Why You Should Avoid Direct Sunlight After FUE Hair Transplant

FUE transplant is a surgical procedure for transplantation of hair for the restoration of hair, minimal scarring, and discomfort. It helps in harvesting follicular units individually in a group of 1 to 4 hairs.

In FUE, the hair on the donor area is shaved for the extraction of a sufficient number of follicular units. These hair are extracted from the outer most skin layer. At the end of this procedure, these extracted units are grafted on the recipient area of the scalp.

FUE Transplant helps in:

  • Getting minimal scarring as a result of surgery which makes it superior to other transplant options.
  • Recovery time following the FUE transplant is relatively shorter and lets patients to return to their normal life activities post-op in a few days.
  • FUE is an alternative option for patients who are not a suitable candidate for FUT either because of the soft scalp or a minimum number of hair follicles present at the donor site.

For denser hair transplant, FUE transplant can help in excising follicle units from other body areas as back, chest, arms, and legs. Other than all these benefits, FUE requires minimal maintenance post-op because the transplanted hair works like natural hair without requiring special shampoos and chemicals for maintaining their density.

Despite all these benefits and low maintenance, there are some precautions that must be taken.

Effect of direct sunlight on hair transplant:

  • Direct exposure of skin to sunlight can be harmful and in situations when the skin is already gone through surgical trauma, then its exposure to sunlight can be even dangerous.
  • In case of FUE hair transplant, direct exposure to sunlight can damage the recipient area on which grafts are implanted. It is strictly recommended for the patients to avoid sunlight post-op in the first month.
  • Usually, patients opt for hair transplantation in summers; that’s why they are on high-risk of direct sunlight exposure in summers.
  • Medically, the skin contains specialised cells known as chromatophores which are responsible for pigmentation of the skin leading to skin darkening in the presence of direct sunlight. In the case of hair transplants, these specialised structures are unable to get activated in the response of direct sunlight and can eventually become inactive leading to their death. On account of this reason, it is always advised for patients to avoid direct sunlight exposure in a few first months and let the chromatophores regenerate as they can regenerate with time.
  • As a result of direct sunlight, not only the skin but hair follicles can also get damaged. Extreme exposure to direct sunlight can result in incorrect attachment of follicle grafts to the scalp giving a negative impact to otherwise natural hair growth.
  • Surgeries result in hypersensitivity of skin and, therefore, it is advised to prevent the scalp from direct sunlight exposure for some time due to this sensitivity of the skin.
  • Transplant failure can occur as a result of this exposure as the skin has different layers while epidermis is the outer most layer of skin which can heal quickly. Damage from the direct sunlight can penetrate deep into the inner layers and deeper tissues which take a relatively long time for healing and result in damages of underlying hair follicles and other tissues which are not even healed yet. In this way, the whole procedure will end up in failure.
  • An additional hair loss can be observed in response to this sunlight as the erythema which is induced by the sun can induce inflammatory process through the mechanism of vasodilation resulting in cell proliferation in the layer of stratum corneum. Skin erythema and cells proliferation, both are not suitable for hair transplant surgery and can result in additional loss of hair from the scalp resulting in alopecia.
  • Phenomenon of photo- yellowing can occur as a response in which healthy keratin (fibre which accounts for almost 90 per cent of hair volume) present in hair can be negatively affected by sunlight and Beta UV radiations resulting in strength loss, texture changes, loss of hair shine, stiffness, and change in hair color to lighter shades.

Post-op period for sunlight prevention:

While determining the period required for preventing exposure, the doctor must think about specific characteristics for individual patients. In other words, there is not any rule for the estimation of the period; rather, it depends upon the patient’s symptoms.

The doctor must consider the following points:

  • Sunlight contains UV radiations which can act more aggressively on the skin which has been through incisions and surgery, therefore, can result in grafts destruction, which were recently implanted.
  • Direct sunlight can undoubtedly damage or worsen the condition of skin due to its increased sensitivity in the first few months.
  • Discolouration can occur due to sunlight exposure in areas or healthy skin surrounding the harvested hair grafts.
  • These hair grafts require some time for their growth and adaptation to the new environment and place, which can directly influence or affect the immune system of the body.

The minimally required period for prevention of skin from sunlight harms is about 3 to 4 months. In some cases, doctors also advise taking precautionary measures for as long as six months after surgery to allow the skin for proper healing, and adequate hair regrowth from the follicles in phases of post hair transplant.

Another vital point to understand regarding the precautionary measures is that you do not need to worry much about short walking intervals as across the parking area, walking through the balcony or any other short path, but if any activity which takes a more extended period of time as for sitting out, playing a ball game, polishing a car outdoor and sweating is not recommended until you achieve the targeted hair growth and condition.

How to avoid sunlight exposure post-op?

If you are thinking about undergoing a transplant procedure, then there are a few considerations which you must know and which will help you greatly to prevent the unsolicited complications:

  • Use headpieces or hats for the appropriate protection of scalp. These hats should not be too loose or too tight that they constrict the area.
  • In the case of sunscreen application, always make sure that your skin incisions are fully healed before applying any ointment for sunlight protection. You will not be wholly forbidden for going outside, but you should always try to schedule your work during evening time to avoid the time when sunlight is on its peak.
  • As many people opt for transplants in summers due to weather conditions, you should avoid getting into the public swimming pools, and even sea as these waters can be containing several impurities harmful for the newly generated skin. When the skin is healed correctly, then it is recommended for you to apply a heavy coat of sunscreen on your scalp and face, as well, while going for the swimming or even beach.
  • If the post-op discomfort persists for about three months, then you must refer to your doctor for further medical advice.

Summary:

Hair transplant is the most abundantly opted procedure nowadays. While undergoing this process, patients must keep a few things in their mind to maximise the outcome and minimise the complications of the procedure. Sunlight is sometimes the most dangerous source of UV radiation for skin which can immediately affect skin health, healing time, and hair grafting. It is always advised for patients to take proper measures for the prevention of direct sunlight exposure in a few initial months after hair transplant surgery.