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Using Minoxidil After a Hair Transplant – explained by a dermatologist

Using Minoxidil After a Hair Transplant explained by a dermatologist

TL;DR

▶ Minoxidil is a vasodilator. It boosts hair growth by increasing the blood flow to the scalp, resulting in thicker hair and healthier follicles.

▶ After a hair transplant, experiencing hair shedding or hair thinning is very common. Minoxidil is a great supplement medication for preventing that in transplanted areas and others.

▶ After waiting until a month following the surgery, you can safely start using Minoxidil as either an oral pill or as a foam (or liquid) to put it directly on your scalp.

▶ The risks that Minoxidil aims to minimize or even wholly eliminate are long-term effects. Similarly, to benefit from Minoxidil, you must continue using it periodically for a long time, at least for a year after the surgery.

A common misconception in our field is that many believe hair transplants are limited to surgeries. 

Usually put forward by inexperienced clinics, this notion causes a lot of patients to have an unsatisfying hair transplant result. For a transplant to be “successful,” you should take supplement medications following the surgery.

We do not want you to lose most of your transplanted hair within a year post-surgery, so today, I propose your lucky charm for avoiding this fate and possibly a second surgery: Minoxidil.

In this blog, I will give you the benefits of using Minoxidil after a hair transplant, explain why it is crucial for your hair’s survivability, and possibly clear your doubts about using it:

Let’s start by understanding what it is:

What Is Minoxidil? 💊

Minoxidil is one of the most popular FDA-approved medications for treating male pattern baldness (MPB). You can benefit from it either in the form of an oral medication that you can get with a prescription or as a topical foam (or a liquid solution) that you can buy from any pharmacy close to your location in easy access or by simply ordering it online.

Minoxidil is prominent for being an effective supplement medication against male pattern baldness that you can use alongside more direct options such as a hair transplant. However, it is not a “cure” for completely eliminating the potential for further hair loss, especially not overnight.

Still, with what it does, it has a reputation, which has led to it having its place in the pharmacies under different brand names:

Minoxidil Brand Names

Finasteride brands

Although this drug’s core name is Minoxidil, you will often see the name Rogaine used alongside it. That is because Rogaine is the most common brand name for Minoxidil. They refer to the same drug, but Minoxidil is the active ingredient inside Rogaine that is responsible for hair regrowth and is not exclusive to Rogaine. 

Aside from Rogaine (and its UK counterpart, Regaine), the brands Loniten and Keep are other prominent ones with the same compound. Aside from having alternate uses (such as being a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia), these medications can differ in terms of the amount of Minoxidil inside them, which is usually between 2 to 5% depending on the brand and product you are getting.

After consulting with your doctor and considering your medical history, you can find the optimal dosage for you. However, regardless of the dosage, its working principle is the same in every brand:

How Does Minoxidil Work?

First, we should clear out about Minoxidil are the misconceptions about it. Minoxidil does not directly cause you to magically regrow lost hair, especially if your balding area has completely lost its hair follicles. Instead, it works by supporting your body’s natural hair growing and replenishing process. 

To properly explain, Minoxidil works and helps you regrow lost hair by doing two things:

1️⃣ Minoxidil is a vasodilator that boosts hair growth by increasing the blood flow to your scalp. 

Vasodilators are medications that widen the blood vessels. For the same reason, Minoxidil’s initial use was for treating high blood pressure when it was discovered that it improves blood flow by dilating blood vessels. 

Today, as a medication for male pattern baldness, its vasodilatory qualities are one of the primary ways it helps support hair growth. When you apply it to your scalp, your blood vessels around the balding areas are widened, which in turn causes more blood containing oxygen and healthy nutrients to flow into your scalp. This process feeds your follicles more, promoting a quicker growth of new, thicker, and healthier hair, which fights excessive balding you are experiencing by slowing or even completely stopping it.

2️⃣ Minoxidil replaces thinner hair.

Contrary to popular belief, hair shedding is not the only way to experience visible balding on your scalp. In fact, due to male pattern baldness, most of your hair follicles experience shrinking before shedding. This process can come to such a degree before falling out that your hair can look thinner and bald even before you start losing them.

Minoxidil contains a certain type of nitric oxide moiety, which is a part of a molecule that can bind to nitric oxide and cause your hair follicles to shed and stimulate the growth of new follicles to start replacing shed hair with thicker hair more quickly.

Overall, its process is simply about boosting your body’s natural hair growth in the right direction, the right direction toward your new shining hair.

So, considering its chemical process, how should you decide whether you can start using it, especially after a hair transplant? By checking if you meet the measures:

Should You Use Minoxidil After a Hair Transplant?

Minoxidil is a very beneficial medication against male pattern baldness. However, simply because you have experienced any level of hair loss does not mean that Minoxidil will be the right choice for you. As we have stated, there are examples, such as when a patient completely loses hair follicles in a bald area, where Minoxidil will simply not work.

