Courtesy of International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery
You may think of surgical hair restoration as minor surgery compared to major procedures such a hip replacement and organ transplantation. While those and other major surgical procedures are long, complex operations, hair restoration surgery is not major surgery and has proven to be very safe. As with all surgical procedures, the more risk factors a patient has, the greater the possibility for postoperative complications.
Risk factors are factors that increase a patient’s risk for harm. Some risk factors are associated with the surgical procedure. Patient risk factors are those associated with the patient. Patient risk factors important in surgical hair restoration are those that increase risk for postoperative infection, excessive bleeding, and delayed healing.
The hair restoration surgeon will determine risk factors based on the information given by the patient prior to any surgical procedure. Some important patient risk factors the physician will want to know about include:
- tobacco use, especially long-term cigarette smoking
- alcohol abuse or heavy drinking
- malnutrition, including bulimia and anorexia
- use of immunosuppressive drugs, including corticosteroids and chemotherapy
- use of herbal supplements
- immunosuppressive disease—e.g., HIV-AIDS
- diabetes or other chronic metabolic disease
- chronic disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs or gastrointestinal system
- chronic or recurrent skin infections such as boils
- chronic or recurrent bacterial or viral infections
- medications that decrease the ability of the blood to clot, such as anti-inflammatory drugs
- conditions that require antibiotics prohylaxis, such as artificial joints or valves
A prospective candidate for surgical hair restoration should answer questions about risk factors as fully as possible. For the patient’s own safety it is essential for the physician to know in advance if there are risk factors that increase the possibility for postoperative complications—even if risk factors such as tobacco or alcohol use are somewhat embarrassing for the patient to discuss. The presence of risk factors will rarely deny a hair restoration procedure to the patient, but the physician will be aware of the possibility of complications associated with the risk factors.