A hair transplant (also known as hair restoration surgery) can be a long-term solution to hair thinning and balding. Many people benefit from this minimally-invasive operation as it can restore hair which can improve one’s overall look and uplift self-confidence.
Many are aware that a hair transplant requires careful planning before the surgery but often do not realize that the recovery period is also a process that requires planning.
Understanding the post-procedure timeline allows you to set expectations and plan.
The question is, how long does it take to recover from a hair transplant? Will hair transplant recovery take weeks or months? This article serves as your guide on the hair transplant recovery process at our center. Remember to always check with the surgeon performing your procedure regarding the specific post-operative instructions and process for your procedure with them.
Is the hair transplant recovery process painful?
A hair transplant typically has minimal associated pain during the procedure once numbing is performed with local anesthesia. Once the local numbing wears off, you may experience discomfort which is usually mild. This discomfort usually lasts 24-48 hours after the procedure but sometimes can last longer.
The majority of our patients are able to manage any discomfort with a rotation of over-the-counter pain medications. Be sure to discuss the expected amount of pain with your surgeon based on your case and contact them after the procedure if you are experiencing pain beyond the expected discomfort.
How long does it take to recover from a hair transplant?
A hair transplant may require you to rest for at least one to two days. During this period, your doctor may advise wearing a bandage or dressing on your head. Make sure to ask your surgeon how long to keep your bandage on and regarding all other post-operative instructions.
There may be restrictions or modifications on things like showering, exercise, sun exposure, swimming, and others in the weeks after your procedure which will be reviewed in more detail below. Always check with your hair restoration surgeon regarding their specific instructions for your case.
In terms of timeline for growth, most people start to notice some growth around 4-5 months, with more growth around 6-9 months, and the full result at 12-15 months.
Hair transplant recovery timeline
The hair transplant recovery and growth timeline does not happen in just a couple of days. There will be post-procedure care in the weeks and sometimes months after your procedure. Additionally, it can take up to a year or even sometimes 15 months to see the full result of your procedure.
Here’s a detailed timeline of what to expect after your procedure and when to expect to see the transplant’s full effect.
The first week after surgery
In the days after surgery, it is normal for the transplanted grafts to sit slightly above the surrounding skin. In the days and weeks after, they should start to heal and lay more flat on the scalp. In the first few days, the grafts may have some blood around them, and often over the next few days will start to scab over.
In the first week after surgery, the grafts in the recipient area (where the hairs have been transplanted) are extremely delicate and must be managed with care. You should not touch, scratch, or rub your grafts during this time. Often your surgeon will give you a spray to be applied onto the recipient area multiple times per day to keep them moist and help with healing.
The donor area will also be healing during this time. You will often have an ointment to apply to the donor area. In the first week, it is also often common to have special instructions on how to wash your hair. This is because the pressure from a showerhead could damage or knock the grafts out of place during this time.
You may also have a bandage during this period or for a day or a few days after the procedure. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions on when to remove the bandage, how to care for the area, and any other post-operative instructions.
Eight to fourteen days after surgery
The grafts have started to heal and are more attached. The scalp may develop scabbing, both at the donor and transplanted sites. Talk to your surgeon regarding what you should do about these scabs. Some may have you let them heal on their own versus some may ask you to use your fingers to gently rub the areas to help remove the scabs.
Talk to your surgeon about when you may resume normal hair washing. Some may allow you to start washing your hair as early as eight days after the procedure while others may ask you to wait longer depending on your case. Continue to follow any other post-operative instructions you were given.
Weeks to three months after surgery
In the weeks to months after your procedure, you may have some redness around the grafts that should continue to fade with time. If you are unsure if you are healing as expected, then make sure to contact your surgeon. If you will be outside, continue to wear a hat if possible to minimize any discoloration or redness around the grafts.
It can be normal for the transplanted hairs to shed as well as some of the surrounding native hairs in the recipient areas to shed during this period. The shedding is common and is not something to be concerned about as it is part of the process.
Four to nine months after surgery
During this process much of the healing is complete and some of the hair starts to grow. Typically you will see more hair growth each month during this period steadily.
12 to 15 months after surgery
At about one year, you should start to see the full result of your procedure in terms of your hair density. Keep in mind it can take up to 12-15 months to see the full result of your procedure, so be patient as your hair is growing. Also, keep this in mind if you are considering a second procedure.
Our Greater Seattle hair restoration expert can discuss a more detailed timeline and what to expect after the procedure in your case depending on your type of procedure. Call us today to book a consultation.
What are the restrictions after a hair transplant?
You may have to wait a few weeks after your procedure to return to some of your daily activities. Ensure strict adherence to post-procedure protocols to obtain the best hair transplant results.
These are some things you need to avoid during the hair transplant healing process:
- Swimming. Submerging your head underwater whether, in the pool, ocean, lake or other body of water can potentially dislodge or damaged grafts. Often it is advised to avoid swimming for at least 1-2 weeks after your procedure but always check with your surgeon regarding recommendations for your case.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption can increase bleeding and oozing after the procedure. Thus many surgeons recommend avoiding alcohol in the days to weeks before and after your procedure. Check with your surgeon regarding the details of your case.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoking slows down blood flow which is crucial in hair growth. Smoking can also slow down wound healing increasing the chance of complications such as increased visibility of scar tissue and infection. Avoiding smoking in the weeks before and after your procedure is advised to improve wound healing and blood flow. Check with your surgeon regarding their requirements for the timing of when to avoid smoking before and after your procedure.
