As with all procedures, the healing time after a hair transplant varies from patient to patient. However, perhaps the single factor that most strongly influences a patient’s recovery time is the specific surgical method utilized. The FUT method involves a linear incision and stitches that remain in the back of a patient’s scalp for 14 days, so the healing time is around 2 weeks. Contrastingly, the FUE procedure does not require a linear incision or stitches so the recovery period is shorter, typically around 8 days.
Although the healing time for patients recovering from a hair transplant ranges between approximately 8-14 days, some of our patients return to work the day or two after their procedure. Perhaps the most restrictive factor that may impede other patients from returning to work in the first few days after their surgery is their appearance. One option to explore if you are interested in walking out of your procedure with a completely normal appearance of the donor area is the No-Shave FUE. This method makes the donor zone appear untouched to the naked eye, is much less visually impactful than a head shave, and provides the same results as a traditional FUE shaved case.
Typically, within 24 hours after the procedure tiny crusts that look like grains of sand form around the transplanted hairs. These tiny scabs begin to fall off around post op days 3-4 and are usually gone within 7-10 days. Keeping the grafts moist or applying an antibiotic ointment may loosen the crusts and help them fall off earlier.
Most of the newly transplanted hairs will fall out within 6 weeks of the surgery and the patient will look like they did prior the procedure. This is normal and does not mean that the grafts have not taken root. Remember, hair grows from a follicle and when we talk about a hair transplant what we are really describing is a follicle transplant. Upon relocation, a follicle temporarily stops hair growth as it settles into its new location. The shedding of the newly implanted hairs is an essential part of the hair life cycle as it makes way for new hair growth at the graft site. Typically, the hair begins to grow back at around 12 weeks. The patient usually does not notice any change until around 5-6 months, at which point approximately 50% of the new hair growth may be seen. Full growth is usually not achieved until 12 months post procedure and continued growth may be seen for up to 24 months post procedure. Patients who have undergone a second or third procedure may see a slightly delayed growth timeline.
The recovery time for a hair transplant in Santa Monica, CA is minimal and usually uncomplicated. Understanding what to expect can ensure there’s no panic when hairs fall out, or when it takes several months to see your results.
Thanks to Marc Dauer, MD for their insight into hair treatment and hair transplant recovery.