It is said that most fears have no real foundation, but a fear is as real to those who face it and what is interesting is that fear can be of anything. A person can fear blood and there are those who fear certain animals and each fear has a name as well. One such fear happens to be trypophobia – this is a fear of small holes, tiny puncture marks and a cluster of holes together. So, whether they see a honeycomb or a lotus flower pod, it could instigate a sense of fear or discomfort. This is why hair transplant trypophobia is real too, because after all, when puncture marks are made for the harvesting and placement of the grafts, they can also lead to the same mental discomfort.
Let’s start with what is trypophobia and how it associates with hair transplant:
The word trypophobia comes from two words that find its origin in ancient Greek language – trypos, which refer to drilling or punching holes and phobos means fear. The term refers to an often irrational fear of any irregular patterns or bumps or cluster of holes. And while this condition is yet to be classified as a fear, it is considered more a discomfort. During a follicular unit extraction procedure, several holes are punctured into the scalp and this can create the same sense of discomfort – during the procedure, small holes are created due to the extraction of hair follicles and these holes are generally very close to each other and this could lead to FUE hair transplant trypophobia.
Moving onto what all can trigger trypophobia:
In most cases, the trigger for trypophobia is seeing something that has a lot of holes, but for most people, the possibility of seeing these holes is less, because they will be on the back of the head. However, for some people, touching the holes can also be a tigger. It is believed that the fear of holes emerges from a latent human response to survive since the holes often trigger a response of poison or the reaction of being attacked by an animal. In another study, it was shown that the mental sensation that often arises on seeing these clusters of holes, is associated with ectoparasites and the pathogens that are transmitted through the skin.
Who can be affected and how is the diagnosis done:
Given that the research into trypophobia is still slightly limited, there is no real information on who can be affected and the answer to is trypophobia common still remains slightly vague. However, it is most often associated with mental health. Those who already suffer from any mental health issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression or anxiety, could be more prone to the same. There are also studies that the condition could be based on observational learning – so, if there is someone in the family who has the fear, there is a chance that others could see that and imbibe the same fear.
Now, because trypophobia is not a medically recognised disorder, there is no actual test to diagnose the condition, but there are several tests that can be found online to gauge the condition. Or alternately, you could meet with a mental health expert and find out whether you are really affected by this condition. Should you be ‘diagnosed’ with trypophobia, a mental health professional will be able to assist you with methods on how to tackle the condition and combat the symptoms.
What are the most common symptoms of hair transplant trypophobia:
While in most people, the primary symptom of trypophobia is simple in nature – they are disgusted by the sight of anything in clusters or multiple holes or punches in a group, but in the more severe cases, people could have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, an increase in heart rate and breathing, sweating and even panic attacks. If you have noticed any such symptoms in yourself or someone you know, you would want to meet with an expert and get a proper diagnosis for the same.
How does trypophobia connect with hair transplants:
Now, there are those who would not associate a condition like male pattern hair loss with something like trypophobia, but it is – during a hair transplant, several circular holes and punch like incisions are made, in particular with FUE method. These incisions are made to not only extract hair grafts, but also to implant and the sight of these holes could trigger the symptoms of trypophobia. In a typical FUE procedure, a surgeon will use a micro-punch tool, that will punch a hole and extract the hair follicles and these will leave tiny holes all over the scalp and this leads to a pattern on the scalp, which could be disturbing for a lot of people. Moreover, there could be scars left post procedure, which will also be reminiscent of the cluster like patterns. This condition, although not very common can happen and is labelled as FUE hair transplant trypophobia.
What is interesting to note is that this fear does not get triggered if the procedure is an FUT or a follicular unit transplant, where the scar is linear. Because a strip of hair is removed from the donor site and all the extraction is done outside the body, there are no clusters of holes on the body. This is known to not cause any discomfort or uneasiness and is often suggested to people suffering from trypophobia.
Can trypophobia be treated:
The very first thing that needs to be understood is that the scars and the holes are not permanent – in order to overcome trypophobia, it is imperative that the person understand that the scars will all heal in a matter of a few weeks and once the hair grows in, those scars will all be hidden. And although it might be a little difficult initially, it will all disappear with time – the scars will heal and your scalp will go back to looking natural.
Then there are other ways of treating trypophobia too and these include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy – Commonly known as CBT, this is a therapy procedure that works at recognising what contributes to your phobia and identifying methods of treating it. This is an extremely effective method for treating trypophobia, especially when associated with hair transplants. In general, this therapy starts a few months before the actual transplant because your mind needs to be prepared.
- Relaxation – Whether your mental health expert chooses music or art therapy, whether they suggest aromatherapy or deep breathing techniques, there are several methods to keep your mind off of the holes. Once your mind is distracted from the trypophobia, you should feel a lot more prepared.
- Medications – If all else fails, there is a chance that your doctor might prescribe you some medications to help you relax; these could include anti-anxiety medications as well as relaxants.
What else can you do:
There are actually several easy ways to treat trypophobia associated with FUE transplant and many of those are directly connected with speeding up the recovery process.
- It is imperative that you get your procedure done through a reputed surgeon and at a certified and licensed clinic, which will ensure that there are next to no problems with your transplant.
- Once you are done with your procedure, you will be given a set of instructions, which will include several dos and don’ts to speed up the healing process – should you follow all of them, you should see the healing happen much faster.
- As long as the doctor does not overharvest and ensures that none of the grafts or the donor and recipient sites are damaged, the healing should happen fast.
- You will be asked to drink plenty of water to keep your scalp and body hydrated, avoid smoking and over consumption of alcohol and timely consumption of meals and medicines – follow all these instructions and you should see the healing happen on time.
- You need to convince yourself that after getting the transplant, you will look better and the holes are only a temporary side effect, leading to a ‘greater good’.
While trypophobia is a genuine problem and could lead to major problems for those who suffer from it, there is no reason why they should not be able to get a transplant done. It would be wise to talk to a doctor – both a transplant surgeon as well as a mental health expert and choose the most effective path for themselves.