Everyone sheds hair every day. But when you have a family history of male pattern baldness or have recently had a hair transplant, seeing any hair fall out of your scalp can be a bit alarming. There are some ways to tell if what you’re dealing with is just normal, everyday shedding or if it’s a more serious issue that a hair restoration surgeon should look at.
What is Normal Shedding?
On an average day, people who aren’t dealing with a type of hair loss can shed as many as 100 strands of hair. Shedding is part of the growth cycle of hair. While some mammals shed their hair on a seasonal schedule, in humans, the shedding process is random, meaning that some days you might naturally shed more hair than other days.
The growth cycle of hair consists of three phases. During the anagen phase, your hair is actively growing. For many people, a single strand of hair will remain in the anagen phase for as long as six years. The average strand of hair grows about 1 cm a month, or about 6 inches a year, in the active growth stage.
Once the anagen phase is over, the hair moves into the catagen phase. During this period, which only lasts a few weeks, the hair stops growing and a small bulb forms at the root of the hair. From the catagen phase, the hair moves into the telogen, or resting phase. Typically, the telogen phase lasts for about 100 days. During this phase, your hair is just hanging out on your head, waiting to be shed. Only a small percentage of hairs on the scalp are in the telogen phase on a normal basis.
What Happens After a Hair Transplant?
It’s common for people to experience one or two types of shedding after a hair transplant, but it is usually quite minimal if noticeable at all. Usually, the hair that was moved from the donor area to the top of the scalp will usually be shed a few weeks after the surgery- this is not shedding. The transplanted hair usually sheds because of the trauma of moving the follicles from one area of the scalp to another. In addition, some people might experience shedding of existing hair in the area. This type of shedding can be alarming for people, but shouldn’t be confused with hair loss, as the hair usually grows back. Instead, it is an example of telogen effluvium, or shock loss, and is usually minimal in most patients. The impact of the hair restoration surgery can cause otherwise normal and healthy hair to move into the telogen phase. Since the telogen phase lasts for a few months, the shedding will take place over a month or two after the surgery, then start to regrowh relatively quickly. The good news is that, unless the hair that was shed was affected by miniaturization and male pattern baldness, it will usually grow back on its own.
Shedding vs. Hair Loss
Often, the way to deal with shedding after a hair transplant is to be patient and to wait for the new transplants to grow back, which occurs in nearly all patients. In some cases, though, what seems to be shedding can actually be a continuation of hair loss.
A hair transplant will restore lost hair, but it won’t keep additional hairs from falling out due to genetic hair loss. For that reason, it’s often recommended that people wait to schedule their hair transplant until there is no shedding. If you have your hair transplant when you’ve only just begun to lose hair, any further hair loss that occurs after the surgery will be noticeable and you likely will need an additional procedure to restore that lost hair. Waiting to schedule your hair transplant until the shedding is stabilized will provide you with a better long term result. To stop the shedding, there are sevearl therapies that can work quite effectively- the most common being laser light therapy and Propecia.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re dealing with normal shedding or a more serious form of hair loss, a hair restoration specialist, such as Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, can help. Dr. Epstein can evaluate your hair and scalp and diagnose your hair loss. He will also let you know if a hair transplant is a good option or if you are better off waiting. Dr. Epstein practices in two locations, in New York City and in Miami. To schedule a consultation with him at the Miami practice, call (305) 666-1774. For a consultation in New York City, call (212) 759-3484 today.