In this case, we have some measures for deciding if it is too late to use Minoxidil or not. According to studies, Minoxidil is much more effective in patients with the following:

➡️ Male Pattern Baldness/Androgenetic Alopecia

➡️ Smaller areas with hair loss, especially the ones in other parts of your scalp after a hair transplant

➡️ Progressing hair loss for under five years

➡️ Central hair loss rather than frontal hair loss

So, if you have decided on getting a hair transplant because an area in your scalp has experienced complete hair loss that led to balding, Minoxidil can not help. And if you have not used Minoxidil after getting a hair transplant for a very long time and you have had excessive hair shedding for quite some time, then it might be too late for Minoxidil in this case as well.

But, if you have been experiencing hair loss relatively new, or recently you have started experiencing it in a completely new area after a hair transplant, Minoxidil is your golden ticket to ensuring that great hair sticks around.

That being said, if you are eligible to get that golden ticket, let’s talk about how exactly it will guarantee that your future sticks around:

How can it help?

Minoxidil helping hair growth
Minoxidil helping hair growth. Source: The official website of Regaine.

According to various studies, Minoxidil can help a patient after a hair transplant in three ways:

1️⃣ Minoxidil can help by supporting the growth of your newly transplanted hair.

The success or failure of a hair transplant is defined by the number of hair follicles that survive the first year of the post-surgery process. Because naturally, there is a chance that your body can reject some of the transplanted hair. In this aspect, Minoxidil does a great job of minimizing the loss or covering it entirely, as using it periodically after a hair transplant can significantly accelerate new hair growth. So, we advise our patients to use topical minoxidil starting after the first month and continue until the end of the 12th month.

2️⃣ Minoxidil can help by eliminating post-surgery shock loss.

A hair transplant is an experience that creates a lot of immense physical trauma on your scalp. Naturally, after the surgery, some of your non-transplanted hair can fall victim to shedding, which we call shock loss. Minoxidil, in this case, is recommended after a hair transplant because it reduces the risk of shock loss. Hair loss due to shock loss is typically temporary, but sometimes it can lead to further hair shedding that does not grow back. Minoxidil eliminates this phase and possibility.

3️⃣ Minoxidil can help by removing the potential for further hair loss.

Aside from experiencing shock loss a short time after the surgery, the parts of your scalp that did not get a hair transplant are still vulnerable to the effects of male pattern baldness. And depending on your age, it is still highly likely that further hair loss will appear on other parts. To prevent this scenario and the need to undergo another hair transplant surgery in the future, you should get the help of Minoxidil.

But be careful; there are different options for Minoxidil brands, dosages, and forms. You should heed the advice of your doctor about which one of them is the correct one for you. And then check how to use the right one:

How to Use Minoxidil After a Hair Transplant?

Minoxidil’s topical solutions and foams are mostly preferred for treating hair loss. The general directions of these medications suggest using 1 ml of the liquid solution or half a cap of the foam on the scalp twice a day, focusing on the areas with hair loss. You also can, of course, use 1 mg of oral pills daily, too, if you prefer.

However, to safely benefit from Minoxidil as much as possible, you should know when to stop or resume Minoxidil and how long you can or should use it:

When to resume Minoxidil after a hair transplant?

In our clinic, we suggest our patients wait until a month after surgery has already passed to give their scalp some time to rejuvenate after the hair transplant.

Furthermore, to minimize any potential side effects from Minoxidil, we suggest that it is best used by applying 1 ml of topical solution on the affected area/s twice a day instead of once a day. Minoxidil’s rare possible side effects include scalp sensitivity, skin dryness, irritation around the application site, and increased heart rate.

Overall, as we value our patients’ health after surgery, we also see it essential to notice that just as you may resume using Minoxidil after some time, you also can and should stop using it the moment you experience extreme side effects. And if that happens, you should notify your doctor immediately.

But mostly, as these side effects are pretty rare, you can safely use Minoxidil for a long time. And even if they were to prefer not using it, we advise our patients to at least follow the suggested standard amount of time for using it after a hair transplant surgery:

How long should you use Minoxidil?

Another common misconception about this product is that it will make your hair thicker overnight or is a one-time solution. It is not, so do not get disappointed when you only see subtle results after weeks of regular use. Unlike direct physical solutions like hair transplant surgeries, this medication may take several months up to 1 year or more to see results, so you have to be patient.

And just as Minoxidil takes time to work, people who respond well to it usually expect thickening of their existing strands within the first year, plus some additional new hair growth from taking this medication over time. In a study, 62% of the 984 men using 5 percent Minoxidil continuously over a year (Rogaine, FDA Approved) reported a reduction in hair loss. 

