The recovery time after a hair transplant can vary depending on the specific procedure (e.g., FUT or FUE) and the individual patient. The following provides a general overview of what you can expect.
What to expect after surgery
After surgery, you can return home the same day. You should arrange for someone else to drive you home from the surgical facility in case the anesthesia has not fully worn off.
For the first few days following surgery, you should take it easy and rest. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions closely.
You may experience some swelling and bruising, but these are typically temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
The length of your recovery will depend on the specific hair transplant technique, but most patients are back to work and other daily activities within a week. Strenuous activities and exercise should still be avoided.
You may experience itching in the donor or transplant areas. Your doctor may provide a topical ointment to reduce itching.
Temporary numbness or tingling may occur as a result of cutting nerve endings in the skin.
During the first few weeks, some of the transplanted hair may start to shed. This is a normal part of the process and doesn’t mean the grafts have failed.
Tips to ensure a smooth recovery
- Avoid tugging or pulling on the hair as this may irritate the scalp as it heals. The hair follicles are extremely sensitive when initially transplanted and may be pulled out easily. If the graft is lost, there will be some bleeding at the site of the lost graft. If bleeding occurs, place firm pressure on the area using a clean towel for at least 20 minutes.
- If scabs form, do not pick at them as this can cause permanent damage to the hair follicles. Cysts, pimples, or ingrown hairs may also appear in the transplantation area. These can form up to a month after surgery as new hairs break through the skin. These tend to resolve on their own in a few days and do not require treatment.
- Sleep with your head and neck elevated and avoid activities that may disrupt the healing of the hair follicles. This includes avoiding brushing or styling your hair during this time. Do not dye your hair for at least 1 month, and do not use Rogaine or other hair regrowth creams for at least 1 week as they may cause severe irritation during this time. Your doctor may also ask you to avoid washing your hair for up to 2 weeks.
- Avoid smoking during recovery, as this can contribute to poor wound healing and may increase the chance of infection or scarring.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Wear a hat to protect your scalp from sunlight for at least 3 months.
Results & growth timeline
Below is a general time-frame, although individual results will vary.
- First Few Days: You may experience some discomfort and soreness.
- First Week: Sleep with your head propped up on a pillow, and avoid pull-over shirts to prevent trauma to the transplants.
- First 2 Weeks: Experience “shock loss” where all transplanted hair falls out due to the surgery’s trauma. Most recipient site scabbing is resolved. Sutures or staples are removed (for FUT procedures).
- First 3 Months: Grafts enter the “telogen” phase of growth, which is the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, with no new growth occurring.
- After Three Months: Grafts enter the “anagen” phase of growth, the active growth phase of the hair follicle. New hair growth begins and continues for 2-6 years before some hairs enter a rest phase again.
- 8-12 Months: Full growth and implant results cannot be fully assessed until this point.
Learn about the cost of hair transplant surgery and various fees associated with treatment.
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