Hair transplants are big decisions that can have life changing effects for those suffering with hair loss. For those who are considering the benefits of a procedure, however, it’s important to know how to look after their new hair and if a hair transplant will lead to any lifestyle restrictions.
The good news is that a healed and successful hair transplant acts just like normal hair, meaning you can live your life to the fullest without having to miss opportunities. But first you’ll need to heal.To fully recover from a hair transplant takes time, during which you need to take actions to ensure that you’re taking care of your scalp and giving yourself the opportunity to achieve the best possible results.
To help you better understand the healing process of a hair transplant, we’ve created a timeline of what you can expect after your surgery; as well as a do’s and don’ts list to help you get the results you’re looking for.
After the hair transplant: a timeline
The recovery stage after undergoing a hair transplant is vital for achieving the best results. The initial weeks are the most crucial, however, your transplanted hair will continue to heal and grow for up to 12 months, maybe more.
Rest is very important during this time as it will assist in speeding up the recovery process, as will keeping your scalp hydrated and following your surgeon’s aftercare advice. Below is a timeline of what you can expect from the results of your transplant over time:
Up to 4 weeks after a hair transplant
Pain — It’s common to experience mild pain for a few days after a hair transplant procedure, most likely around the donor area. Some people may also find it difficult to sleep for the first few nights after the surgery. The good news is that post-transplant pain can be easily treated with over the counter medication that will be provided at the clinic or a pharmacy.
Swelling — It’s rare for noticeable swelling to occur with most hair transplant procedures, however, it can result from extensive operations or surgeries that focus heavily on the hairline. In these instances, swelling can affect the forehead as well as around the eyes and can last between three and five days. Medication can be provided to reduce the symptoms.
Itching — Hair transplants can often cause an itching feeling after the surgery, usually lasting between seven and fourteen days after your procedure. The itchiness is a sign that the tissue on your scalp is beginning to heal and recover from the procedure.
Sleeping — The way you sleep in the initial weeks after your transplant is very important. As you should be touching the recipient areas as little as possible, we advise that patients sleep on their backs with their heads elevated on a pillow — preferably a travel/neck pillow. This will prevent you from accidentally touching your scalp while you sleep and will also help to reduce any swelling.
Healing and recovery — It won’t take long before you’re feeling like your normal self after your surgery; you should feel fine after a day or so, albeit with some soreness and numbness on your scalp. You’ll also find red scabs at the base of the transplanted hair that will be clearly visible for around ten days. After this point, your normal appearance will start to show — the exact recovery time differs from patient to patient based on age, diet, lifestyle and climate.
Up to 3 months after a hair transplant
The first month after your procedure is when you will start to see hair beginning to grow in the transplanted areas.. Your new hair growth may be rough and uneven to start with, as full natural growth will usually take around 10 months. Each patient’s recovery is different, however, so if your hair regrowth is taking longer, it doesn’t mean that the transplant is unsuccessful — it may just need a little longer to come through.
In the first month after your hair transplant, it’s important to follow the aftercare steps that will be provided by your surgeon. This includes spraying your scalp regularly to help speed up the healing process, as well as protect the follicles and any incisions to prevent scabbing.
From this period, you may experience shedding and ‘shock hair loss'. This can be startling at first, but it’s a natural step in the recovery process and helps to trigger regrowth of the transplanted follicles. Your hair growth will start to become more regular after the initial shedding, as hair will start re-growing and reappearing from month 2-3 onwards.
Your surgeon will also schedule check-up appointments to review how everything is going and take photos of your progress. It is vital that you go to your check up appointments as everyone will heal differently and go through a different recovery process. The appointments are a chance to go over any questions or queries that you may have about your hair transplant, the aftercare or the procedure results.
Your hair transplant results
Over the next 5 to 8 months, most of the follicles will be growing hairs again. At around the 10 month mark, the majority of hair transplant patients will have a full head of natural, healthy hair. 12 months after the procedure you will have an appointment with your surgeon, which will involve checking your scalp and providing a growth assessment to oversee the overall end result.
Hair transplant: do’s and don’ts
As the recovery stage plays such a crucial role in helping you achieve your desired results, it’s important to know as much information as possible about what you should and should not be doing after a hair transplant.
