HIV Or Hepatitis C

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The debate on whether or not hair transplantation can be done in patients with certain diseases where the infection occurs via blood, such as HIV or hepatitis C, has developed for several years.

More than Hepatitis C, being HIV positive still represents a taboo for many people, including doctors and surgeons, and the exposure to performing surgery like a hair transplant can be a factor considered as dangerous by many.

But from a surgeon’s point of view, there are actually no real reasons for not doing the surgery while the patient is in the controlled phase of the disease. Apart from the fear of becoming infected, the concern lies in operating a patient with an immune deficiency, or a general state that is not completely normal.

For example, a simple secondary surgery infection is a mild complication for healthy patients, but it could prove fairly severe for patients with HIV or hepatitis C, risking to create a much worse clinical picture than that developed in patients which are not affected by these viruses.

The hair transplant specialists who are in favour of this procedure in sick patients are based on the assertion that HIV is no longer the same as twenty years ago. By now, people with HIV are able to live with proper care for several years. The same applies to patients with hepatitis C.

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Pro-transplant specialists also advise to conduct blood tests before hair transplantation, especially if HIV or hepatitis C are suspected. This information is essential in the event that one of the medical team’s components  gets wounded with an instrument which has been in contact with the patient’s blood. In this case, immediate measures can be taken to minimize the possibility of infection. There are antiretroviral treatments today which can be implemented immediately after coming into contact with infected blood.

One of the negative aspects of performing blood tests before surgery is that sometimes these tests don’t turn positive before a few months. This aspect could concerning for the specialists team, as there will be no certainty on whether if the patient is infected or not in those months.

Whether blood tests are required before surgery or not, all medical teams operate the same way and follow strict rules, as if patients had one of these two viruses:

  • When using a sharp instrument, only the hands of the specialist who uses it can work over the patient, no one else.
  • All sharp instruments are kept away from the working area, on the basin, and with all tips protected.
  • Gauzes will not rest on the basin, as they could cover a sharp instrument.
  • Tools that are no longer to be used are disposed of.
  • Eyes, nose, mouth and skin should be covered throughout the operation, in case of blood or other fluids spurts.

However, there are certain important facts to be considered if a surgery is performed in patients with HIV or hepatitis C:

  • Easy infections through the use of not properly sterilized sharp instruments or during surgery.
  • Working with a patient with such problems means putting other healthy patients and the team of doctors and specialized assistants at risk.
  • In some cases, the immune status of these patients is compromised or weak, increasing the risk of complications and unfavourable patient outcomes.

With all these issues in mind, hair transplantation in patients with HIV or hepatitis C can be achieved by following strict rules and without disrespecting the patient.

Not all hair transplant clinics currently perform this surgical procedure in patients with HIV or hepatitis C in Turkey. Many recommend patients to finish their treatment and then proceed with hair transplantation.

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