Hair Transplant Recovery Timeline Explained

So you have thought about a hair transplant, read about it, browsed the internet for before and after photos, and decided to do it. 

As excited as you are, you are a bit concerned about the recovery process and what to expect. Naturally so. After all, you want to know whether you can work, take that vacation, or whether the new hair will have grown in time for your high school reunion or your daughter’s wedding. It all makes sense. 

Let’s see what happens after the procedure, the recovery and when to expect results.

Day 1 (Surgery Day)

Your day one will be different depending on whether you had a FUE or a FUT done. If you have a FUE, you will have tiny incisions on the donor area where hair was harvested. This area should heal in about 24 hours. 

If you had a FUT, you will have an open wound that the surgeon sutures before discharge. The donor area will be bandaged, and the doctor will give instructions on how you will remove the bandage at home or whether to come back to the clinic for its removal. 

The clinic will give you comprehensive post-op aftercare instructions that you need to follow. Some clinics also provide a special sleeping pillow and a hat. You must wear the hat on your way home and anytime you are outside for the next two weeks. This will protect the new hair from direct sunlight, the elements, and dust. 

Have someone come with you for the surgery so they can drive you home. The anesthesia and pain medication make it a bad idea to drive yourself. Ideally, don’t do anything after the surgery besides rest.

While you didn’t feel much during the procedure, thanks to local anesthesia, this will wear off after the surgery, and you will feel some discomfort. 

Day 2- Day 4

You will start seeing tiny dry crusts around days two and three, and these will turn pinkish by day 4. These appear like small brownish dots or spots around the implanted grafts. The crusts tell you that the transplanted grafts are being held in place and on the way to healing. While your scalp might seem unsightly, this is a good sign.

You should not have any pain now, though the swelling will increase around the 2nd and 3rd day and will be at its worst on day four. This is a normal inflammatory response to the procedure, and the degree of swelling depends on patient and surgeon factors. 

Some patients will have pain and swelling extending to their forehead, around the eyes, and the bridge of the nose. This is extremely rare, and it subsides in a couple of days. 

If you got a FUT, you might experience some skin tightness at the sutured site. This is okay as long as there is no foul discharge, smell, or pain that doesn’t go away with medication. You might also notice tiny, less than a millimeter holes at the donor site. These should close up in due time without any intervention. 

Contact the clinic if you notice discoloration or major bleeding. 

Day 5- Day 7

The sutures in the donor area will still be in place, but the skin tightening will have eased a little. You might have tiny scabs on your scalp and mild itching, which is a sign of healing. 

If you had a FUE, the incisions should be healed by now.

The pain, swelling, and discomfort you had after the surgery should all have significantly eased off. 

In some patients, small, pimple-like spots will appear on the recipient or donor area. This is known as folliculitis, which is caused by inflamed follicles. Talk to your surgeon immediately if you notice this. 

Weeks 2-4

The scabs and crusts from the excisions should have disappeared by the 2nd week after the transplant, and your scalp should revert to its usual color. Do not forcibly remove any remaining scabs, though. Keep up with the care and cleaning routine, and these should resolve by themselves. 

If you had a FUT, the incising site should be closed entirely by now and shouldn’t look raw and bruised. Your surgeon will likely remove the sutures at this point. 

By now, the transplanted grafts have adapted to the recipient area and cannot be dislodged. You might still have normal itching, but this is nothing to worry about. 

Hair Transplant Side Effects

Due to research and extensive technological developments, hair transplants are much less invasive than they once were. 

Still, patients report some side effects, some of which are part of the healing process. These include the following:

  • Scabbing
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Infections
  • Itching
  • Crust or pus drainage around the transplanted site
  • Folliculitis, which is inflammation of hair follicles
  • Numbness around the surgical site
  • Scarring
  • Visible areas of hair that don’t match the surrounding spots

When Do You See New Hair?

A common misconception with hair transplants is that the results are immediate; after all, the hair is already on your scalp, right? This is not so. Like the other hair on your head, the transplanted hair must go through the growth cycle. 

If the procedure was conducted properly and you followed your aftercare routine, your new hair timeline should follow the following stages. 

2 to 3 weeks after Surgery

As everything else goes on with the healing, your hair will also be busy with its own routine. 

One of the most noteworthy events is that you will notice some hair fall, which is undoubtedly the last thing you want to see. No worries, though, as this is par for the course. 

This post-transplant hair shock happens around this time and to almost all hair transplant patients. Hair growth follows a cycle: hair follicle growth, transition, and resting phase. 

Following a transplant, the surgical trauma forces the hair follicles to go into the resting phase. This can be likened to the follicles going into self-preservation mode. 

