There’s no two ways about it: surgery is always a little bit scary. But, concerns about surgery shouldn’t scare you away from a hair transplant. When a hair transplant surgery is performed under the supervision of a trained and experienced Bosley physician, recovery is typically fast, and the results can last a lifetime.
If you’re considering a hair transplant surgery, it’s important to be familiar with the procedure, the hair transplant recovery timeline, and the post-surgery protocols. The following is an overview of hair transplants, the healing stages, and what you can expect on the road to a full recovery (and fuller head of hair).
How Do Hair Transplants Work?
Like any medical procedure, a hair transplant takes place in a medical facility or office. It’s a one-day outpatient procedure, and patients typically undergo the surgery with a local anesthetic. Most patients are able to drive themselves home after the procedure.
During the procedure, hair follicles from a donor site are transplanted to areas of the patient’s scalp that have experienced hair loss. These follicles are usually harvested from the back or sides of the patient’s head. After time, these implanted follicular grafts grow natural hair.
There are two primary techniques used to collect follicles during the procedure: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction/excision (FUE).
With the FUT technique, the physician removes a single, thin strip of skin from the back of the patient’s head. Then the individual follicular grafts are isolated from the strip and are then implanted into the desired locations on the scalp.
In contrast, grafts can be individually removed from the back of the patient’s head during an FUE procedure. To collect the grafts, the physician/physician assistant makes circular punch incisions that are 1mm or less in diameter. These small incisions heal within 1-2 days and are then minimally detectable, making this a minimally invasive technique that allows for quick healing time.
Your physician will help you determine which technique is appropriate for you.
Is the Hair Transplant Recovery Process Painful?
You may experience tenderness, itchiness, redness, numbness, and minor pain in the weeks following a hair transplant, but the average patient reports only minor symptoms after one to two days.
Some patients use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications—such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen—to address their mild symptoms.
Ultimately, the best way to minimize discomfort is to follow your doctor’s post-op instructions. By following those instructions, your scalp heals faster (and properly).
Hair Transplant Recovery Timeline
Below is a general description of what you can expect in the months following your hair transplantation procedure:
One day after surgery
- It is recommended to come back to their Bosley office for a check-up and hair wash. Many patients are able to return to work as well, as long as their occupation does not require physical activity. The donor and recipient areas are just beginning to heal and will require special ointment to be applied (found in the Bosley’s post-operative healing kit) to aid in the healing process. For the next few weeks, please refrain from heavy sun exposure and using your own hair care products without consulting your Bosley physician.
Two days after surgery
- Some patients will develop minor swelling in the forehead area that can last a few days. Your physician will give you medication and discuss ways to address any swelling you may experience.
Two weeks after surgery
- You may notice that the short hair shafts that were transplanted are shedding. This is a normal part of the hair growth cycle. The follicle grafts are still healthy. After a dormancy period, the hairs will begin to regrow from the transplanted follicles in 4 to 5 months,.
One month after surgery
- By this point, the distinction between the transplanted and native hair areas on your scalp will have largely disappeared. As more time passes, you probably won’t be able to tell where your native hair ends and the transplanted hair begins.
- You can resume your pre-surgery exercise routine—you can even get back to swimming laps at the pool.
- Transplanted hair may continue to shed up to a month post-surgery, and you likely won’t see new hair growth right away. Stay positive. New growth is only a few months away.
- Ask your Bosley physician about reintroducing your own hair care products.
Three months after surgery
- Some small pimples may form where your physician inserted the transplanted follicles. These pimples indicate that new hair shafts are working their way to the surface. A warm compress may help to alleviate the pimples. While common, not all hair transplant patients will notice these pimples—an absence does not mean the hair isn’t growing. You are always welcome to check in with your doctor with any questions you have in this, or any, area.
Four to nine months after surgery
- New hair growth typically begins during this period—with roughly 60% of new hair becoming visible.
- Your new hairs will initially have a baby-fine texture but will thicken over time.
- You may continue to see occasional pimples where hair follicles were inserted. They should diminish on their own. If either are uncomfortable, you can apply a warm compress to the area.
12 months after surgery
- Typically, the newly transplanted hair is fully grown in a year after the procedure.
- This is a good time to schedule a follow-up appointment to be examined by your doctor and discuss any questions you may have. Like any medical procedure, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s advice and speak with them regularly to ensure you get the best results from your procedure.
As with any surgical procedure, the success of your hair transplant depends on you following your doctor’s guidance. Patients typically recover quickly from this outpatient procedure and see the full results of their transplant within 12 months. Better still, those results can last a lifetime.
If you are trying to determine the best hair loss solution for you, Bosley, America’s #1 Hair Restoration Expert®, is here to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our trained specialists to discuss solutions that may meet your hair restoration goals. If you are interested in a hair transplant, our specialists can put you in touch with a Bosley Physician who can answer your questions about hair restoration surgeries.