So you’ve decided to get a hair transplant? Congratulations! Getting a hair transplant is such a life-changing decision. But keep in mind that there’s a lot to consider after surgery.
The period after a hair transplant surgery impacts the results and your overall health. That’s why you should ensure you’re prepared for the long road ahead.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about hair transplant recovery and aftercare. We’ll cover everything from what to expect in the days after your procedure to taking care of your new hairline and protecting your investment.
Like any other surgery, the recovery after a hair transplant may be overwhelming. Even though the procedure is pretty simple and takes only a few hours, the recovery might be tricky.
Proper recovery is also essential for successful outcomes. That’s why you need to directly follow your doctor’s instructions and learn more about what to do and what to avoid after surgery.
It’s worth noting that recovery is tailored for each patient depending on his age, hairline, gender, and more.
There are some general tips that everyone needs to follow after a hair transplant, though. But for how long?
Recovery time depends on the type of hair transplant, whether it’s FUT or FUE. However, in most cases, patients take around 10 to 14 days to recover from a hair transplant surgery fully. After surgery, it’s normal to feel that your scalp is tender, red, and swollen.
These symptoms should resolve within 14 days.
After a hair transplant, it usually takes around 2-3 months for new follicles to develop and grow new hair.
New hair is often harsh and uneven. However, after 10-12 months, your new hair should be fully grown. Here’s the timeline of hair transplant aftercare.
Following your hair transplant surgery, you might feel mild discomfort around the transplanted area. However, it’s not a big concern; some people return to work the next day.
We recommend you take at least 2-3 days off after surgery. Resting boosts your recovery and allows your skin and scalp to heal.
If you feel pain or swelling on your scalp, you can take OTC medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol to alleviate the pain. To speed up the healing process, apply a saline spray to your scalp to prevent scabbing and protect incisions from infections.
Furthermore, you should avoid activities that could damage your scalp. Those include vigorous exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, and swimming after hair transplant.
Since the scalp is sensitive after surgery, you should be careful when combing your hair and only do it while it’s wet. That’s because friction might cause bleeding and irritation to the affected areas, which delays the full recovery.
After the first 3-4 days, your scalp should be healed, and you can go back to washing your hair.
Symptoms like redness, itching, and swelling of the scalp should be gone. However, grafts usually form crusts that you should remove carefully. You can get rid of crusts by soaking them and gently rubbing them off with your finger.
At this time, it’s better to avoid using shampoos and focus on just removing the crusts. You should also stay clear from physical exercise to ensure that all hair follicles heal well.
This is a critical period for most patients. Why? Because the transplanted hair begins to fall off as the follicles enter a dormant state. Not to worry; this is normal during the recovery process.
What happens is that only the hair shaft falls off while the follicles and bulbs remain intact. After that, the follicles begin to grow new hair again. In some cases, shedding doesn’t occur. Instead, the shed hair remains on the scalp until new hair pushes it to fall off.
You can use a mild shampoo to wash your hair during this period. You should let your hair dry on its own or use a gentle towel to gently pat down the grafts without rubbing.
During this period, the follicles remain in a resting state, meaning that patients might look just like they did before surgery. But it’s just a matter of a few months before new dense hair grows again.
Note that the length of the resting phase varies among patients, so stay patient and follow up with your doctor to monitor how the recovery process is going.
On the bright side, you can return to your hair routine during this period. You can also go back to your normal activities before surgery, such as exercising and swimming.
After 3 months, your hair should start growing normally again. The new hair will usually be delicate, short, and transparent. Hair growth is also uneven, you might see hair growing at different rates on each side of your head.
That’s because not all the hairs grow simultaneously, instead, some are growing, and others may be resting or shedding.
You shouldn’t be concerned about uneven hair growth or any patches on your scalp either.
Make sure you schedule appointments with your doctor too. This way he can monitor the regrowth and ensure there’s nothing unusual about the healing process.
By the 10th month, you should notice that most of your hair follicles have fully grown to give you the natural long-anticipated look.
However, it’s worth noting that not all patients see the full results after 12 months. Patients who undergo surgery in the crown or mid-scalp region might take up to 18 months to get their desired results. That’s because hair growth in these areas is relatively slow.
Once the hair transplant procedure is complete, your doctor will give you post-op hair transplant instructions. You’ll need to follow these instructions closely to ensure a successful recovery.
Here are some general tips to help you with your aftercare:
- Sleep with your head elevated using a soft pillow for 7-10 days after surgery.
- Take medications when prescribed.
- Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
- Wash your hair gently after the 3rd day.
- Smoke or drink alcohol during recovery.
- Wear tight hats or headgear for at least 3 weeks.
- Expose the recipient area to direct sunlight for a few weeks after surgery.
- Apply any lotions, sprays, gels, or oils to the scalp before consulting your doctor.
- Engage in any strenuous activity or physical labor.
- Sleep on your stomach or rub your hair against pillows.
You should wait at least 24 hours after surgery to wash your hair for the first time. After that, you can wash your hair 2-3 times a week, using a mild shampoo.
Patients who undergo FUE surgery can get back to exercise after 2 weeks. That said, it would be best to start with gentle exercises and avoid vigorous ones.
Regarding patients who undergo FUT surgery, on the other hand, it’s recommended to stay away from vigorous exercise for at least a month after surgery.
Yes, you should avoid direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks following your hair transplant. The transplanted skin can’t protect itself against direct sunlight. Therefore, direct exposure to sunlight damages the treated skin and affects deeper tissues.
It’s essential to avoid sexual intercourse for at least one week after a hair transplant surgery. That’s because the transplanted hair follicles can be easily damaged when exposed to sweat.
We recommend shaving your hair 1 or 2 months after a hair transplant. Shaving anytime sooner can damage your transplanted hair follicles.
You can start combing your hair and use styling products two weeks after surgery. Remember to be cautious and gentle with your scalp for the first 3 weeks after surgery.
Following a hair transplant, it would be best to sleep with your head elevated. Use only one pillow to prevent your head from turning and damaging the grafts at night.