Can a Hair Transplant Cause Cancer?

When you’re considering whether or not to have a hair transplant, you’ll more than likely have a ­thousand questions on your mind. How much will it hurt? How much will it cost? How do I know which surgeon to use? What will the recovery be like?

These are all very valid questions. We answer all of them and more in our informative hair transplant and restoration blog pages. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have, too.

But what about side effects? Does a hair transplant run the risk of any adverse reactions? What are the risks? Will I get an infection? How much scarring will I experience? Could a hair transplant cause me to experience a health condition? Could a hair transplant cause skin cancer, or any other cancer?

Hair Transplants and Cancer

The answer to this one is simple. No, a hair transplant cannot cause skin cancer or any other type of cancer. Cancer is usually caused by numerous factors, such as genetics, smoking, eating a bad diet or ingesting or inhaling known carcinogens such as asbestos.

A hair transplant involves taking hair follicles from one area of the scalp, usually the back of the head, and transplanting them into another part of the scalp, usually the top and the front. Therefore, it’s only your own skin cells and hair that are being transplanted back in. For this reason, it can’t cause cancer.

We hope that’s put your mind at rest.

But you may have other worries and concerns about what a hair transplant might result in, or cause. So here’s a round up of some of the side effects of a hair transplant.

What Are the Side Effects Associated with a Hair Transplant?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is a list of some of the things you might experience after a hair transplant, and what you can do about them. They can all occur in the donor area, recipient area, or both. You may experience some, you may experience none at all. But all can be rectified, and medical attention should be sought if you’re worried.

Scarring

Scarring is more common if you have the Follicular Unit Transfer, or FUT, method of hair transplantation, over the Follicular Unit Extraction, or FUE, method.

The FUT method is also known as the ‘strip harvest’ method and it’s easy to see why – it involves a surgeon removing a strip of skin, that could be as wide as 1 to 1.5 cm and the length of the back of your scalp from ear to ear. Follicles are then removed from this strip of skin under a microscope and transplanted back into the balding area of the scalp.

The FUE method involves using a small punch tool to remove individual follicular units which are then transplanted into the balding area.

It’s easy to see why the FUT leaves more scars than the FUE. FUT scars can be covered up with longer hair at the back of the head, but most surgeons nowadays perform the FUE that results in minimal scarring.

Infection

Having any medical procedure that punctures the skin always carries an infection risk. But it’s important to choose a hair restoration clinic that is trustworthy and clean.

It’s also important that you follow the advice given to you after your hair transplant regarding the correct aftercare.

If you notice any hotness, weeping or a strong smell in the days and weeks following a hair transplant, then it’s crucial that you seek medical advice. If you do have an infection, then antibiotics could be all you need. If you leave it, you run the risk of permanent scarring and an unsuccessful hair transplant.

Excessive Bleeding

Some bleeding is normal after a hair transplant, especially if you have the FUT method. However, bleeding lasting more than a few days or that soaks through pillows, hats or dressings is something to get checked out.

You might need extra compression bandages or a few small stitches but if left untreated it could result in an unsuccessful hair transplant.

Swelling

If you think about what happens during a hair transplant procedure, its little wonder that swelling is common. But it should only be minimal. Sometimes however, very rarely, the swelling can reach down towards the face, and even cause puffy, or black eyes.

Speak to your surgeon if this begins to happen to you.

Bruising

Again, some level of bruising is to be expected after a hair transplant. Sometimes, this can also result in black eyes and your surgeon will be able to tell you if you require further medical treatment.

Numbness

Areas of numbness after a hair transplant can last for several months and is entirely normal. If, however it lasts longer than four to six months, then speak to your surgeon.

Itching

Itching is part of the normal healing process the body goes through after any kind of trauma. Remember those scabs on your knees as a kid, when you were always falling off your bike? They itched like crazy as they were healing, didn’t they?

Hair transplant healing is just the same, as each tiny scab forms and the area underneath begins to heal. However, much like you were told as a kid, resist the urge to scratch! This could result in unnecessary scarring at best or a disruption of the delicate hair follicles in the recipient area and them failing to thrive and grow new hairs at worst. If your itching doesn’t subside, you may be prescribed an oil to apply to your scalp to help.

Extreme itching could be an early sign of infection so get it checked out if it worries you.

Allergic Reaction

The local anaesthetic used to numb your scalp during your procedure can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. If this does happen, it’ll be fairly quickly, so you’ll still be with your surgeon who will know what to do.

You’ll experience difficulty breathing and a tightening of the chest, which can be frightening but thankfully, its also very rare.

Inflamattion

Sometimes, the hair follicles can develop something called folliculitis. This is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection and results in red, inflamed, itchy and sore patches of skin and red bumps or spots with white heads around each affected follicle.

Depending on the cause of the folliculitis, your surgeon or doctor can prescribe antibiotic or antifungal tablets or creams to help clear it up. Folliculitis is unlikely to clear up on its own.

Crusting

Just like after falling off our bikes (see itching, above!) after a hair transplant, small scabs will form over each donor and recipient site. This is just the body’s normal healing mechanisms kicking into play. Scabs aid healing and help prevent infectious bugs getting into the wounds.

It may feel like a crust has formed over your scalp but follow the recommendations for shampooing and applying lotions and oils, and this crusting will begin to disappear over time. To be replaced with beautiful new hair!

All of these side effects are manageable, and this list isn’t meant to scare you or put you off. Just like the leaflet that comes with over the counter or prescription medicines, responsible medics need to make patients aware of what might happen. Often, we see patients who say their swelling or bleeding or itching was so minimal and that the end results were so worth it, that they’d happily experience it all again!

So give us a call today and arrange to come in and see us. We’ll put your mind at rest, and you your hairline in safe hands!