- High-intensity exercise. Exercise can cause sweating which irritates the scalp. Additionally, exercise can increase the chance of dislodging grafts or sutures coming apart if you have a procedure with stitches. Check with your surgeon when you can resume what forms of exercise depending on your type of procedure and case.
When can I touch my transplanted hair?
On regular days, people tend to touch their hair frequently throughout the day, often without realizing it. However, you must avoid touching the grafts for the first week if you just underwent a hair transplant unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.
Frequent touching can damage or remove the implanted grafts, which can affect the outcome of the transplant.
You can often only touch your new hair after five to seven days. Confirm the details of your specific procedure with your hair restoration surgeon.
When can I shower after a hair transplant procedure?
You can often take a body shower 24 hours after your procedure but be careful not to wet your scalp. Avoid touching your grafts right after your procedure as above.
Some surgeons will have you wait a number of days before washing your scalp. Others may have you use a modified hair wash technique for a week or a few weeks after the procedure to wash the grafts without damaging them. Some examples of a modified hair wash technique include using a bowl or cup to pour water over the scalp. Either way, you should avoid placing your grafts under the showerhead as the pressure could damage or dislodge the grafts affecting the results of your procedure.
Make sure to follow the specific instructions of your hair restoration surgeon based on your specific case and type of procedure.
Our hair experts at Root Hair Institute will provide detailed aftercare instructions, including proper washing of your hair during recovery. Contact us to learn more about our hair transplant services.
How should I sleep after my surgery?
It is important to try to rest and let your body recuperate after you undergo a procedure. However, you do not want to roll over onto your side or stomach and risk damaging or bumping out your newly placed grafts. Thus, many surgeons recommend sleeping on your back to avoid damaging the grafts. Some people will choose to sleep in a recliner or to place pillows on their sides to keep them from rolling onto their sides or front.
Additionally, while sleeping your surgeon may recommend that you prop up your head with multiple pillows to keep your head elevated for days or up to a week after the procedure to minimize the degree of swelling of your face including your forehead or temples after the procedure. There is often fluid that is injected during the procedure that you want to drain back through the back of your neck rather than through the front into your face. Discuss the best way to sleep with your surgeon based on your individual case and body.
Will I experience any hair loss during recovery?
After the surgery, you may see hairs falling out for the next couple of weeks or months. This can include both the transplanted hairs as well as the native surrounding hair in the recipient area. It is a phenomenon called shock loss, a process where your native hair temporarily falls out due to the stress on the hair during the procedure. If this occurs, it is temporary and the native hair should grow back.
Our hair restoration surgeons at Root Hair Institute can explain the natural process of shock loss before growth after your transplant. Talk to us to book a consultation.
How soon after my surgery can I exercise?
A hair transplant is a medical procedure, and there are typically restrictions on exercise in the weeks after your procedure. Often exercise is limited for 1-2 weeks after the procedure. The exact restrictions on exercise will depend on your type of procedure and case, so make sure to discuss exercise restrictions with your hair restoration surgeon.
When can you go back to work after a hair transplant?
Recovery is a vital part of the hair transplant procedure. Your doctor will advise how long it takes to recover from the hair transplant. When you can go back to work will depend on the type of work you do and your procedure, so discuss your work situation with your hair restoration surgeon to determine when you can safely return to work.
Some patients choose to take leave or vacation to allow rest, relaxation, and recovery after their procedures without worrying about work. Other patients decide to work as soon as they are cleared to. In some cases, you may be allowed to go back to work as early as the day after your procedure. However, keep in mind that you may be tired the day after your procedure so you may want to consider taking at least one day off of work following your procedure to allow you to rest.
Another consideration in returning to work for some people is if they want to try to conceal that they had a procedure done especially if their work involves meeting people in person. There may be redness or scaling that is more apparent in the first 7-10 days after the procedure. It may even be obvious for longer depending on the location and how much surrounding hair you have to cover the area. Consider this in planning your time off and discuss this with your hair restoration surgeon.
Will I need a follow-up procedure?
A follow-up procedure may be needed to increase density in areas or if there have been new areas of loss.
Depending on your type of procedure, you may have to wait six to 12 months at a minimum before undergoing another procedure to address hair in a different portion of the head.
If you want to address the same area treated with the initial procedure, you may be required to wait a minimum of 11-12 months before undergoing another procedure.
However this will depend on your case and your surgeon, so make sure to discuss this with your hair restoration surgeon.
Get the best hair transplant service in Greater Seattle
Dealing with hair loss can be a struggle. It can affect your physical appearance and for many your mental and emotional health.
Root Hair Institute’s hair restoration services provide the best long-lasting solution for many cases of hair loss or balding.
Our team of Greater Seattle board-certified dermatologists and hair restoration surgeons is committed to providing the highest level of care for the hair transplant process from workup to treatment.
We provide innovative and customized approaches depending on your needs.