In contrast with older hair transplant techniques, which left patients with a long, linear incision and painful wound after surgery, today’s advanced follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair restoration surgeries do not involve painful incisions, stitches, staples or scars. However, your recovery will involve taking excellent care of tiny hair graft sites, and preventing damage or infection to these sites is crucial in the immediate post-procedure healing phase. Here is our comprehensive guide to what to expect as you recover from a hair transplant surgery.
The Early Stages Are the Most Important
The first week to 10 days after your surgery is the most critical time for newly transplanted follicles to take root and thrive, and during this time, you won’t want to disturb your grafts in any way. Though your micro-incisions are tiny and hard to see, until they are totally healed, they provide the potential for an infection to develop. Gentle care is essential.
You will be able to take a shower as soon as the next day, as long as you avoid direct, forceful water pressure on your scalp. Rubbing, brushing and shampooing need to wait until after that delicate first phase. Don’t worry – soon, you will be able to wash, style and run your fingers through your natural, healthy, growing hair.
Minor swelling of the scalp and heightened skin sensitivity are normal within the first few days after a hair transplant surgery. If you happen to have overly sensitive skin or a history of skin allergies, keep a close eye out for rashes, increased skin sensitivity or redness, and report any concerns to Dr. Jones immediately.
When Can You Return to Work After Getting Hair Restoration?
Since FUE is a minimally invasive procedure, you could technically expect to go back to work a day or two after your surgery, if your job doesn’t require heavy lifting. Many people schedule their procedure on a Thursday or Friday and return to their job the following Monday.
However, it’s up to you to decide how long to wait before going back to work. For most patients, the biggest factor is how discreet they wish to keep their recovery process. Four major side effects are present in the first week to 10 days after hair restoration surgery, and you might choose to wait until these resolve themselves before returning to the workplace.
Four Things to Look for Immediately After a Hair Transplant
In the first week to 10 days following your hair transplant, here’s what to expect as you begin your recovery process at home. Dr. Jones will provide you with detailed post-surgical instructions, which you will need to follow carefully for maximum results.
1. Discomfort at the Recipient and Donor Sites
As with any surgical procedure, it’s common for patients to experience overall pain for the first few days following a transplant, primarily due to a feeling of tightness in your scalp. However, this should be mild enough to manage with over-the-counter pain medication.
Intermittent bleeding at the donor and recipient sites may continue for the first week after your surgery, though it should not be a constant flow. If you experience bleeding, apply three to five minutes of light pressure with a damp washcloth. If you are concerned about an unusual amount of bleeding or discharge, please call us at the Toronto Hair Transplant Centre.
Minor swelling is another very common side effect of a transplant. To reduce swelling, apply cold compresses, sleep with your head elevated and avoid strenuous exercise and activities that involve putting stress or strain on your body. Plan on taking it easy for the first three weeks or so after your hair transplant procedure.
Once the bleeding and swelling wane, the next phase of the healing process involves the formation of small scabs around the individual implant grafts. Do not pick or scratch at your scabs, as doing so can prevent your grafts from taking root. Wait for them to fall off on their own.
The FUE Transplant and Regrowth Timeline
By the end of the first week or week and a half, discomfort, swelling, bleeding and scabbing should all resolve themselves, leaving you with short, crew-cut-style hair. Then, you can look forward to the full timeline of recovery and hair growth as follows.
Two to Three Weeks After Surgery
Within two to three weeks of undergoing a hair transplant with FUE, you can expect the newly transplanted hair to shed. This is normal and nothing to be worried about; it’s part of the natural phase of hair growth. Though the hair falls out, the follicle itself remains healthy, and will cycle back into a growth phase in several weeks.
Months Two to Three
At this phase, the transplanted hair will remain in a normal resting phase. By this point, FUE patients typically look like they did before undergoing their surgery. Again, this is typical. You should continue to carefully follow all post-operative instructions and attend follow-up visits as scheduled with Dr. Jones.
Growth and Recovery by Month Four
By the end of four months after your hair restoration procedure, you should start noticing new hair growing from the transplanted follicles. However, the new hair growth may emerge somewhat sooner for some patients, since healing times and experiences can vary.
At this stage, the new hair growth may be fine and thin, which does not indicate the long-term outcomes of FUE.
Months Eight to Nine
By the time you reach the nine-month mark, you should have noticeably longer, thicker hair growing in that you’ll be able to style however you choose. As always, attend follow-up visits with Dr. Jones on schedule.
FUE Results by the End of One Year
By the one-year anniversary after your surgery, your transplant process will largely be complete in terms of growth, thickness and density. Most of your follicles should be growing healthy hair at this point. Around the one-year mark is the time when many hair transplant patients who want to achieve even greater coverage can begin to evaluate whether they are good candidates for a follow-up surgery.
Get the Healthy Head of Hair You’ve Always Wanted
An FUE hair transplant not only produces natural-looking results, but the recovery process is also relatively straightforward to manage. Having clear expectations ahead of time can ensure you don’t get overly concerned when your newly transplanted hairs begin to fall out, or when you don’t immediately see the thick, vibrant hair growth you were hoping to achieve.
Toronto-based Dr. Robert Jones is one of the first surgeons in North America to specialize in FUE for hair loss. Having amassed hours of experience personally performing every surgery, he has developed a reputation as one of the world’s most in-demand hair restoration surgeons. To explore more about your hair transplant options, contact the Toronto Hair Transplant Centre to schedule a private consultation with Dr. Jones today.
What To Expect After a Hair Transplant
Hair transplants are an expensive and a serious commitment. You want to be sure that you take great care of yourself after your surgery and it’s important that you follow post-operative instructions to ensure optimal healing and growth of your newly transplanted hairs.
The next morning after your procedure, remove your headband, shower, and shampoo your scalp 3 times. For the remainder of the week after your procedure, shower and shampoo (very gently) twice a day.
10 Days after your procedure the grafts are considered permanent, so you can resume normal shampooing and hair care.
Avoid taking blood thinning medications like aspirin for a few days before the surgery, and avoid alcohol for a minimum of 3 days after your procedure, to allow sufficient healing time.
Smoking, like alcohol, can limit your body’s ability to heal after any medical procedure, so its best to abstain from cigarettes for at least 2 weeks (before and) after your hair transplant.
Wear a hat when in strong sunlight. Two weeks following your procedure you are encouraged to use sunscreen with 30 or higher SPF.
Three weeks after your hair transplant, you can get a haircut. Four weeks after your hair transplant, you can dye your hair.
When showering, gently clean the transplanted area . FUE grafts are made to fit snugly into the recipient sites and will not dislodge in the shower. You must be very gentle for the first week after your surgery. Normal shampooing, brushing, and hair care can be resumed ten days post-op. You can also have a haircut at this point, if you’d like.
Your newly transplanted hair begins to grow at around 10 weeks. In most cases, it will be fully grown within a year.
In the first few months following your surgery there may be some shedding of your original hair so that the transplanted area may temporarily appear slightly thinner. This is a phenomenon that will self-correct when the new hair begins to grow. It should not be a cause for concern.