If you’ve ever considered getting a hair transplant procedure, it’s likely that you’ve also wondered what the recovery process might look like. How long does hair transplant recovery take? Will the procedure be painful? Will I be left with a big scar in the back of my head?
Given the transformative nature of a hair transplant procedure, many assume that it is a major, invasive surgery. So, you may be surprised to learn that hair transplants are actually a fairly painless and straightforward procedure which is minimally invasive and thus associated with little down time. Within a day or two, most people who receive a hair transplant are able to return to their normal schedule, with their new hair follicles ready to grow.
To help you understand what the recovery process might look like, we’ve broken down a few common questions about the days following a hair transplant procedure.
Both FUE and FUT hair transplants are outpatient procedures, meaning you can expect to return home the same day of your transplant. You’ll want to take it easy in the day or two following the procedure—consider it the perfect time to work through your Netflix queue! Luckily, though, FUE does not involve stitches, resulting in absolutely minimal down time (unlike FUT, a.k.a. the strip method). You should be able to return to most normal activities, including work, in about 3 days.
While it may be tempting to run your fingers through your new hairline, you’ll want to carefully avoid touching the grafts in the days following your procedure. Doing so can dislodge the newly implanted grafts, ultimately altering the results of the procedure. After five days, you can gently touch your transplanted hair as needed.
After your procedure, you should wait at least 48 hours before washing your hair. Body showers are perfectly fine after 24 hours, but you’ll want to avoid getting your scalp wet during the first five days of recovery. We actually recommend following a strict 48-hours-between-washes rule for your normal, everyday life. In general, washing your hair too often can strip your scalp of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy.
Once you start washing your hair after surgery, you’ll want to avoid touching the transplants altogether for 5 days. Scrubbing too aggressively or exposing your scalp to intense water pressure can dislodge the newly implanted grafts. To play it safe when you shampoo in the shower, we recommend trying to use a cup to gently pour water on your head instead of standing directly under the shower head. Within a week, you can return to shampooing as usual.
After your procedure, you may experience a post-transplant phenomenon known as “shock loss.” which is extremely uncommon. Our team has seen this in less than 0.1% of patients. In every case, the hair returned in less than 6 months and patients looked better than before.
Essentially, in the weeks following the procedure, native hair that was miniaturized to begin with falls out as result of the trauma the scalp endured during surgery. While this may seem concerning, again, the risk is extremely small. At Keeps Hair Restoration, our team does everything possible to minimize the risk of shock loss by wearing magnification, minimizing epinephrine usage, using extremely sharp blades, and also recommending patients use minoxidil pre and post-procedure.
While it may feel alarming to see hair loss after undergoing the transplant, in certain patients it will be an unavoidable part of the recovery and hair regrowth process. However, rest assured that this is generally considered a temporary phase that should clear up within a few weeks.
After your procedure, your physician will recommend that you refrain from strenuous physical activity for about two weeks. While you may be itching to hit the gym, this guidance is important to follow, as exercise can have a detrimental effect on your recovery. Beyond the risk of dislodging your newly transplanted hair grafts, exercise typically causes sweat, which can irritate the scalp and raise your blood pressure.
We know that a two week break from exercise can feel like a lifetime, especially if you are a fitness enthusiast. Luckily, you can start back with light exercise—like walking and riding your bike— after a week of your procedure, as long as it doesn’t cause you to break a sweat! You should be clear to return to your normal workout routine after 14 days, per clearance from your physician.
Whether or not you’ll need a follow-up procedure depends on your personal hair loss experience and regrowth goals. If you are looking to replace a significant patch of thinning or balding hair, your doctor may recommend breaking the procedure into multiple sessions. According to Keeps Hair Restoration’s Medical Director, Dr. Farhan Contractor, it’s not uncommon for patients to want a second procedure simply to add more density or cover another area. He recommends waiting a minimum of 6 months before performing a procedure in a different part of your scalp or a minimum of 9 months if returning to a previously transplanted region (e.g. to add more density).
While restoration procedures offer permanent results, some individuals may require touch-up procedures if they continue to experience loss of native hair and to maintain their desired results over time. After a procedure with Keeps Hair Restoration, Keeps supports you with a post-procedure treatment plan, designed to support long-term results and reduce the need for touch up work.
Knowing how important it is to rest after surgery, you’re likely interested in learning how you can properly (and safely) catch some z’s during recovery. For 3 days following your surgery, you should sleep with your head slightly elevated, ideally a 45 degree angle. No need to pull out your hand dandy protractor, just follow Dr. Contractor’s advice: “prop yourself up with a few pillows and keep your head above your heart. An elevated position will prevent swelling on the scalp as you begin recovery. If you have a recliner, it’s probably the best place for you to rest your head for a few days.”
Though the procedure itself is considered relatively painless, it’s normal to experience some soreness and discomfort at the transplant site for roughly 24 hours after the procedure. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen are more than enough to help manage any pain and ease potential swelling. Your doctor will also prescribe an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory medication to help ensure a successful and easy recovery.
Conclusion points: A hair restoration procedure by FUE offers a permanent, long-term solution to hair loss. Luckily, the procedure itself consistently produces stunning results while being considered relatively painless and easy to recover from. While you may have to follow specific aftercare instructions from your physician depending on your lifestyle, you can generally return to your normal routine within a few days of your procedure.
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The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
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