Shock Hair Loss (shock loss) is a real phenomena that should be spoken about before you undergo a hair transplant. While it is a rare occurrence across the board in all hair restorations, it occurs in approximately 5% of all cases. But what is it and what causes it?
Shock loss is where there is a loss of natural hair whether it is from the donor area or the recipient area AFTER a hair restoration. Shock hair loss is not specific to any one procedure because we have seen it in the donor area in both FUE and FUT surgeries. More commonly it occurs in the recipient area. The cause of shock loss is normally from trauma. The trauma can be physical, chemical, or both.
Chemically this has been known to happen with extended use of epinephrine, lidocaine, and Marcaine during unusually long cases beyond for instance 12 hours. One particular case we observed that occurred at a severely inexperienced clinic from California caused a massive shock loss due partially to an 18 hour (unheard of and unnecessary) excessively using local anesthetics in a donor area. This was a single case that we have ever witnessed in 16 years that this happened in an FUE but this proves that it can happen when clinics with little to no experience perform FUE.
In this particular situation, the patient had had a previous strip FUT and so we theorized that circulation above the strip line was compromised and the excessive anesthetics and FUE procedure led to the massive shock loss. In our opinion if the clinic had performed a normal FUE with normal time constraints then this patient would probably NOT have had this shock loss. Fortunately this type of shock loss is temporary and should have grown back after three months time. However consider this poor guys situation with work, family and friends with donor shock loss for the tree months. It must have been devastating to say the least.
Strip FUT donor shock loss is rather rare but it does occur as well. It is where trauma from the excision of the tissue or even poor suturing techniques can lead to shock loss along the donor scar line. In these cases, again the hair should grow back in three months time.
Last but not least the more common shock loss can occur in the recipient area where the grafts are transplanted. This happens usually during the incision process (making the places for the grafts). Physically traumatizing the follicles that are native are accidentally crushed or cut by the incision making tool. Inexperienced clinics will not use proper magnification to see the native hairs so that he/she does not make an incision on top of a native follicle. Proper magnification ensures making an incision next to a native follicle. Shock loss due to this also should return in three months time although there is one caveat that could have an influence on it’s return. If the patient had miniaturized hairs where the shock loss is occurring, then these hairs might not come back. This is because miniaturized hairs are already on their way out. Shock loss due to trauma may speed up that process.
The bottom line is that Shock Hair Loss is exceedingly rare (<5%) of all hair restoration cases combined. In addition to that, 99% of shock loss cases are temporary with the average of hair return being three months time. And lastly, you as a person seeking a hair restoration should make sure the clinic you choose has years of experience and explains to you thoroughly about ALL complications due to a hair restoration.
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