Our bodies’ metabolic functions are part of one whole cyclical process that involves contralateral interactions – in other words, the healthiness of one part of the body translates to the other parts. Naturally, our hair follicles are no exception, as they’re a byproduct and, therefore, subject to the same care we provide for our organs.
With this in mind, it’s only fair to wonder about the effects of alcoholic beverages – whether they’ve been linked with hair loss (directly or indirectly) and if they can affect the recovery process of a hair transplant.
There’s thorough and ongoing research on the relationship between alcohol in our bodies and the health of our hair follicles. With everything we know so far, we’ve gathered enough info to help enlighten our readers and answer the main question of whether it is okay to drink alcohol before and after a transplant.
The Chemical Reactions Behind Everything
To answer the lingering question, we must first examine what we know about alcohol and the reactions it creates within our bodies. For one, the liquid enters our bloodstream and slowly degrades the liver. If that sounds scary, it’s only the beginning!
This process makes it so that your fluid balance is, well, almost non-existent. That’s because alcohol dehydrates your body and damages the cells. With fluid balance being off and the blood thinning, your tissues will receive inadequate oxygen and nutrients, thus bringing us to our main point – delayed healing.
Indeed, drinking alcohol inevitably results in a lower cell division rate, which by association, also means that the wounds will close at a slower pace. This ties in with both FUE and FUT transplant methods, as both entail scarring. Granted, alcohol can impact your transplant in other ways as well.
Consumption Before a Transplant
Established, highly professional, and medically-licensed practitioners and clinics will always provide local anesthetics – for self-explanatory reasons. Since extracting and implanting hair follicles isn’t exactly a painless process, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. What may be surprising, however, is the way alcohol can affect anesthetics.
Since alcohol dilutes our blood, any type of local anesthetic will be difficult to dose individually. In addition, the aforementioned blood thinning can increase bleeding during the operation.
There must be as little bleeding as possible, especially if the procedure you’re receiving uses the FUE transplantation method. It contributes to the delay of the follicle insertion and increases the chances of infections by a significant margin.
Consumption After a Transplant
If you’ve been following along thus far, one of the main questions we’re tackling has already been answered, albeit indirectly. Since we went through the ins and outs of the chemical reactions that alcohol enkindles, the answer is somewhat self-explanatory, even if it’s only a part of the bigger picture.
Sure enough, drinking alcohol after a hair transplant procedure is widely ill-advised by medical experts, but not just for the reasons we brought attention to in the first half of the article. Aside from delayed healing, alcohol’s negative effect on the immune system also entails a weaker resistance to various infections.
In addition, the effects of the post-op antibiotics prescribed to you will be significantly reduced for the same reasons mentioned above.
Alcohol consumption also promotes heavier sweating, which, as we’ve mentioned before in one of our other articles, is far from desirable. The crust that forms during the healing phase can soften or even tear off your scalp, leaving scars and – worst of all – making the transplant pointless as the grafts die out.
Long-Term Effect on Hair
While you should discuss when you can start drinking again with your medical overseer, this doesn’t mean you should lead the same carefree lifestyle as before. Alcohol negatively affects hair growth in the long run, directly contributing to an increased and steady release of stress hormones.
There’s no full “one hundred percent” guarantee that the adverse effects of alcohol won’t impact your newly transplanted hair follicles, which is why every patient carries a level of personal responsibility with regard to the transplantation they undergo.
We hope this article elucidated the matter regarding alcohol consumption and post-operative care, not to mention the adverse effects of drinking even before the transplant has taken place. It is strongly recommended that patients abstain from any alcoholic beverage before and after a transplant for a couple of weeks minimum. With that said, reducing or outright eliminating alcohol from your life will significantly increase the chances of keeping your head of hair healthy and long-lasting.