Can alopecia areata occur at the location of a hair transplant?

Can alopecia areata develop at the site of a hair transplant?

Alopecia areata affects 2 % of the world. It is an autoimmune hair loss condition whereby the immune system targets the hair follicle causing it to fall out. Alopecia areata can develop anywhere on the scalp - and anywhere on the body where there is hair such as eyebrows, lashes, etc. 

In previous published reports, alopecia has been documented to occur at the site of a hair transplant. However, proving there is a direct link between the two is challenging. Alopecia areata usually develops in most people without trauma or injury.

Is a link plausible for some?

It is certainly not impossible that some sort of a more direct link could exist between alopecia and injury. I have many patients with autoimmune type reactions in the donor area following hair transplantation - including alopecia areata and lichen planopilaris. It's just really difficult to prove a direct association.

This photo show "black dots" and vellus hairs that are typical of the scalp in patients with alopecia areata. The photo also shows the scar from a previous hair transplant done using follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS).

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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