Here are some of the most crucial do’s and don’ts to ensure you have a successful aftercare period:
Do: avoid the gym after a hair transplant
As with any surgery, exercising after your procedure should be limited. Exercise after a hair transplant will raise your blood pressure, which can cause unnecessary bleeding or the transplanted hair to fall out.
You should avoid all strenuous exercise for at least 14 days after your surgery to protect your newly grafted scalp. The more vigorous the exercise, the more likely you are to negatively affect your transplant results. You can begin to do yoga and other light exercises as early as a week after your hair transplant. However, you should be aware that standing on your head or a pose where your head is dangling is not good for your post-transplant scalp.
Depending on your personal circumstances, some surgeons may recommend even longer exercise-free periods to mitigate potential trauma to the transplanted area — especially when involving contact sports. You should always follow your surgeon’s advice above all others as they know your personal situation better than anyone else.
Don’t: expose your scalp to sunlight after a hair transplant procedure
In the early days after your hair transplant, avoiding direct sunlight is crucial; especially if your scalp is swollen. Your scalp is highly sensitive post-surgery, meaning the sun can damage your recent grafts that are still in a delicate state. While it may not always be possible to completely avoid the sun, depending on your situation, you need to make every effort to stay indoors or in the shade during your first four weeks of recovery.
Do: listen to your surgeon’s instructions
Your aftercare is the number one contributor to achieving the best result for your hair transplant. After your procedure, your surgeon will provide you with a list of instructions to follow — this is something you should strictly adhere to in the coming weeks. They may also give you medication, including painkillers and antibiotics. These should be taken as often as prescribed to ensure you don’t suffer from discomfort or infection.
Don’t: return to work too soon
While not as arduous of an experience as other more serious procedures, you should still ensure you’re taking enough time off work to properly rest — even if you feel fine after just a day or two. Your doctor will give you the all-clear to return to work after an appropriate number of recovery days, depending on the industry you work in and the type of work you perform. When you do return to work, you should ensure you take things slow and not do anything too strenuous that could negatively impact your transplanted grafts.
Do: stay upright
It may sound like an odd request, however, you should avoid bending over or any activities that require you to look down. This is because the action of bending over causes the blood to rush to your head and can lead to unnecessary and excessive bleeding that can cause irritation or can cause grafts to not take correctly.
Don’t: smoke for 30 days after a hair transplant
Smoking should be avoided for at least 30 days after your surgery, as it can slow the blood flow to your hair follicles, making your healing more difficult. It can also interrupt the growth of new hair, which is the ultimate goal of the hair transplant procedure.
Do: avoid excessive sweating
As well as avoiding exercise, it’s also important to avoid any other activities that can cause excessive sweating. Using a sauna or even sitting outside for extended periods on a hot day will run the risk of causing an infection in your transplant site.
If your job entails working in the heat or involves physical activity, you should speak to your doctor; you may need to factor in additional time off work or have special provisions made for you to enable you to properly recover from your transplant.
Do you have to take medication after a hair transplant?
After your hair transplant, your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to prevent infections and ease any soreness while you recover. Depending on your situation, they may also recommend medication to assist the growth of your transplanted hair and prevent future hair loss. For more information on the medications that you may need to take after your hair transplant procedure, contact the team at FUE Clinics today.
Can you still lose hair after a hair transplant?
After having hair restoration surgery, your transplanted hair will not fall out again from male pattern baldness. However, your hair coils still fall out in other ways; such as alopecia, trauma and medical treatments like chemotherapy.
How to wash hair after a FUE hair transplant?
When washing your hair after a hair transplant, it’s important that you don’t pull out any transplanted hair or cause yourself any bleeding or pain. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions on how to wash your hair the correct way after your procedure, ensuring that you reduce the risk of infection as well as remove any blood, scabs or crusts from your scalp.
When can I cut my hair after a transplant?
You can cut your hair as early as 14 days after your transplant as long as all scabbing has dispersed.
What foods should I avoid after a hair transplant?
Having a nutrient rich diet can help you to recover and can also provide assistance with new hair growth. However, there are some foods and other consumables that should be avoided:
- Heavily spiced foods such as chillies, garlic and ginger contain anticoagulant properties that can thin your blood. This can cause hair follicles to malfunction and result in thinning spots.
- Salty and fatty foods, as they can increase your blood pressure.
- Aspirin and alcohol can also lead to problems as they too can thin your blood