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.
How long does one need to stop drinking and smoking before and after hair transplant surgery?
A lot of literature discusses the increased risk of infection and skin slough (loss) in smokers undergoing hair replacement surgery. Although this is much more risky in facial surgery (in which I require patients to stop smoking for 10 days prior to (more important than after actually))surgery); wound infection is more likely in any surgery in smokers. I advise all hair transplant patients of this and strongly suggest they quit prior to hair restoration surgery. The issue is that smoking decreases the oxygen delivery in small blood vessel areas; and although the scalp is EXTREMELY vascular, I am concerned about the local blood supply to the dense packed individual follicles being compromised by smoking and decreasing graft survival.
As to alcohol; the main concern is anticoagulation: turning a dry surgical field in which dense packing is doable into a bloody field with popping of the transplanted hair and prolonged surgical time; and decreased hair growth yield.
So, we recommend strongly, no smoking or drinking for 10 days prior to hair replacement surgery.
William Lindsey, M.D.