Overall, Minoxidil is an effective supportive method with various options to contribute to your body’s healing process in a very natural process. So long as you meet the criteria to be eligible to use it, Minoxidil can prove to you that it is not too late to save your shining future by slowly recreating the ideal image in your head into reality. 

However, if you are still unsure about using it and have questions, do not worry. This is where we come in:

UnitedCare – holistic approach for a balding-free life 🩺

Patient who used Minoxidil after a hair transplant
The change of hair in one of our patients after using Minoxidil in the post-surgery process.

Here at UnitedCare, the success of a hair transplant is our priority

We want to ensure that you get the perfect result of a head full of hair, and more importantly, we want to ensure you never have to worry about balding again. Therefore, we suggest Minoxidil and other methods, such as Finasteride and Vitamin C supplements, for the post-surgery process.

Researching a drug from scratch and deciding on using it or not can be a complicated process. So, just as the studies indicate, we believe in the importance of educating and helping our patients before and after the surgery is already done:

1️⃣ Our approach begins with consulting you on every question you have so that we can give you the best solution you want without hesitation.

2️⃣ Then, we move on to using medications such as Minoxidil or Finasteride and doing hair massage, herbal therapy, and exercise to reduce your hair loss to a minimum before the surgery.

3️⃣ Lastly, after the surgery, we will stay beside you for further communication on properly using Minoxidil and knowing what to do in case of any side effects or questions you may have. As research indicates, using Minoxidil until at least a year after the surgery will significantly improve your hair restoration process result.

Afterward, we will still be only a phone call away from you, and if you are pleased with the results, we will prescribe you continue using Minoxidil. If not, you are free to stop using it. 

Balancing your health and comfort matters, and we will achieve it.

Ready to begin the journey? Click here to start the first step:

Maximize the success rate of your hair transplantation with Minoxidil.

Restore your natural look with UnitedCare‘s expert dermatologists:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Does Minoxidil thicken transplanted hair?

As a prominent supplement medication against male pattern baldness, Minoxidil has many qualities, one of which is thickening transplanted hair. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that works by widening the blood vessels. As a result, more oxygen, enzymes, and healthy nutrients are transferred to your scalp. Gradually, this process causes your body to grow your hair thicker, brighter, and healthier. And since hair follicles are transplanted from one area to another during a hair transplant surgery, they still need the oxygen and nutrients from vessels to grow hair. Especially now, they will need more due to the physical trauma of shock loss affecting your body. Therefore, Minoxidil not only helps thicken your existing hair, but it also helps your transplanted hair thicken and healthily grow, if not entirely help them survive; alternatively, your body can reject the transplant.


Can you use Minoxidil on the donor area?

Minoxidil can be used on donor areas and the areas that did not get a transplant. Minoxidil does not directly affect your hair’s growth. Instead, it helps your body’s existing flow of growing hair by widening your vessels to carry more oxygen and nutrients. Also, it supports your hair follicles so that your existing hair can grow thicker, or the newly transplanted follicles can boost your future hair thicker. Therefore, using Minoxidil does not get in direct touch with your hair in any area, and it is safe to use it in the donor area. Still, in our clinic, we advise our patients to wait until a month after the surgery has already passed just so that we can give their bodies some time to pass the shock loss. From then on, we advise that you use Minoxidil on both the donor area and other areas without a transplant for up to a year after the surgery to ensure that surgery can have a satisfactory result in the long term and you can avoid the further hair shedding.


Why are transplanted hairs so thin?

A hair transplant is a very stressful process, so much so that we would not want any of our patients to experience it more than once. During, before, and after the surgery has already finished, patients experience heavy physical and mental stress. This, in return, causes your body to react negatively and often causes your transplanted hair and your existing ones to get thinner over time due to excessive shedding. We call this experience shock loss. It is a natural process that heals itself over time, usually. However, sometimes it is possible to experience shock loss at a level that may cause permanent hair loss in other parts of your scalp or cause your hair transplant to fail in the long term, which means losing most of your transplanted hair. Therefore, we highly suggest using supplement medications, such as Minoxidil or Finasteride, before and after the surgery to compensate for or eliminate this phase.


What are the negative effects of Minoxidil?

As with every beneficial supplement medication, Minoxidil too has the potential to create some risks or side effects. These potential adverse effects are infrequent but still possible. They include but are not limited to sensitivity around the scalp, irritation, redness, or burning around the applied area(s), dry skin on the applied area(s), flaky skin on the whole of the scalp, and minor headaches. These effects may seem like heavy burdens on the patients. However, it should be noted that the chances of experiencing them are extremely rare, usually confused with the normal process of shock losses that hair transplants create. Besides, they are always temporary as they either heal over time or stop existing when you stop using the medication.

Dr. Utkan Kiziltac

Utkan Kızıltaç, MD

Chief Physician and Dermatologist Hair Transplant Surgeon of UnitedCare, a dermatology clinic helping patients become the best version of themselves.

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