Hair Transplant Recovery Time: What to Expect

Written by
The Manual Team
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
7th January 2022

In 30 seconds…

After a hair transplant, it can take some time to heal. But the good news is, your hair transplant recovery time is relatively short and usually painless.

Usually, any minimal pain, swelling, and discomfort will have subsided by the end of the first week. Then, in the following weeks, it’s common for your hair to fall out. This can be a shock, but it’s actually a sign that things are progressing normally. Rest assured, it will grow back.

At the six-month mark, you’ll be well on the way to a full recovery. By this point, you should see new hair growth.

What to Expect After a Hair Transplant

There’s no doubt the word “surgery” can feel a little scary. But behind an intimidating word there’s a much less terrifying reality. 

Hair transplants are largely painless and successful, and the men who undergo them are usually pleased. One study found that nearly 98% of men who undergo hair restoration surgery are satisfied. Another study involving over a thousand men found that a hair transplant “significantly” boosted their self-esteem.  

In this article, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about hair transplant recovery time. We’ll be looking at everything you can expect after hair transplant surgery – from managing any discomfort to when you can expect to look your best.

What Happens During a Hair Transplant?

A hair transplant is a type of surgery where hair follicles are removed from part of the head and reinserted into an area affected by baldness

Hair transplants come in two main forms, with slightly different recovery timelines:

  • Follicular unit transplantation (FUT). In FUT, a surgeon removes a strip of skin from a donor area. They’ll then cut that strip into small pieces, each containing one or two hair follicles. These pieces will then be inserted into your scalp in the area affected by hair loss.

    Note: During FUT, the surgeon will need to close the donor area. That’s usually done with stitches – and this can affect your recovery time.
  • Follicular unit extraction, or excision (FUE). Alternatively, during an FUE hair transplant procedure, a surgeon will remove donor hair follicles individually and reinsert them one by one. This means the process will take a little longer, but it should reduce recovery time as it removes the need for stitches.

Both procedures are usually painless, straightforward, and effective. But some considerations will affect the time it takes to recover:

Factors that Affect Your Recovery Time

  • Anaesthetic. Usually, surgeons will use a local anaesthetic. That means that you’ll be awake during the procedure – and that you won’t need to recover from general anaesthetic.
  • Itchiness and discomfort. Hair restoration procedures work by intervening in your scalp. This can cause some mild pain and redness. While serious adverse effects are very rare, some people do react differently to others. Some people may need painkillers.
  • “Shock loss” and regrowth. In the weeks immediately after your hair transplant, you may notice excessive hair shedding. This is normal after hair transplantation, but it will affect different men differently.
  • Every man is different. Ultimately, not every man will react in the same way to a hair transplant. Men with sensitive skin, for example, may find the healing process takes a little longer.

Read more: What are the Side Effects of a Hair Transplant?

Your Hair Transplant Recovery: Time and Results

So, how long is the average hair transplant recovery time? This will differ from man to man. But here’s what you can expect in your transplant recovery process.

  • The first week. After your surgery, the first week will be all about healing. You can expect a bit of discomfort and tenderness as the anaesthetic wears off – and you’ll be advised not to touch your scalp. Expect to be given painkillers and antibiotics to manage the pain, reduce any chance of infection, and support healing. 

Note. Most clinics recommend taking the first week off work to allow full recovery. If you have FUE surgery, though, recovery is likely to be quicker. That means you may be able to return to work sooner.

  • The second and third week. By this point, the pain will largely have gone, and the hair grafts will slowly become more secure. That means that you can wash your scalp gently to remove any scabbing and probably come off the painkillers.

It’s at this time that you’re most likely to experience hair shedding. This is totally normal, and it’s due to the natural hair growth cycle. It will grow back!

  • After the first month. In the early months after your hair transplant, you’ll likely have fully recovered. Now you’ll be taking huge strides toward your new head of hair. New growth appears – usually between the first and fourth months – and the grafts will be completely healed (but there may still be some scarring, particularly after FUT).

    During this time, there may be some signs of flakiness or acne on your scalp. This is a sign of new hairs trying to push through your skin. It’s a normal sign of growth.
  • From six months onward. After the six-month mark, new growth should be considerable. That means hair will become denser and healthy, while the hair shafts themselves will become thicker. By now, you’ll be able to handle and style your hair as usual. However, hair care to support continued growth is recommended.

What Can I Do to Help Recovery from a Hair Transplant?

During your hair transplant recovery, your surgeon will tell you precisely what you should do – and what you should avoid. Follow these steps to ensure the best results:

  • Take the recommended medication. This will help you manage pain and any chance of infection.
  • Avoid scratching and rubbing the scalp in the early weeks. Transplanted hair grafts need some time to become fully secure – and handling them might affect results.
  • Wash your scalp very gently. Many people ask if they can shower after a hair transplant. Wash your body as normal, of course! But avoid directing intense water pressure onto your grafts in the early stages after your transplant.
  • Rest. When still recovering, you don’t want to overexert yourself. That means it’s best to refrain from intense exercise. Studies suggest you should hold off exercise for at least a couple of weeks.
  • Wear a hat outside. Some doctors suggest this can help environmental factors from affecting your delicate hairline. But avoid any headwear that is too tight.

Key Takeaways

How long is hair transplant recovery time? While many factors affect the healing process, you’re likely to have recovered fully by about a month after surgery. That means any discomfort will have gone, your new grafts will be secure, and you may even see new growth.

After that, your transplant journey focuses on care and waiting for growth. At Manual, we’ll be here to help. 

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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