’t then you can sit in the car and relax and even take a nap.
When you go to the clinic you will know that you did everything that was expected of you and are starting the day off on the right foot. Follow your doctor’s instructions and enjoy your day. Yes, I said enjoy it.
A hair transplant is a positive experience. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not sick and you are not injured. You are having the procedure simply because you WANT it. You identified hair loss as a problem and now you are doing something about it. That’s what mature responsible people do when something bothers them. So be excited about your procedure and the choices you made and enjoy the benefits thereof. If you prepared properly and followed the instructions and advice of your clinic you’ll know it was all worth it when you look in the mirror 9 months hence and see living growing hair where there once was none.