Can FUE Hair Transplant Surgery Help Covid Patients?
In the last couple of years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people needing FUE hair transplant surgery. In fact, the entire hair restoration market has been skyrocketing ever since COVID hit the United States. The hair transplant market was analyzed by Technavio Plus and was forecasted to increase by USD 9.89 billion between 2021 and 2026 worldwide. This massive 120-page report details both the FUE and FUT hair transplant market in North America, Asia, and Europe.
The reason for this incredible market increase is the cases of male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, have been rising since 2019 which is causing more and more men to seek out an FUE hair transplant surgery. The prevalence of this condition is brought about by increased stress, poor eating habits, smoking, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the system. Genetic factors play a role as well. Furthermore, reports indicate that COVID can cause hair loss in certain situations.
Hair loss can happen for a great number of reasons. There are genetic factors and triggers that cause it, autoimmune disorders, both shock to the system and poor lifestyle habits have been culprits. Today we want to look into the different types and causes of hair loss to determine if COVID is in fact responsible for this increase in the hair transplant market. Then we will dive into some research to see if FUE hair transplant surgery is a good option for COVID-related hair loss.
The Three Stages of Normal Hair Growth
If there was just one reason and one reason alone that both men and women begin to experience hair loss, the hair restoration industry would be much less complex. Instead, scientists and researchers have been hard at work for decades trying to understand all the many different reasons we lose our hair, and how to combat it.
In order to understand hair loss, we first need to explain the natural cycles of growth that our hair goes through. Any interruption of these three stages of growth can create an environment that could lead to hair loss in both men and women.
Stages of Hair Growth
- The Anagen Phase. The majority of hair rest in the anagen phase at any given time. This is when the hair and the hair follicles are active and growing normally. The cells in the root of the hair follicle are rapidly dividing and new hair is growing up out of the bulb, or root of the follicle. During the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, hair normally grows about 1 cm every month or so.
- The Catagen Phase. The catagen phase or “transitional phase” occurs as the hair growth slows down and stops. Normally, about 3% of someone’s hair exists in this phase at any given time. This phase lasts around two to three weeks.
- The Telogen Phase. This phase is the “resting phase” of the hair growth process. Normally around 8% of someone’s hair is in the telogen phase at any given time. The telogen phase lasts around 100 days, and for body hair and the hair on eyebrows and the eyelashes, this stage lasts much longer. During the telogen phase, the hair follicle is completely at rest and the hair that has grown from the follicle during the anagen phase will normally be shed, allowing new hair to begin to grow when the anagen phase starts again.
The Different Types of Hair Loss
Androgenetic Alopecia Hairloss
These are the three main types of hair loss that are the most common. There are many different types of alopecia. They also manifest for a variety of different reasons. The most common type of hair loss in both men and women is called androgenetic alopecia. This occurs when someone’s body becomes unable to process specific hormones called androgens. In other words, the body begins to produce elevated levels of the hormone.
Androgens are sex hormones that are produced by both men and women, normally beginning at puberty. The most common androgen that causes androgenetic alopecia is testosterone. The most common reason for androgenetic alopecia to occur is a combination of genetic markers. And contrary to popular belief, they’re passed down by both the maternal and paternal genes. Different lifestyle and environmental factors like smoking, stress, and alcohol use play a part as well.
Alopecia Areata Hairloss
Another form of hair loss that is common in both men and women is alopecia areata. This form of hair loss is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when a person’s white blood cells mistake the cells of a person’s hair follicles for a foreign invader. Alopecia areata manifests as circular clumps of hair all falling out at once over the scalp. Sometimes other parts of the body as well. Some patients see a couple of clumps fall out. Others lose all of the hair on their entire bodies.
Telogen Effluvium Hairloss
Another very common form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. This occurs when a large number of hair follicles all enter and stay in the telogen phase at the same time and in an unnatural timeframe. When the majority of your hair gets stuck in the telogen phase, hair will begin to fall out of the follicles and no new hair will begin to grow as the anagen phase will not begin. Normally during a natural telogen phase, a person will lose around 50 to 100 hairs per day. During telogen effluvium, someone can lose up to 500 hairs per day which will create a thinning of the hair, especially around the crown and temples of the scalp.
