- Tuesday.August 24. 2021
There’s plenty of information and advice on the internet about preparing for a hair transplant and what’s likely to happen during a procedure. But what about afterwards?
Although hair transplant procedures are commonplace these days, it’s still something that requires you to take specific steps after you’ve had the work done to ensure you recover properly and protect your grafts.
This article sets to redress the balance by letting you know what you can expect in the days, weeks and months following a hair transplant procedure.
For at least a few nights after you’ve had the surgery, it’s recommended that you sleep using 2-3 pillows or approximately 45º angle. The elevated position will minimise swelling. Or why not move to the theatre room and sleep on a recliner? That way, you’ve no chance of accidentally rolling onto your stomach in your sleep or rubbing your new hairline on a pillow. And it’s a great chance to binge-watch that Netflix series you keep meaning to catch up on!
On the first night, you’ll still have your bandages on, which may feel strange. And for several nights, you might not be able to sleep and could need some medication to help you relax and drift off into dreamland.
On the morning following your surgery, you’ll be allowed to take off the bandaging and throw it away. You won’t need it again. The team at the clinic would have given you your post-op kit that includes an antiseptic liquid to use in the shower from Day 3 onwards. Be sure to rinse your hair gently. No scrubbing! Your follicular unit grafts will withstand the water as long as you follow the instructions the doctor gave you.
Following the procedure, the scalp area where the hairs have been transplanted may feel sensitive and should be treated with great care. It’s not uncommon for hair transplant patients to see swelling in their forehead, which can move down to the bridge of the nose. Swelling will typically occur on days 3-4 and will accumulate around the eyes due to gravity. This is rarely anything to worry about and does not mean there is a problem with the surgery; it is simply part of the healing process and usually subside within 24-48 hours.
The transplanted hair will fall out from over 90% of the grafts after two weeks. This shedding is necessary for the follicle to regenerate and create new hair. Patients are advised that shedding should not be confused with the less common condition shock loss.
Shedding is a normal process and should not be a concern. The healthy hair follicles are firmly in place at ten days post-op and cannot be dislodged. Any residual hairs can be scrubbed away when washing the hair after two weeks. If a graft is lost (something that may occur in the first few days following your procedure), there will be bleeding at the site of the lost graft. Therefore, if you don’t see any bleeding, don’t be concerned.
Strenuous Activities and Heavy Lifting
Do not commence any strenuous activities and heavy lifting until three weeks post-op. This will help reduce the risk of widening the scar. To avoid infection, refrain from heavy work and sports activities that cause you to sweat.
If you do heavy lifting or strenuous activities too soon, the grafts can be dislodged and affect both the donor area and the new implantations. The healing time required after a hair transplant will vary from case to case. As such, the level of exercise patients should engage with may also vary.
To give you an idea of what to expect after a hair transplant (and when), here’s a table of symptoms to look out for. It’s worth remembering that this is only a general guide and that the experiences of different patients can vary greatly. The table below refers to someone who has undergone a Follicular Unit Transplant.
|Time since surgery||Looks||Feels|
|Day 1||Blood from grafts forming scabs.||Sensitive, tight, numb.|
|Day 2||Some redness on the scalp and/or swelling on the forehead.||Less sensitive, although could still be numb.|
|Up to 1 week||Hardly any redness and very little (if any) swelling.||Not sensitive, but perhaps still a little numb.|
|Up to 2 weeks||Like the early days of growing a beard.||Not sensitive or numb.|
|Up to 8 weeks||Hair falls away in the transplanted area as follicles become dormant. This is perfectly normal.||No pain should be experienced from now onwards.|
|Up to 10 months||Hair begins to grow and thicken and can be groomed.|
|Up to 1 year||Hair is grown to around 90% of the anticipated thickness.|
|After 1-2 years||Additional hair fullness and a return to your normal hair texture.|
The follow-up appointment
We will arrange a follow-up consultation for you around two weeks after your transplant. These usually happen face-to-face but can be handled online or over the phone if it’s not convenient for you to get to the office. In such cases, your clinicians will often use absorbent sutures to eliminate the follow-up session to remove the sutures.
How soon will your hair look ‘normal’?
It’s only natural to worry about how freshly transplanted hair will look, especially if you have to return to work. You’re likely to get scabs forming on your scalp, but these can be easily washed off in the days following your procedure.
After a few days, as long as you keep following the post operative instructions, the effects of your transplant will hardly be noticeable. Wait a week, and virtually no one will be able to tell you’ve had the procedure.
How to ensure your ‘new look’ looks its best
There are ways you can ensure your newly transplanted grafts look as natural as possible:
If you’re self-conscious about all the attention going on your hair, why not give friends and colleagues something else to focus on? Growing a beard or styling a new moustache can ensure your facial hair steals the thunder away from what’s happening on your head. You might feel more at home talking about changes to your face than your scalp.
Some men might be loathed to use this option, but if areas of redness remain on your scalp for an extended period of time, you can cover them using make-up. If you need help finding the right shade for your skin type (as it’s pretty hard to see your scalp), ask a make-up consultant in your pharmacy or department store.
To get your transplant looking its best, you might need to change your hairstyle slightly. Maybe use hair products to get your hair to stay where it looks best.
Your life with a new look
Hair transplants remain a significant and minimally invasive way for people to transform their appearance and restore their hairline and hair thickness to levels that give them more confidence. By following the aftercare instructions given, you should experience substantial benefits from the procedure and minimal after-effects.