Hair Transplant Recovery Timeline

Published 10 January 2019

Choosing surgical intervention to address your hair loss can put a lot of questions in your mind. In this article we will address a lot of the questions one may have, following on from a surgical hair transplant procedure – We have broken down the recovery timeline for you according to milestones that you can expect in a span of one year. Here’s what your hair transplant recovery timeline should look like. 

Week 1

Day 1

What you can expect:

For those who had an FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) procedure, expect the overall recipient site to appear slightly bruised, while the donor area is closed with fine sutures. This will be covered by a dressing. Depending on the doctor’s orders, the dressing may be removed the next day during a follow-up review. The donor and recipient site may be a bit sore and feel slightly tight due to swelling and suturing. 

If you underwent an FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) procedure, most likely the back and sides of your head would have been shaved. The tiny incisions in the donor area will heal remarkably fast within 24-48 hours. This means that recovery is much faster than a FUT procedure.

What you must do:

During the immediate post-operative phase, all you need to do is rest. You can take the prescribed pain medications to relieve the pain. It is not advised to touch or wash the donor and recipient areas during the first night as this can be very sensitive. Sleep on your side with your head elevated on 2-3 pillows to help minimise swelling.  As you move forward with the healing process, always remember to follow your doctor’s post-operative care instructions to the letter.

Day 2-4

What you can expect:

You will have tiny little crusts in the recipient area, but around day four this would soon be pinkish discolorations. The pain would have lessened by this time. However, any swelling on the forehead or around the eyes would have started to show around day 2-3 and would have peaked at day 4. There are ways to minimise swelling by using a hot and cold compress on the forehead.

What you must do:

Be mindful of the pain and swelling. Immediately report to your doctor if pain intensity increases, when swelling has worsened, or if you notice any discharges in any of the operated areas. Avoid touching, scratching or rubbing the transplanted areas as the grafts are still on their way of becoming stronger in their new home. Continue to prop your head on pillows to prevent too much swelling as this could also slow down healing. Steroid medications can also help decrease swelling, and you should take these according to your surgeon’s instructions. You may or may not be able to hide it depending on the amount of pre-existent hair that you can style over them. You may require to take a few days off work. If your work involves face to face meetings or strenuous work, a medical certificate can be supplied from our surgeon.

Day 5-7

What to expect:

By this time, the grafts are now adapted in the transplanted area that they can no longer be dislodged. Over at the donor site, the sutures (for FUT) are still in place. Scalp tightness should have gone at this point; however, scabs may still be present. You may also notice mild itching, but this is normally a sign of healing.

The donor areas in an FUE procedure would have been typically well-healed at this point. It will no longer appear like distinct harvested areas.  Some patients return to work after the first week. It is also safe to resume physical activities at this point.

What you must do:

You can already go back to your normal hair washing routine on the fifth day after surgery. To soften the scabs, you can leave your shampoo on a bit longer. This will make it easier to wash off any scabbing or flaking. Never be tempted to scratch so as not to dislodge the grafts. 

While it is already safe to resume physical activities, it is best to be safe by avoiding activities that put a great deal of tension on the donor areas. Avoid bending or heavy lifting for at least 4 weeks. While some doctors allow their patients to wear loose-fitting hats around day 3, you need to clarify with our surgeon, when you are advised you can do so. This will help you feel comfortable in public, especially now that you can engage in more activities. 

Weeks 2-4

Day 10

What to expect:

Any crusting or scabbing would have been gone and transplanted hair would have grown to appear like a “crew-cut” haircut. Post-FUT patients can expect the sutures to be removed at this point. Now that the wound has closed, removing the stiches that held the skin together will make it heal better. This appointment will also serve as another follow-up so the doctor can assess how your healing is coming along.

What you must do:

If there are still some scabs that remain. Don’t forcibly try to remove them. Continue with your usual hair care routine and the little scabs will come away on their own, without you applying undue pressure. Even if you are not a Post-FUT patient, you are still required to come back for a follow-up review to make sure all is on track with your healing.

Day 11 – Week 4

What you can expect:

The hair follicles will go into a resting phase. This means that the shafts of your hair grafts will start to fall off. You will notice that most will be gone by the end of the 3rdand 4thweek. This should be no cause for worry because this is a normal phenomenon called shock loss. Rest assured it’s not the actual little hairs that you see that are the important part of the process, it’s the actual root of the follicle that is imbedded under the skin, that will regrow a new hair from 3months post-op.

Some may also notice pimple-like arears on either the transplanted or donor area. They will look like regular pimples, but this is due to folliculitis. It is a common skin condition where the hair follicles become inflamed. If you notice this please contact the clinic or surgeon for them to review.

What you must do:

Don’t panic when hair starts to shed. Simply continue with your usual hair care; eventually new hair will grow. As for any pimples caused by folliculitis that you may notice, it is best that you avoid touching them. If you find more than 2 pimples that have become more painful or inflamed and if it is recurring, report this to our clinic immediately. The pimples generally clear up quickly with the use of a cortisone ointment and/or short course of antibiotics. 

Months 2-3

What you can expect:

There will be a considerable amount of hair that will start showing signs of growth around this time, although it may come in a bit earlier for some patients. This will have a fine texture at first and will eventually grow longer and thicker. Meanwhile, the donor scar in an FUT would have matured and shrunk to its final size and shape. It’s an exciting time, as you visually can see the first signs of the new growth from the transplanted hairs.

What you must do:

Even though the hairs are not in its usual thickness yet, you can already groom your hair at this point. 

Months 4-6

What you can expect:

You can expect the hair to grow thicker and longer and will have some textural changes towards the end of this period. You will have more options on styling your hair at this point. The donor area would have completely healed as well.

What you must do:

Granted that your recovery goes expected to plan, you can already style, or even colour, your hair at this point. We would like to see you at this stage to check on your satisfaction and progress and an appointment will be made at the 6-month mark. Be sure that you go back for proper assessment and for photos to be taken. However, please bear in mind only about 50-60% of hairs will be through and growing at this stage, basically the half way mark. Wearing a cap when going outdoors is advisable to protect your scalp from sunburn.

Month 7 – 1 Year

What you can expect: 

The patient would have grown 80-90% of the transplanted hair. Things are looking up at this point, in terms of hair growth. You will also notice remarkable textural changes where your hairs will finally look more fuller and healthier.

What you must do:

There will be another hair consultation review at this point. The doctor will take photos at different angles to document the progress. All you really have to do now is to enjoy your new look. 

The full effect of your hair transplant surgery, whether if it is an FUT or FUE procedure, will be most noticeable within 12-18 months. Also understand that each client heals differently. Your journey may be slightly different from the next patient. This is why we emphasize the importance of return check-ups because this allows us to monitor your healing process, and also for you to understand the changes. 

If you have more questions and clarifications, book your consultation at the Medihair Clinic today.

Please call 1300 355 325 to book your FREE consultation today!