Healthy-looking hair is important to both men and women. To restore hair that has fallen out due to biological or environmental damage, advanced treatments are now available. Current hair transplants are safe, effective, and use the patient’s own hair for a totally natural look. But how do transplants work?
What to Expect After a Hair Transplant
Your hair transplant will be a relatively simple procedure. Since the surgery doesn’t require general anesthesia, you’ll be able to go home shortly after the procedure is complete. Here’s what you can expect during the first month after your surgery.
The First Day
Take it easy on the day of your surgery. Once you get the all-clear to leave the office, try to relax once you get back home.
Find a friend or relative to drive you home from the surgical center. Ideally, you’ll have someone stay with you overnight.
Try to keep your head elevated as much as possible once you get home. You can relax in a recliner, which should support your head at the right angle.
We’ll give you a bandana to wear home, which can help to cover up incisions or scabs on your scalp. Hold off on wearing a hat until the next day. Also, don’t shampoo your hair your first night after the surgery.
You might notice some slight bleeding at the back of your scalp on the first day. If this occurs, apply a clean gauze or cloth to the area and hold it in place with light pressure for about 10 minutes.
On the second day after your hair transplant, it’s still important to take it easy. You can start to gently wash your hair and scalp on this day.
You have the option of returning to the office to have us wash your scalp for you. If you can’t return to the office, you can wash your hair at home.
To do this, first wet your scalp in the shower using cool or warm (not hot) water. Use a bowl to pour the water over your head. Make sure you get the sides, back, and top of the scalp wet.
Shampoo the scalp and hair with a gentle or mild shampoo. Gently lather the shampoo. Pat it onto the areas of the scalp where the grafts are located, making sure you also wash the sides and back of your scalp. Rinse away the shampoo, then gently pat your scalp dry.
Repeat this process of washing your hair and scalp daily for the first five days. You can begin combing your hair again on the third day.
By the end of the first week after your hair transplant, you should be able to shower as usual. You might have some crusts remaining on the back or sides of the scalp. If that’s the case, you can rub them off.
The crusts should flake off without bleeding. If you do notice bleeding or feel any pain, stop rubbing the area and wait a few days. For the best results possible, it’s important to remove the crusts within two weeks after your transplant.
Often, people feel well enough to return to work about a week after their surgery. Your scalp might be slightly pink, but that should resolve quickly. If you have any scarring, you can wear a hat to cover it up.
You might also be able to resume some types of strenuous activity about a week after your hair transplant. Ask your surgeon for guidelines and check in about specific activities before you dive back into normal life.
Starting about one week after your surgery, the transplanted hairs will begin to fall out. Don’t panic when you see this or think that it means your surgery wasn’t successful. This is normal.
Only the strands of hair will shed. The transplanted follicles should remain in place. The shedding will likely continue over the next few weeks.
One month after your hair restoration surgery, you should more or less be back to normal. You can start having your hair cut again after two weeks. If you dye your hair, you can begin coloring it again two weeks after surgery, too.
By this point, you might still have some tingling or numbness on the sides, top, and back of the scalp. That should start to resolve at the one-month mark if it hasn’t already.
Over the course of the next year, your hair will begin to regrow. Often, regrowth begins about four months after the surgery. Hair typically grows at a rate of 1/2 inch per month.
How long it takes for the hair to grow in can vary from person to person. You might see full regrowth within one year or it might take up to 14 months for the growth to occur.
Sleeping and Activity After a Hair Transplant
It’s important to take it easy after your hair transplant and to follow your surgeon’s instructions for sleeping and any other activities. During the first few nights after surgery, keep your head elevated while you sleep. You can sleep on your back and prop yourself up with a few pillows or sleep in a recliner.
There might be some bleeding from the grafts on the sides or back of your scalp initially. You might want to put a towel down over the pillow during the first couple of nights.
Hair transplants often have a shorter recovery period than other types of plastic surgery. That said, it’s still important to hold off on some activities during the first few days after the procedure.
To keep swelling down and prevent damage to the grafts, avoid any strenuous activity for the first two days. Don’t lift objects or raise your hands above your head. You might take short walks around the block if you wish.
You can resume some types of exercise, including weight lifting, about five days after the surgery. It’s most likely okay to start swimming again after 10 days. You might want to ask your surgeon for specifics if there are other types of exercise you enjoy.
You might experience some mild discomfort after a hair transplant. We can prescribe medications for you to help you manage any pain or discomfort.
Often, we’ll prescribe pain relievers, such as prescription-strength Tylenol with codeine or oxycodone. Take the pain relievers as directed, usually one to two pills every four to six hours.
If you prefer, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, regular Tylenol, or Aleve. Take these as directed on the packaging at the earliest sign of discomfort. Don’t mix prescriptions with over-the-counter pain relievers.
