In years past patients who underwent hair transplant procedures experienced a significant amount of facial swelling in the forehead and around the eyes post procedure. Typically the swelling occurred at around 3 days post operatively after the hair transplant and usually resolved by around 6 days post operatively. Oral steroids have been used in the past to combat this swelling and definitely helped to reduce the swelling in many instances, but taking oral steroids, even in small doses, can subject the patient to other possible complications. This led the hair transplant community to look for other options. In the context of any hair transplant procedure I use what is called “tumescence” to allow for easier graft placement. Tumescence is where saline fluid is injected into the scalp in the regions where the new hair is to be transplanted. This accomplishes a few different things. Firstly, it compresses the vasculature down below which then allows us to cause less vascular injury when placing the grafts. Also, it stretches the scalp which also causes less bleeding, thus allowing for better visualization. Finally the stretching of the scalp also “widens the playing field” of the area to receive the hair transplants, thus allowing us to place the grafts closer together. When the scalp shrinks back to it usual size this helps to create optimal density. What I now routinely do is mix in a small amount of injectable steroid solution, diluted in the saline that is to be used for tumescence. In addition, I no longer give any oral steroids. Since there is no downside to diluting such a small amount of steroid into the tumescence fluid, this make it much safer for the patient then taking oral steroids and the results have shown that greater than 90% of my patients experience no post operative swelling after a hair transplant procedure. In the rare case that swelling does occur, it is then possible to treat with oral strides if so desired. This truly has been a major advance in the field and one that greatly benefits the patients and decreases possible complications.
All the best,
Marc Dauer, M.D.