A 43-year-old man died of what doctors believe to be anaphylactic shock two days after a 12-hour hair graft operation.
The Indian man, Shrawan Choudhary, had requested three times the recommended number of hairs in the graft, which took 12 hours to perform, according to local reports.
On March 8, the day after the operation, Choudhary had difficulty breathing, his throat and face began to swell. He was taken to hospital where he died the following day.
The 43-year-old ran a logistics firm in the city of Mumbai.
The doctors believed he was suffering from anaphylactic shock—an extreme allergic reaction—according to local media reports.
Dermatologists said that such a reaction is unheard of in a hair transplant, and some believe it may have been triggered by painkillers.
Unlike what is typically understood by the word “transplant,” hair transplants do not involve donations from another person.Hair transplant involves taking the skin from part of the scalp where hair is still growing and transplanting it to areas of baldness.
Police said over 9,000 hairs had been transplanted onto his head, reported some media. The recommended limit is 3,000 per operation. According to other reports, however, it is not clear whether the clinic carried out the number he requested.
The dermatologist at the clinic where Choudary had the graft told the police he had carried out the procedure for 12 hours straight, according to the Times of India.
According to the paper, the dermatologist told police he had only carried out 3,700 of the 9,000 grafts that the patient had requested.
He was given painkillers after his neck began to hurt.
Dr. Anil Garg, of the Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons, told the Times of India that it may not have been a reaction to the transplant itself that caused his death. “Other painkillers or drugs can trigger such a severe reaction. Sometimes painkillers taken on an empty stomach too can cause this.”
The hair transplant procedure involves injecting the transplant with a saline solution, which can later accumulate in the patient’s face if they sleep on their front during recovery.
Choudhary paid 500,000 rupees ($7,200) for the hair transplant.
Chaudhary’s nephew Trilok Kumar told the Times of India, “My uncle had taken the driver along and no one from the family was present as he underwent such a long surgery.”
The family will decide about any possible legal action after they have come to terms with Choudhary’s death, said Trilok.
The case had been registered as an accidental death and an inquiry has been initiated, according to reports.
Types of Hair Transplant
There are two main types of hair transplant.
FUE hair transplant involves harvesting individual hair follicles from where hair is still growing—usually the back and sides of the scalp—with a special cutting tool. Those follicles are then inserted into tiny cuts in the bald areas.
The other method, FUT, involves cutting strips of skin, complete with hair, which are then further divided into groups or single follicles, which are then inserted in the same way as FUE.
The FUE procedure takes longer but produces less scarring, which is more important for short hairstyles.
Hair grafting has become a staple of the growing health tourism industry countries like Turkey.
Many health clinics offer vacation packages to tourists wishing to undergo specific medical surgeries, generally offering a three-day hotel deal with airport transfers, sightseeing, meals, and the surgery.
The global hair transplant industry was estimated to be worth around $5 billion in 2017 and is projected to grow to an estimated $24 billion by 2024.