Losing your hair can have a significant impact on your self-esteem, especially if it’s sudden or at a young age. Hair transplants result in a fuller head of hair to combat hair loss in areas of your head — or body — that are balding or thinning. Not only will this help to boost your confidence, but it will also result in a more youthful appearance.
Although hair transplants can offer a permanent solution to hair loss, it is important to be familiar with the procedure, the recovery process, and the aftercare before committing to surgery. That’s why we’ve decided to take a deeper dive into what you should expect on your journey to growing a fuller head of hair.
Types of hair transplants
Hair transplant techniques have evolved and advanced over the years and they’re now seen as a fairly common procedure. There are two main methods of modern hair transplants: FUT and FUE.
Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT) is one of 2 primary methods for hair transplantation. This process involves removing a thin strip of skin from the back of the head and removing follicular units directly from the strip. Each follicular unit contains 1 to 4 individual hairs and is placed into tiny incisions made in the scalp. This procedure may result in a thin linear scar on the back of your head, but this will not be visible unless you have very short hair.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is the alternative method. During this process, the back of the head is shaved and follicular units are removed individually with a precise instrument known as a micro punch. These units are then placed into tiny incisions in the scalp. This procedure does not result in the linear scar found in FUT procedures, rather, you may be left with many pin-point scars in your scalp. Thankfully, these scars are so small that they’re almost unnoticeable to the human eye.
How long does the procedure take?
The length of time taken to perform a hair transplant is dependent on the size of the surgery and the type of hair transplant undertaken. A typical procedure for a patient who only requires one session, however, will typically take between 3-8 hours with the possibility of consecutive days for those with more extensive hair loss.
What to expect before surgery
As the days creep up to your surgery it is important to ensure the scalp is as healthy as possible. Therefore, the following elements are crucial for a healthy and successful recovery after the procedure.
- The consumption of alcohol
- Aspirin-based medications
- Heavily spiced foods — chilli and garlic, for example
- A-Z multivitamin supplements
- Cutting hair two weeks before surgery
Following the above instructions will ensure that your scalp is prepared for surgery and that bleeding is kept to a minimum during your procedure. Additionally, performing scalp exercises can increase blood flow to your scalp, improving the condition before hair transplant surgery.
You can read our blog: ‘How to Prepare for Your Hair Transplant’ to find out more.
The recovery process: what to expect
The recovery period after a hair transplant is critical for achieving the best results. The initial few weeks are the most crucial, however, your transplanted hair will continue to heal for 12 months, possibly longer.
Resting, keeping your scalp hydrated, and following the aftercare advice during recovery are very important, as they will assist in speeding up the recovery process.
Every patient's situation is different, and not all hair transplants will yield the same results. Speaking to your surgeon before your transplant will ensure you know what results are feasible and realistic. However, generally, you can expect the hair transplant recovery process to be as follows.
1. Immediately after the hair transplant
Once your surgery is complete, your surgeon will remove the bandages. The area that has been transplanted could be swollen and so the surgeon may inject triamcinolone into the section to keep the swelling down if necessary.
After the surgery and over the next few days, you may feel pain or soreness. Your surgeon may recommend several things, including painkillers such as ibuprofen, antibiotics to prevent infection, and anti-inflammatories such as oral steroids to relieve swelling.
2. 7 days after the hair transplant
The first week after surgery will be the beginning of the healing process. It is normal during this time to experience aches and itchiness as scabs begin to form and fall off. Over-the-counter medication may be beneficial for discomfort or trouble sleeping.
It is important to remember that following the aftercare instructions given by your surgeon will be crucial at this stage for ensuring a speedy recovery.
3. 14 days after the hair transplant
After 2 weeks, the healing process should be well underway — swelling should have subsided however some redness and itchiness are still normal as stabs continue to fall off. At this stage, you may experience some hair shedding. This is nothing to worry about, as hair shedding is a normal part of the hair growth cycle and new hair follicles will eventually begin to grow.
Once you have reached this stage, activities such as exercising and washing your hair can be resumed.
4. 1 month after the hair transplant
During this time, as hairs continue to fall out and grow, the scalp may appear patchy. This is no cause for concern — hairs will be in different stages of the growth cycle.
Pain, swelling, and redness should have lessened at this point, however, if the area is still inflamed, you should contact your clinic.
5. 3 months after the hair transplant
After 3 months new hairs will begin to emerge though they may be wispy and thin in appearance. It is important to be patient at this stage — hair will grow thicker as time goes on.
6. 6 months after the hair transplant
6 months after surgery, you should be noticing a significant growth of new hairs that are becoming thicker and stronger. Remember that you shouldn’t expect to see the final results at this stage. Hair growth will continue over the coming months.
7. 12-18 months after hair transplant
Within 12-18 months, you are expected to see the final result. All the hairs should have penetrated through the scalp and matured, having thickened and strengthened. You can now treat your new transplanted hair as you would any hair.
Hair transplant side effects
Other than minimal scarring that is usually unnoticeable there are no long-term effects of a hair transplant. However, post-surgery side effects you might expect following the procedure may include:
- Swelling, bleeding, and itching of the scalp
- Drainage or crust
- Numbness or tingling
You can read our in-depth blog to learn more about the side effects of hair transplants.
Is a hair transplant painful?
Thankfully, no, a hair transplant is not a painful procedure. However, this doesn’t mean there is no discomfort. The above side effects may cause minor pain, but this is brief and temporary.
Things to avoid whilst in the recovery process
- Washing your hair or getting it wet until 3-5 days after the surgery (wear a shower cap to avoid this if necessary)
- Exercise for 2-4 weeks after surgery, depending on the type of procedure you have and the exercise you wish to resume
- Hair products such as hair spray for at least 4 weeks to avoid clogged pores and ingrowing hairs
To find out more about what to avoid after your hair transplantation, read our blog: ‘Life After Hair Transplant: What Can and Can’t I Do?’
How much does a hair transplant cost?
A common misconception about hair transplants is that only the wealthy can afford the procedure — thankfully, this is not the case. Although there is no definite answer to the question, the surgery is more affordable than most people think.
The cost of a hair transplant varies from one patient to another due to the individual’s needs and requirements. Therefore, a consultation with one of our specialists is needed to determine an exact price.
To learn more about how we calculate costs at FUE Clinics, head over to our pricing page for more information.
Choose FUE clinics for your hair transplant
If you’re interested in a hair transplant after learning more about what to expect during the process, you should contact FUE Clinics for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are here to help you understand the process and the expected outcomes.
If you’re interested in speaking to our team of hair transplant specialists, get in touch today or take a free online consultation. Or if you want to learn more, head over to our FAQs for more information.