This question was posed by a hair loss sufferer seeking hair loss help on our hair restoration forum and answered by Dr. William Lindsey of Reston, VA who is one of our recommended hair restoration physicians. His professional answer is below.
I don’t really smoke cigarettes, maybe one here and there, however I do like to smoke a small capone filtered cigar about once a day (i do inhale a little). My question is if I must stop I will, but I didn’t stop before hair transplant surgery because I wasn’t told to because it came up so quick, so it would mainly be for after. Will a smoke a day or even every other day make THAT much of a difference in the grafts healing properly and hair growth if I am doing everything else perfect? It just seems to me like more of a extensive precaution than anything. Again keep in mind I don’t smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I’m talking maybe one filtered cigar a day or every other day and maybe a cigarette or two a week tops.
I have posted several threads on this hair loss forum on the effect of smoking on wound healing and agree with the sentiment of those of you who feel that if you are spending a bunch of money on hair replacement surgery and smoking might compromise your result, don’t smoke for 10 days before and after your procedure.
Several studies, and malpractice insurance carriers, have documented the preoperative effect of smoking on wound repair.
In practice, it is not easy to infect the scalp of a healthy person with clean, not even sterile, surgical technique. For that matter it isn’t easy to infect the face either as long as clean technique is followed.
But, wound infection is just one end of a spectrum of poor healing. The other end is decreased blood supply and probably decreased oxygen supply at the wound edges. That wound can be either the strip itself, or each receiving slit in the recipient area. I say probably as I don’t know if its ever been studied in hair cases.
I can tell you as a hair loss doctor that I warn patients about all of this before surgery, have them sign a smoking acknowledgement form, and when I see them standing outside the office after their procedure smoking, I want to pull my hair out.
I have not smoked and I understand its powerful addictive qualities as both of my parents smoked until their premature deaths; but if at all possible, hair restoration patients really should not smoke before and after surgical procedures.
Its hard enough to go through the procedure and spend the money, give yourself every option possible for the best results and full hair regrowth!
William Lindsey, M.D.