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 excision (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 is 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 your doctor 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. We 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 their 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 your doctor.
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 your doctor 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 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.