Preparing for your Hair Transplant Surgery

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Vancouver Travel Guide | 0 comments

A guide for UK patients traveling for a hair transplant at Hasson & Wong.

 

Index

  1. Day of Surgery
  2. Sleeping Post Op
  3. Washing Your Hair
  4. Numbness/Pain After Surgery
  5. Swelling
  6. Alcohol
  7. Donor Tightness
  8. Headgear
  9. Flying Home

1. Day Of Surgery

Hasson & Wong Reception

Hasson & Wong Reception

If you do decide to walk and it will take you around 35 minutes from the Sheraton then the address is 1001 West Broadway on the corner of Oak Street. You can cross the Granville Street Bridge and turn left or cross the Cambie Street Bridge and turn right, or if you like to mix things up a little get the Skytrain to Broadway-City Hall and turn left along Broadway it is a 10 minute walk. My advice would be to take a taxi, it will be around $10 from the Sheraton to the clinic and remember it is 1001 West Broadway on the corner of Oak Street. The roads out there are long and the number or adjoining road is important.

Surgery day- So remember you surgery will start early maybe 6.15am, 7.30 or 11am depending on the size of your hair transplant session so please arrive on time. Remember to eat a good breakfast, avoid any caffeine and wear a button up shirt. You will have to fill out the 4-5 pages of paperwork before going to the surgery room. You will have you blood pressure and pulse taken and given the antibiotics and valium.

The Doctor will then take some pre op photos if they haven’t already been done and he will shave the recipient area short enough so he can see the direction and angle that the native hair exits the scalp and can place the new transplanted hairs in between. In short without going into too much detail here my blog on my latest surgery will do that if you are interested. The day will consist of

Custom Cut Blades

Custom Cut Blades

Donor strip removal– The worst part in my experience and that many have commented on was the donor injections to numb the area, thankfully they are over in a few minutes and then you will feel no pain in this area. The strip removal can take around 1 hour possibly more or less depending on the size of the procedure. It is carefully removed by the Doctor piece by piece and the width of the strip will depend on the laxity, as laxity is not consistent around the scalp the width of this strip will vary accordingly. Once the strip has been carefully removed and closed with surgical staples you are free to sit up in the chair as you will have been face down for a while.

Recipient incision sites made – After the same injections to the forehead to numb the nerves in the recipient area, the Doctor can then start to make the recipient site incisions. These are made using a flat blade which would have been custom cut to the size of your follicles. Once the donor strip is removed the technicians sliver into the follicular units and trim the excess tissue around the grafts, these follicular units are then measured and using the custom cut blade cutter the blade is cut to size. The Doctor then makes the incisions in the recipient area with a member of staff counting the number made with a clicker.

Lunch and refreshments– You will be provided with lunch as well plenty of drinks during the course of the day, if you would like something just ask.

Placing of grafts– The technicians who will have been cutting and trimming the grafts under microscope whilst the incisions are being made are now ready to implant the grafts into the incisions. Whilst this is happening the grafts are stored cold in a petrie dish with plenty of saline to keep them hydrated. The placing of the grafts is a very time consuming part of the surgery and involves two technicians placing the grafts at either side of your head whilst you are sat upright. At this time you will be asked whether you would like to watch one of the many films that are available to pass the time or enjoy the view from the window to Downtown Vancouver.

Staff Trimming Grafts

Staff Trimming Grafts

More recipient sites made– Once the majority of the grafts have been placed and the final number of grafts available is known the Doctor will come back to make more incisions these will either to give more coverage or density back into areas.

Final placing of grafts- After the new sites are made the technicians will place these grafts under the final ones have been placed. The recipient area will be carefully washed and cleaned using a saline spray.

Post op photos– If required or you would like post op photos can be taken.

Hairs waiting to be placed

Hairs waiting to be placed

The surgery will last between 5-12 hours depending on the size of your session but make sure you plan to be there all day. You will be provided with a goodie bag containing an inflatable neck pillow this is for sleeping for the first 2-3 nights, it will help support your neck and keep your recipient area off the pillow, it is also handy for the flight home. A pillow cover to save your hotel pillow from any seeping from the donor area for the first night or 2. This will happen especially the first night so don’t be alarmed when it does. Low medicated shampoo, staple remover tool and some antibiotics for 5 days and pain killers for the first couple of days and 2 sleeping tablets. A clean baseball cap, if you bring your own it needs to be clean so wash it or bring a new one with you. The baseball cap needs to be worn loose for the first few days and the rim or hat must not be placed on or rubbing the grafts. You are set to go.

Take a taxi back to your hotel so bring some money for this it will be around $10 each way from downtown.

Sleeping-

For the first 3 nights you should sleep upright as much as you can by supporting yourself with pillows behind your back and using the neck pillow. It is fine to lay your donor area on the pillow but keep your recipient area off the pillow. Sleeping is awkward for the first few nights so do use the sleeping tablet provided and the pain killers. Do expect some blood to be on the pillow in the first night maybe a little on night two also. The donor area is still a little numb for the first few nights so the pain is not too bad. The donor area will feel numb as will the recipient area and your forehead in places. Sleeping upright will also help with the swelling, swelling is the saline that was used during surgery that will drop down to your forehead and possibly bridge of your nose and eyes. It generally is worse the larger the surgery and more hairline work that you have. I have difficulty sleeping at the best of times so the sleeping tablets worked for me, if you are having trouble sleeping you should mention it on your return to the clinic. After 3 days you can lie on your side normally or on your back, try to support yourself by propping up the pillows as lying down onto the staples will be uncomfortable once the donor area feeling starts to return a bit.