Because this is a perfectly normal part of the hair growth cycle, it’s nothing to worry about. While all you want after a transplant is growth, this hair fall is common and expected. The duration of this phase differs for every individual but typically lasts two months. The extent of loss also varies, with some patients losing most of the transplanted hair, some losing part of it, and others shedding all of it.

Note that the transplanted hair follicles have settled in by now. The hair shaft is released during the shedding phase, while the follicular unit and bulb remain intact. These will soon grow new hair shafts. 

Months 2-3

This is an exciting time as you will begin to see signs of new growth. This will happen for some patients and later in others. The first hairs you see look a lot like soft furs. This is officially the ugly duckling phase, where you are excited about the new growth, but it looks awkward, and you are in between hairstyles. 

For men, it helps to trim old hair to the new hair’s length. This helps minimize the contrast between the new and the old hair. Luckily, this too shall pass, and the fine hairs will grow thicker and longer. 

Though you still won’t have full density at the end of the three months, you can begin grooming your hair. 

Towards or slightly past the three-month mark, the donor area begins taking shape growing out, and the scars are much less conspicuous. 

Months 4-6

About 60% of the transplanted hair should have grown by now, and the difference is visible. Your hair is progressively getting longer and thicker, filling in the bald or thin areas beautifully. Hair grows at about 1 cm a month, so expect the progress to be slow but steady. 

The donor site should be completely healed by now, and all the numbness should be gone. You look and feel normal again and can go back to doing everything you used to do before the surgery. 

Month 7-9

Towards the 12th month after transplant, 80% to 90% of the transplanted hairs should have grown. This is typically when most patients can judge the results of the procedure. 

By now, hair is closely matched to existing hair and is growing in line with your hair growth pattern. The result is a more cohesive, more natural-looking head of hair. 

After months of waiting and mirror-sitting, you now have an idea of the final look, and you feel more comfortable being out and about. 

One year post-transplant

With over 90% or more hair grafts thriving, your surgeon will likely want to do a follow-up. What you have now is, by and large, the final result of your transplant. This makes a year a significant milestone, marked by matured transplanted hair. The new hair is indistinguishable from old hair and should have the resilient quality of hair from the safe zone. 

If you wear your hair long, the new hair might still have some catching up to do, but it will get there.

You can discuss concerns with your surgeon, including complimentary hair growth remedies or additional transplants to address density. However, it’s advisable to wait until after 18 months to consider a subsequent transplant. 

Your hair, after this point, will keep growing and shedding. You might keep losing on the non-transplanted areas if you have hereditary balding. You can discuss how to prevent or slow this down with your surgeon. 

Hair Transplant Recovery Timeline FAQs

When can I return to work?

If possible, take a week off work for recovery. You can return to work soon after this, especially if your job does not include heavy physical activity and exposure to the sun and other elements. 

Similarly, break from working out and swimming until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead. 

Can I continue with Minoxidil?

Before your procedure, your doctor will discuss any other treatments and medications you are on and advise accordingly. As such, they will address any hair loss medications you are on and provide instructions on whether to stop or cease taking them and for how long. 

Similarly, if you want to get scalp Botox injections, LLLT, Vitamin infusions, or any other hair loss therapy, discuss with your surgeon and let them advise on when it would be safe to do so.

When do I see my final look?

Your hair will have grown and taken form at the 12-month mark. However, most people still see additional changes a year and a half post-transplant. 

To get the best picture of the success of your transplant, give it 18 months. 

Is there anything I can do to recover faster and get good results?

Indeed, there are. 

For starters, how the procedure is done matters a lot. So begin by consulting your research to identify a suitable, well-qualified surgeon with a well-equipped clinic. This should ensure that the procedure itself is done right. 

The second thing is preparation. Right before the surgery, your doctor will take you through a series of do’s and don’ts before the surgery. Some medications and substances like alcohol can intensify your bleeding after the procedure. This adds some unnecessary challenges to the healing process. 

Lastly, you will be discharged with a comprehensive aftercare routine. You must follow this religiously. These stipulations are in place to ensure you recover within a reasonable time. They are also meant to safeguard the newly transplanted hair and give them the best environment to thrive.

Get a Heavenly Head of Hair

We all want a dense, healthy-looking head of hair. It speaks to our health, gives us more styling options, and looks great! A hair transplant can give you that and more, but it must be done correctly. And we do just that.

With 18 years of experience, high-tech equipment, well-trained staff, and a commitment to outdoing ourselves each time, you are guaranteed a seamless recovery and great hair at the end of the journey. To sweeten the deal, you get a free consultation to ask us all the nagging questions and learn everything you want to know about the procedure. Sounds great? Book your free consultation today.

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