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Can I Get an Infection After a Hair Transplant?

Q:

Dear Dr. Mohebi,

I had a hair transplant back on October 31st, 2009 (a Halloween treat for me) I started to notice some red boils along my transplanted area (suspected to be folliculitis) in January and I have been taking Accutane for the last month.

My general question to you is…Why did this happen? I was advised to get such a heavy drug that I feel it has changed the overall tone of my face (somewhat like getting severe dryness).

Lastly, why do you think there are a few patchy spots located in the infected area? They look like bald patches on my scalp. Do you have any suggestions or medical advice for the future?

A:

It looks like you know that pimple-like scalp lesions that develop after a hair transplant surgery are typically diagnosed as being folliculitis.

Folliculitis can typically be seen after hair transplant surgery in both the implanted and donor wound areas in the first few weeks to months after a hair transplant.

The development mechanism of folliculitis is similar to acne. It is usually due to a blockage that is found in the exit pores of the sebaceous gland (skin oil glands). The obstruction of these pores can occur following a hair transplant surgery. Sebum (skin oil) cannot be emptied to the skin surface so it begins to accumulate underneath the skin surface and the result is red or white head-like pimples.

The recovery from this condition is generally spontaneous. If too many of these lesions develop, or if there was any sign of a secondary infection (such as redness or swelling around the area), the lesions may need to be drained by your physician and a patient may occasionally be recommended to use antibiotics to deal with the lesions.

Thanks to the generous vascular supply of scalp skin, an infection occurring on the scalp skin after hair transplant surgery is extremely rare.

– MA