Telogen effluvium is normally brought about by a sudden shock, or stress put on the body. A thyroid imbalance, childbirth, major surgery, or a bad fever can cause the hair follicles to prematurely enter the telogen phase. Sometimes an iron deficiency in women can be the cause of telogen effluvium, as well as starting or stopping birth control pills. Telogen effluvium generally doesn’t need an FUE hair transplant surgery. That’s because after the body regulates and recovers from the stress or shock, the hair follicles will recover and the anagen phase will begin, and new hair will start to grow. However, there have been instances where telogen effluvium has lasted for years. The reason for this is still unclear to doctors and researchers.
COVID and Hair Loss
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has reaped a tremendous amount of damage all over the world. Regardless of your political stance or views, it’s impossible to deny the effects COVID has had on not just our health but the world economy. The long-term side effects following a full-blown COVID infection range from loss of taste and smell to brain fog, chronic fatigue, and respiratory issues. Hair loss is another common side effect.
COVID suffers reported that they experience large clumps of hair falling out during showers. Others while brushing and combing their hair. This would normally occur 60 or more days after recovering from COVID and would be quite alarming.
COVID-19 Hair Loss & Teleogen Effluvium
Doctors have quickly determined that COVID-related hair loss is often a case of telogen effluvium. Depending on how sick you got, your body will enter a stage of shock from the virus which will cause the majority of your hair follicles to enter into the telogen phase prematurely. Normally this case of hair loss will reduce or subsides over time. Hair follicles gradually start to move into the anagen phase as the body recovers from the virus. (Giulio Rizzetto, 2020)
Sometimes, a person infected with COVID continues to experience symptoms that do not go away after they recover. We call this “long COVID,” or per the CDC, “Post-COVID”. The only thing that doctors are sure about in regard to long COVID is that it affects everyone differently. One person can recover completely from an infection but not get their sense of taste or smell back. Others continue to have serious respiratory issues even after recovering. (Gorna, 2021).
There have been instances where sufferers of long COVID have had cases of prolonged telogen effluvium. In these situations, the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle persists and the hair loss due to telogen effluvium continues. There is limited data at this time on how long this continued symptom of hair loss persists. This is especially true as long-COVID is still a very new condition, with little research into it. (Hennig, 2021)
FUE Hair Transplant Surgery for Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a condition that more often than not will resolve itself and therefore not require a hair transplant surgery. However, in the situations where it persists and a large amount of hair is lost due to the condition, an FUE hair transplant surgery can be called for.
In a case where telogen effluvium does not go away, a patient would have to treat the underlying reason as to why the telogen effluvium is occurring before they would be a good candidate for a hair transplant. If stress and a poor diet are the cause of the hair loss, then if someone got an FUE hair transplant, without correcting the underlying factors causing the telogen effluvium, the hair that is transplanted would eventually also be affected by the condition as well.
Hair Goes Through Telogen Effluvium After Transplants
In fact, directly after FUE hair transplant surgery, a normal part of the healing process is a stage of telogen effluvium that the hair follicles will go through. When you extract and then transplant the hair follicles, they automatically enter the telogen phase due to the shock of the transplant. This can be very alarming to patients because when this happens the newly transplanted hair will fall out of the transplanted hair follicle.
If you perform an FUE hair transplant surgery while someone currently suffers from telogen effluvium, the additional stress from the hair transplant may create an environment where more hair follicles succumb to the condition. It is very important to address the original causes of the telogen effluvium before you schedule your hair transplant surgery.
Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles for Your FUE Hair Transplant Surgery
If you are experiencing hair loss for any reason and feel that an FUE hair transplant surgery might be right for you, contact our FUE clinic. We’ve been in business for nearly two decades. Furthermore, we have thousands of happy clients who made the important decision you’re facing right now. If you are experiencing hair loss due to COVID, we’re here for you. We’re happy to discuss the possible surgical and non-surgical hair restoration options with you in person.
Best Hair Transplant is the best place to schedule your hair transplant in Los Angeles. We’ve helped both men and women regrow their lost hair. But don’t take our word for it. We suggest learning as much as possible about hair restoration. Do so prior to making a decision on how to address your hair loss. Not every procedure is right for everyone.
At Best Hair Transplant, we’re proud of our results and happy to provide hair restoration services. Additionally, we’re proud to make hair transplants affordable and help you save money on a variety of hair transplants.
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- Giulio Rizzetto. (2020). Telogen effluvium related to post severe Sars‐Cov‐2 infection: Clinical aspects and our management experience. Wiley Public Health Emergency Collection.
- Gorna, R. (2021). Long COVID guidelines need to reflect lived experience. The Lancet.
- Hennig, V. (2021). Increased risk of chronic fatigue and hair loss following COVID-19 in individuals with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.