One of my big concerns about getting a hair transplant is how long would I have to stop playing football. I play 5 a side football once a week which doesn’t involve much heading but my biggest passion is 11 a side league football which is a big part of my life.
I know I would have to stop for a few months at least but just how many? I have thought about it and, no matter how hard I tried not to, there would be times when I would have to head the ball and I can imagine what damage heading a ball at full power would do to any transplant.
Anyone who has ever headed a match ball will know just how hard they are. I know this might sound trivial to some but for me it is a big factor in when I could get one. I suppose my question is when is the cut off point when the hair is totally locked in?
Good question. Patients are often very curious about returning to sports and exercising after hair restoration surgery. Most of the questions about returning to weight lifting, jogging, etc are pretty straightforward. Yours is a bit more complicated. But I’ve been asked before.
The grafts are securely anchored within the first 3-10 days. With modern follicular units, I think they are fully secured by around day 3. Other studies — done on slightly larger grafts — show 100% anchoring by day 10. So in this sense, you could wait a full 10 days to be very sure. However, there is one other issue to consider: inflammation and the resulting fibrotic scarring from heading the ball.
We have a little joke around the office with football (or soccer to us yanks!) players: we can almost always tell who plays soccer without even asking. The reason why is because heading the ball repeatedly — like any other minor trauma — causes scarring under the skin. When working in the scalp, you can feel this scarring that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Now, this minor scar buildup isn’t really an issue for normal healthy follicles. However, I don’t think inflammation and scaring around the newly implanted follicles is the most healthy environment for new blood vessel development (which is key for the grafts to grow and thrive) and proliferation of fragile, recently transplanted grafts.
Because of this, you may want to wait as long as you can. 3 months might be ideal because this is when the body creates new blood supply to the grafts and they wake up and start growing hairs. However, this may be overly conservative. And the most important thing you can do is ask your clinic, obtain their specific instructions, and follow them to a tee.
~ Feller Medical