Specifically with salt water swimming and strip surgery, how long should one wait? If it’s a choice between swimming underwater bare headed and swimming with a swimming cap, I’m guessing you would say to swim with out the cap…. but does salt water damage the implanted hair follicles’ chances of success?
- The safety and healing of the implanted grafts.
- The care of the strip scar.
- Sun exposure.
Opinions vary from hair transplant surgeon to hair transplant surgeon. However, when it comes to the safety of the follicular unit grafts, the earliest one should consider ocean swimming is two weeks post-op. At this stage, the grafts are securely anchored and protected below the scalp and there should be no concern for infection.
The next thing to consider is what will you be doing. If you’re just going to laze about in the shallows and enjoy the water then you’re unlikely to be engaging in any activity that might result in scar stretching. However, if you’re going to be actively swimming laps or performing other activities that put undue stress on the wound closure, you may end up with a wider than average scar. Wound healing can take several months.
Finally, exposing your recipient and donor areas to excess sun too early can permanently darken the healing skin. This is known as hyperpigmentation. It is also suggested that too much sun on the recipient area during the first few weeks after surgery may affect hair growth.
I do not recommend wearing a swimming cap or anything that might rub on the grafts and the donor scar.
Ultimately, it’s best to check with your hair restoration physician for specific advice but, given the large investment in both money and time, I feel it’s best to err on the side of caution.
To share ideas with other hair loss sufferers visit the hair loss forum and social community.