Shock Loss After a Hair Transplant: Why Does It Happen?

Hair loss after a hair transplant is more common than you might think. Natural factors to mistakes in the procedure can influence the detachment of the strands.
Shock Loss After a Hair Transplant: Why Does It Happen?
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 01 April, 2023

Shock loss is the term given to hair loss after a hair transplant, and it causes great concern in patients. The immediate loss of the grafted strands is an erroneous belief, as the most common occurrence after the procedure is shock loss. This hair loss makes people think that the intervention didn’t work, and that the hair won’t grow again, or that if it does grow it’ll be too weak.

Experts point out that the purpose of hair transplants is to transfer hair to bald areas of the scalp and that, a couple of weeks later, it’s normal for the strands to fall out. This is a common situation, the causes of which we’ll now explore in more detail.

What is “shock loss”?

Shock loss, also known as shedding or telogen effluvium, is a phenomenon caused by changes in the natural growth phases of hair. According to the Aesthetic Medicine Association of Madrid, the effect occurs once the hair follicles go from the growth stage to the resting stage.

The loss is temporary and common after hair transplants. An article published in Annals of Dermatology indicates that this effluvium is typical of cicatricial alopecia and is sometimes associated with physiological stressful events and acute or chronic diseases.

Shedding tends to occur in the hair donor region and in the recipient region, but it’s more common in the newly transplanted area. As it isn’t a definitive condition, this shouldn’t become a cause for anxiety because the strands are reborn with greater strength.

Hair loss due to shock loss begins to become evident 2 weeks after the graft. However, some cases can occur up to 12 weeks after the procedure. As for the time it takes for hair renewal, it’s estimated to be about 4 months after the detachment.

Causes of a “shock loss” after a hair transplant

The hair replacement cycle includes a growth phase, a rest phase, and a final transition phase. It’s in the last stage last the hair falls out to make way for new strands.

In hair transplant patients, the same thing happens in the same way, accentuated by the trauma perceived by the scalp when skipping the growth phase, going straight to rest, and continuing with the transition. In other words, the grafts receive the hair strands at once during the rest period, but then lose it in the falling period; this stage is followed by natural regeneration.

In addition to the weakening that the hair skin undergoes due to the transplant, there are separate causes that accelerate the falling out of the hair. During the operation, the follicles may suffer and the incisions may be too close together or too large. Also, the pressure caused by the graft influences the fragility of pre-existing follicles.

Accidental micropunctures that damage healthy hair are also causes of post-transplant effluvium.

How to restore hair health after shedding

Keeping hair healthy after telogen effluvium involves following the care instructions given by the surgeon after the procedure. Among the ways suggested by specialists to accelerate hair growth, topical stimulants that promote the abundance of hair strands stand out. Similarly, oral medication is relevant in order to thicken the hair and regulate the work of hormones linked to hair growth.

Some prescriptions include the consumption of minoxidil and finasteride, but any drug to continue the evolution of the implant must be strictly prescribed by the doctor.

Supplements rich in vitamins A, B, C, D and E, along with those of the B complex, are also beneficial against hair loss. The American Academy of Dermatology advises several methods to lead a healthy lifestyle and help slow hair loss.

  • Gentle styling technique
  • Avoiding chemicals, including hair dyes
  • Respecting scalp hygiene
  • Applying products with restorative qualities
  • A healthy diet including iron, nutrients and proteins.
  • Limiting the use of heat appliances on the hair or spraying a hair thermoprotector before use.
  • Not smoking, as this causes inflammation of the body, which worsens the condition of the hair.

Is a “shock loss” after a hair transplant preventable?

The publication Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America emphasizes that many of the complications related to hair restoration are preventable. They argue that the physician can control the performance of the technique, reducing the likelihood of hair surgery failure and achieving natural hair replacement.

However, a shock loss is almost inevitable; only a small percentage of patients don’t experience it. An essential part of the process is patience and understanding that in a matter of months you’ll have strong new hair.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.