Women do lots of things differently than men, including how and where they suffer from hair loss. It comes as no surprise then that there are also distinctions in how men and women respond after hair transplant surgery. Specifically, the phenomenon of “shock loss,” which is the temporary loss of some follicles in and around the donor and transplant areas after a hair transplant procedure. While this phenomenon is the exception rather than the rule for hair transplant patients, women are more likely to experience shock loss than men are.
What is Shock Loss?
No matter how skilled and precise your hair transplant surgeon is, a hair transplant causes a lot of disruption to the donor and recipient areas of your scalp. All this stress on the scalp can interfere with normal hair growth and result in the loss of otherwise healthy hairs from either the donor site or the site of the transplant.
For example, during a follicular unit extraction (FUE) transplant, we remove follicular units one-by-one. Donor hairs are removed with a one-millimeter punch device and the procedure is abetted with a head positioning device to minimize movement. As precise and advanced as this process is, the removal of donor hairs can impact nearby follicles. This trauma can cause those adjacent follicles to fall out after the procedure.
Shock loss can also occur in the recipient area where the hair grafts are being transplanted. The incision process (making the places for the grafts) can impact neighboring follicles and cause them to go into a resting phase and ultimately fall out.
Why is More Common in Women?
The primary reason that shock loss is more common in women than men is due to the different way men and women typically lose hair. Androgenetic alopecia, the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women, manifests itself in distinctly different ways in men and women.
In men, androgenetic alopecia follows a relatively predictable and familiar pattern that starts with shedding in the frontal hairline. This leads to more pronounced hair loss across the top of the head, and finally toward the crown.
In women, however, androgenetic alopecia progresses differently. Instead of losing hair in isolated areas, women’s hair loss tends to occur throughout the scalp, resulting in thinning hair that can be more difficult to detect than a receding hairline or bald spot on the top of the head.
This means that the extraction and transplantation of hair in men tends to be done in isolated areas of the scalp. The donor area is typically in the back or sides of the head and the recipient area is usually on the top of the head or the hairline. Since most of the work is being done in these isolated areas, it reduces the chances of shock loss elsewhere on the scalp as most of it will remain untouched.
But since women tend to lose hair throughout the scalp, that means the surgeon is going to be doing his or her work throughout the scalp as well. This means there are more follicles which may be impacted by the extraction and transplantation.
A Temporary Phenomenon
In almost all cases in both men and women, shock loss is a temporary phenomenon. Most healthy hair that falls out due to shock loss will regrow in a matter of months after your procedure, appearing as it did before.
While not “shock loss,” transplanted hairs (as opposed to neighboring, healthy hair) may also “fall out” in the first few weeks after surgery. This is normal. The hairs will recycle and begin growing in about three to four months.
In men, shock loss can occur from 10% to 20% of the time while in females it seen more frequently, after almost 30% to 40% of procedures. As with any risks involved in a surgical procedure, your hair transplant surgeon should discuss the possibility of shock loss with you prior to your surgery. But keep in mind that if you do experience post-operative shock loss, it is most likely temporary and no cause for alarm.
Schedule an Appointment for a Hair Loss Evaluation Today
If you have questions about hair transplant surgery and want to find out whether it may be the right solution for your hair loss concerns, we invite you to schedule an evaluation at the Hair Institute of Miami. Drs. Nusbaum and Rose are internationally acclaimed hair restoration surgeons with more than 40 years combined experience. To receive a personalized evaluation and treatment plan, contact us online or call our office directly at 305-925-0222.