Hair transplantation is a surgery, and the latter always sounds quite scary. However, if you take good care of your hair, hair transplant results will last for years or even for a lifetime. One or two years after a session, no one will be able to recognize the fact that you’ve gone through a hair transplant procedure. Best of all, you’ll be able to cut and style your hair in any way that you want. These are all good reasons to find out more about hair transplantation and recovery intricacies.
What Is a Hair Transplant and When Is It Needed?
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure, in which hair from the back or side of the head is implanted to a bald area. The whole process occurs at a medical office or clinic under local anesthesia to numb specific parts of the head, so patients do not feel pain during the procedure.
Many instances of hair thinning are quite natural and do not require surgical intervention. For example, hair loss after Covid can get back to norm with time without any specific interventions. Also, men tend to get a mature hairline as part of the aging process, and it might be enough to choose a suitable hairstyle regain confidence and allure. At the same time, there are many other types of hair loss that cannot be easily masked or reversed with at-home treatments.
For men and women facing severe hair loss, it quickly becomes a major problem hurting confidence and self-esteem, and hair transplant is the only solution left behind. One can expect to be eligible for the treatment if not falling into one of these categories:
- Women with widespread hair loss throughout the scalp;
- People who don’t have enough donor sites;
- People who have thick, fibrous scars after any surgery and injury of the head;
- People whose hair loss result from the process of chemotherapy.
Hair Transplantation Procedure
A surgeon first cleans your scalp thoroughly and induces a small needle to numb an area of your head with local anesthesia. Sometimes, the area of extraction is shaved for better precision. Two main techniques to gain the follicles for the transplantation process are Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
Follicular Unit Transplantation is the type of hair transplant treatment where the surgeon cuts a several inches long stripe of the scalp, separates it into smaller pieces to be implanted, and closes the cut with stitches. The sections look very natural when implanted.
Follicular Unit Extraction is the type of hair transplantation where follicles are cut directly from the back of the head through punch incisions and planted into tiny holes made on the receiving area of the scalp. Then, the scalp is covered with graft or bandages for a few days.
One hair transplant session can take 4 hours or more with additional time needed to remove the stiches 10 days after the surgery. On average, hair fullness is achieved after 3 or 4 sessions, which should be planned at least a few months apart.
Hair Transplant Recovery
After the hair transplant procedure, your scalp may be sore, and you need to take the following medication:
- Pain medications
- Antibiotics to reduce your risk of skin infection
- Anti-inflammatory medication to deal with the swelling
Most people can return to work a few days after the surgery. One or two weeks after the procedure, you may notice the transplanted hair fall out. There’s no need to worry though – it’s a sign that the natural process of hair growth has started and new hairs will appear from the follicles. You can speed up the natural growth and reduce future loss by taking minoxidil or other hair regrowth treatments.
Side effects that come up after surgery are usually minor and disappear within a week or more. They may include:
- Bleeding from the transplanted area;
- Infection (if the proper hygiene of the scalp is not maintained);
- Swelling at the donor site of the head;
- Bruising around the eyes;
- The crust on the affected areas of the scalp;
- Numbness and loss of sensation on the affected areas of the scalp;
- Inflammation or infection of the hair follicles;
- Sudden loss of the transplanted hairs (is often temporary);
- Clumps of hair what don’t look natural.
5 Rules to Ensure the Flawless Recovery
Once you’ve done with surgery, it takes at least one and two weeks to heal completely. These tips will help you go through the process fast, without any unnecessary complications:
#1: Restrict Exercise and Physical Activity
Keep away from exercise for about two weeks to completely heal after hair transplantation. Also, do not engage in any kind of enduring physical activity, as there is a chance to stimulate excessive blood flow and thus cause bleeding or damage to the stitches. Sweating is another downside that is associated with an active pastime that hampers the healing process.
#2: Make Your Hair Care Really Gentle
People always worry about washing and styling their hair after surgery without damaging their grafts. You can wash your hair 3 days after the procedure, avoiding pressure on the affected area. To extend the wash days, consider wearing a hat. You’ll be allowed to wear a hat that is loosely fitted 3 days after the procedure and more fitted hats will be allowed after 5 days.
Whenever you wash your hair, let it dry naturally: a hair dryer is not allowed for the first two weeks. Brushing should be very gentle too. If your hair tangles, use a conditioner and a detangling spray not to pull your hair while brushing.
#3: Rest in the Right Position to Reduce Swelling
It is normal to feel swelling at the transplanted area, especially first 3 or 4 days. To reduce swelling, sleep and rest with your head at a 45° angle position for the first week. Cold compresses can help too. However, be cautious applying them directly to the swollen area; try applying ice to your forehead or eyelids only.
#4: Refrain from Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol and smoking can interfere with blood pressure, so these can harm natural healing after transplantation. It is prohibited to smoke for at least 4 weeks. If you have the habit, we do recommend giving it up in advance, as it will be difficult to deal with some discomfort after the surgery while also trying to quit smoking. Any alcohol is a big no for the first 5 days.
#5: Consider Taking a Short Vacation
There’s no harm in performing daily routine work and, in fact, you may go to the office straight away. Still, realistically, you may prefer to take 4 or 5 days to relax and binge watch Netflix maintaining the right position. This will also help you avoid the contact with sun, which is not recommended after hair transplantation.
You may consider yourself fully recovered after the flakes around the planted roots have fallen off. This starts happening 7 to 10 days after transplantation but may take a longer time. When all peels have fallen off, you can start cutting, curling, and dying your hair.
There’s no need to be shy about your hair loss; consult a trichologist near you and make a treatment plan that will meet your own needs and requirements. If hair transplantation is recommended, do not be scared about the treatment: today, the procedure and the recovery paths are well documented.