Washing your hair

If you can return to the clinic the day after surgery and I would recommend this as one of the girls will be able to wash your hair for you. If not you should be very careful for the first 5 days post op for the recipient area. I stood in the shower and filled a cup with lukewarm water applied the shampoo very gently and just poured the water over the recipient area and donor, just rinsing the recipient area but using my hands to rub the donor area. This method should be used for the first 5-7 days, do keep the donor area as clean and clear from scabs and crusting as possible, most people are too careful in with the donor. It will feel a little painful in places and tender along the scar line, there may be an area that is very painful to touch for the first few days as this may be due to a staple touching a nerve. If you do return to the clinic mention this and perhaps the offending one staple might be able to come out. I had this and it was a big relief to get it out.

After 7 days you can start to shower and put your recipient area under the shower pressure as normal. Using the fingertips apply usual pressure that you would when washing your hair it will feel a little sore but you must start to get those scabs and crusts away from this area. Do NOT pick at the scabs and if they are not coming away after several minutes of soaking then leave them for the next day. I would advise in the first 2 weeks to wash your hair every day. Pat the recipient area dry with a clean towel. After day 7 you can soak your head under the shower of submerge your head in the bath water to give it a real soaking and you should be aiming to get those scabs off day 10. Apply a little more pressure each day in both areas but do not pick they will come off it you soak them long enough. Aim to have all scabs away around day 10, you will have a flaking dry scalp for several days after this. You will notice some of the newly transplanted hairs will come away with these scabs these can sometimes have what looks like no bulb and just a short piece of hair and some might have the bulb attached. I noticed that the bulb in some cases appeared to be black and sometimes can look crooked and bent.

Numbness/ Pain after surgery-

Recipient area

My forehead was numb the night of the surgery and feeling came back the following day it was a little painful due to the injections for a day or two. The grafted area felt numb for a few days but feeling came back here quickly and after day 4-5 it seemed pretty much back to normal. Of course do not touch you recipient certainly for the first few days and as little as possible for the first week, if you do make sure your hands are clean.

Donor area

The back of your head will be totally numb for several days, feeling will return to the area under the scar around this time possibly earlier. The scar will be very tender to touch for the first few days and will become less tender during the first 2 weeks with the staples in, although do expect it to be sore. It will gradually become less tender and the difference once the staples are taken out will be noticeable but even after the staples are taken out expect it to feel tender to the touch when washing your hair. During the first few days expect some pain and twinges in the donor area and you have pain killers for this very reason, don’t be tough and suffer if you are in discomfort.

The area above the scar will remain numb for several months this extends to the back of your head, it is a weird sensation but is perfectly normal. You may experience itching although I never have but you do get twinges and the odd mild stabbing sensation every now and again and some tingling as the nerves regenerate themselves. How long this area remains numb depends and some have reported normal feelings after a couple of months others have said it was numb in parts for up to a year. Gradually it will come back.

Swelling

This varies again from patient to patient but happens around day 3-5, in my experience it happened just as that and my forehead had some swelling on day 3 this dropped to extend to the bridge of my nose which look fat, it did not affect my eyes although they looked a little black but this was in part to my lack of sleep. By Day 6 it had disappeared. Some patients do have more severe swelling that extends to the eyes. I did notice a little swelling around the scar and some light bruising again this varies but will settle down in a few days.

Alcohol

Do not drink for 5 days after surgery as you are taking the antibiotics after that you can start but I would take it slow and restrict yourself to a glass or wine or a couple of beers for the first week. This will be a nice time to detox your body from the booze.

Donor Tightness.

Your neck area will feel tight for a while after surgery, this will vary depending on the tightness of the closure and what your laxity was like before the surgery which is a very good reason for doing the scalp exercises. You will find it a little tight to bend your head forward to look at  your toes certainly whilst the staples are in and you should avoid doing this as much as possible. After the staples come out the neck tightness goes but tilting your head forward might feel a little tight for a couple more weeks. Again this varies from patient to patient but it will come back to normal in a couple of weeks.

Headgear

So if you are in Vancouver a few days after surgery wearing a loose fitting baseball cap is no problem as around 40% of people there wear one, you could wear a bandana or other style of hat and I would suggest that getting a couple of new hats before the surgery just make sure you don’t have it rubbing over the recipient area as I have known patients loose grafts as they stuck to the hat!

Flying home

If you are a few days post op then wear your hat on the flight you will not be the only one so don’t worry. Use the next support pillow, you may be asked at customs or going through security to remove your hat, it happens  and happened to me, make no big deal of it and just do it they won’t ask any more questions. Most patients don’t have to worry about this.

Hasson & Wong Waiting Area

Hasson & Wong Waiting Area

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