You might also receive a prescription for an antibiotic. You should take it twice a day for the first three days after surgery. The antibiotic is a preventative and should help you avoid any infection.
Some people find that they have some trouble sleeping immediately after a hair transplant. If that’s the case for you, we can prescribe Ambien to help you get some sleep.
Because there is a risk of interactions or complications from some types of medications, please let us know if you’re taking anything else. We might prescribe or recommend a different medication based on the medicines or supplements you already take. We might also recommend holding off on some supplements, such as vitamin E, until a few weeks after your hair transplant.
Cleaning the Scalp
You can choose to come back to the office to have your scalp washed starting the day after your surgery and continuing through the fifth day. Another option is to wash your scalp at home, using warm water and mild shampoo.
When cleaning your scalp during the first five days after surgery, it’s important to use gentle pressure, so you don’t disrupt the grafts. Within a week, you can start showering and washing your hair as usual.
It’s not uncommon for people to develop small pimples on their scalp after a hair transplant. The pimples often form as the new hair grows in. If you see pimples, you can treat them by soaking them and applying antibiotic cream.
If the cream doesn’t help the pimples resolve after three days, it’s a good idea to come back to the surgeon for follow-up.
Complementary Products & Treatments
GraftCyte is a product made specifically for use after hair restoration surgery. It’s a product that contains copper and peptides, which help aid the healing process. GraftCyte also helps to keep the scalp moist, which improves healing.
It’s recommended that you apply GraftCyte hourly during the first three days after a hair transplant, during your waking hours. The product comes in a spray bottle and is easy to spritz over the hair.
Our practice will supply you with a bottle of GraftCyte after your surgery. If you’ve traveled for the procedure, we can give you a TSA-approved bottle to pack in a carry-on.
Some of the benefits of using GraftCyte include reduced shedding and faster hair growth after your hair transplant.
Laser Light Therapy
Laser light therapy is a proven treatment for male and female pattern baldness. Some people use laser light therapy without any other treatments. People who have had hair transplants can also enjoy the benefits of laser therapy, as it’s likely to encourage hair growth after the procedure.
The Foundation for Hair Restoration provides all hair restoration patients with laser light therapy during the first month after their transplants. You can start laser light therapy the day following your transplant after your first scalp and hair wash. After that, the therapy can continue once or twice a week.
Each laser light therapy treatment session lasts for 20 minutes. The therapy does more than just encourage hair regrowth after a transplant; it might also help to reduce future hair loss when used long-term.
Minoxidil, AKA Rogaine, is an over-the-counter, topical product that can encourage hair growth. It’s often one of the first treatments people turn to when they start losing their hair.
Minoxidil can also help your hair grow back after a hair transplant. For that reason, we recommend applying minoxidil foam to the scalp starting about three weeks after a hair transplant.
Men can use 5% minoxidil while women should use 2%. You can apply the foam once or twice a day for the first five months after your transplant. At the five-month mark, the new hairs should have grown in enough that they can continue to grow without the help of minoxidil.
Using minoxidil can cause some irritation or redness. If you notice any irritation, stop using the product for one week. Then, cut back on your use to once every other day.
Some people are particularly sensitive to the product and might experience heart palpitations, itching, or feelings of lightheadedness. If these symptoms occur, discontinue use immediately.
Covering Up the Scalp
While the scars from FUT or FUE are relatively small, you might want to cover up the scalp and conceal the graft area while waiting for new hair to grow in. You can do this in a few ways.
We’ll provide you with a bandana to wear on the day of your surgery. Starting the next day, you can wear a hat to keep the scalp covered.
Another option, if you have long enough hair, is to use Toppik, a powder that matches your hair color. We’ll supply you with Toppik if you wish. You can begin using it on the third day, once you discontinue the use of GraftCyte.
What Not to Do After a Hair Transplant
There are a few things to avoid after your hair transplant. For example, we’ll most likely advise that you avoid drinking alcohol a few days before and after your procedure. It’s also a good idea to avoid using tobacco products well in advance and after your hair transplant.
The scalp area will be particularly sensitive to the sun following a hair restoration procedure. To reduce the chance of discoloration or sunburn, keep the scalp covered anytime you’re outdoors or exposed to the sun.
Wearing a hat is an ideal way to shield the scalp from the sun. Ideally, you’ll avoid direct sun exposure that lasts for more than 30 minutes during the first five days after your hair transplant.
Check with your surgeon before resuming most activities, even if you feel fine and back to your old self. While most activities can start back up again a few days after your hair transplant, it’s always a good idea to confirm that you’re healed enough before resuming them. You don’t want to take chances that might compromise your results.
Contact Us With Any Questions
The surgeons and staff of the Foundation for Hair Restoration are here for you throughout the hair transplant process. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about the recovery period or to clarify any post-operative instructions.
If you have any questions about hair transplant recovery, call 305-680-5918 and someone from our practice in Miami will be happy to answer them.