Question About Swelling

What can I do if swelling does occur after my hair transplant procedure?

Category: General Hair Transplant FAQs

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Headband-Prevention of Post-Operative Forehead Edema

One of the most common complications observed after hair transplant surgery is forehead edema (swelling) and subsequent periorbital ecchymosis (bruising around the eyes). This occurs as fluid from the recipient area migrates downward along tissue planes from the top of the head to the upper forehead, then to the area above the eyebrows and eventually down around the eyes, where the appearance of bruising can be cosmetically distressing to the patient.

Several therapeutic modalities have been utilized to prevent or ameliorate this phenomenon, including the use of corticosteroids, ice packs to the area, massaging the fluid laterally once it accumulates, and sleeping in a semi-upright position. None of these techniques are universally successful.

A novel technique involves the use of a headband; the most optimal results seem to revolve around two factors. First, a channel of least resistance needs to be provided. This can be achieved by simply inserting a rolled-up gauze beneath the headband at the level of the temples; thus, the fluid migrates laterally and the downward, rather than directly down into the orbital region. Secondly, the edges of the thumbs may be used to mechanically massage the fluid laterally in a sweeping motion, from the midline outward toward the temples.


Nothing, just wait for it to diminish, however, to avoid swelling take the Prednisone given to you. Some will experience swelling anyway. To reduce swelling, apply ice packs to the area. 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. Sleep at a 45 degree incline so the fluid will drain backwards not into the front.


Mild swelling two to three days after hair transplantation can happen to some patients. An even smaller amount, meanwhile, may deal with major swelling. All swelling may start on the scalp, but can then spread to the forehead, eyes, and cheeks. Near all instances of swelling cease within 72 hours, though more severe swelling can require up to a week.

While irritating and painful, post-hair transplant swelling does not leave any permanent effects. Patients who undergo swelling are most often upset by the inconvenience, as it can disrupt work or social engagements. Even patients with severe swelling, though, are rarely in such discomfort that they cannot complete basic tasks.

Unfortunately, swelling will happen if it happens. Patients can take a number of precautions that either completely prevents it or minimize symptoms.

  1. 1. Most clinics either prescribe or distribute Prednisone or another steroid to help prevent and control swelling; make sure to take it. Inform your clinic if allergic or otherwise adversely effected specific types of steroids.
  2. 2. Give your forehead (but NOT your scalp) intermittent light massages to disperse any fluid that forms and collects before swelling.
  3. 3. Ice the forehead intermittently.
  4. 4. Sleep upright for the first three to four nights to prevent fluid buildup.

Unfortunately, even with all of these precautions, swelling is still a possibility. The above things to do, however, will both lessen the chance of its development and severity should it arise.

The type of transplant may also play a role, as some are more invasive than others. Some experts believe FUT is more likely to cause swelling than FUT, for instance. Dr. Cole's namesake FUE variant, Cole Isolation Technique (CIT®), is among the most minimally invasive options available. Among other benefits, such as an unparalleled ability to, with ACell, regenerate 30% to 40% of donor follicles, CIT® also nearly always leaves unnoticeable scars. Patients can reasonably expect that CIT®, therefore, provides a smaller chance of swelling. Learn more about the procedure on our CIT® page.


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