I was wondering how long can you have a hair follicle outside the body before it dies? I had surgery that lasted 10 hours and I am worried because I saw my grafts sitting in a clear solution for over three hours. Is this normal?
A freshly extracted hair follicle or hair graft can survive outside the body for as long as 6 plus hours. It is very fragile and if mishandled it may desiccate and “die” in as little as a minute. A harvested graft must be hydrated, kept moist, and cooled as soon as it leaves the body. Cooling slows down the metabolism process. If your grafts were not cooled, it may be an issue!
It all comes down to the experience and expertise of the surgeon and staff. With poor coordination, and standardization the surgery may be failure even before it has a chance to be implanted.
Some doctors use special solutions and precise temperatures to keep the grafts alive longer. However, this DOES NOT guarantee that the grafts will go on to survive the implantation process! More importantly there have been recent concerns that these new “solutions” to maximize the graft survivability may actually do harm than good. Often times doctors may advocate PRP but these solutions also have not been proven by randomized controlled scientific studies.
The implantation process can also dry up the grafts and harm the grafts if mismanaged by an inexperienced staff. In other words, cooling or preserving the harvested grafts would all be for nothing, if the team cannot transfer it from the petri dish back to the recipient site with care and expertise.
This is one of the many reasons that hair transplant surgery is not a standard or a guaranteed process. In other words, shopping for “cheap” surgeries may sacrifice these critical quality control issues.