There is a great deal that can be accomplished for patients opting to undergo a hair transplant procedure, especially since there have been so many technological and procedural advances made in recent years. In order to ensure the patient understands the timeline regarding the process from the pre-operative stage to the post-operative stage, an initial consultation with a hair transplant doctor in our Chicago, New York, Connecticut, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Manila surgeries is particularly ideal. During the course of that consultation, the hair transplant specialist will be able to review the various factors that might affect the procedure in some way and will take the time to discuss with the patient what he or she can reasonably expect by undergoing a hair transplant procedure.
While the hair transplant procedure is often discussed in terms of the pre-operative and post-operative phases, most patients are primarily interested in learning more about what can be expected during the post-operative phase, and rightly so. After all, seeing the final outcome of the procedure is much more exciting than simply preparing to begin the process. This does not mean that the patient can overlook the pre-operative phase, and there are certain expectations the patient should recognize when first entering the hair transplantation process.
In most cases, the first step is the initial consultation. The patient should expect to meet with the hair transplant doctor to discuss the various hair transplant options that may be available as well as the viability of each procedure as it relates to the individual patient. During this time, the doctor and the patient should also discuss what the patient hopes to achieve through the hair transplantation process in order to determine whether the patient’s goals are realistic. Once the doctor and patient have agreed on the most ideal approach, the patient should expect the doctor to detail the manner in which the procedure will be performed and will outline how the patient can go about preparing for the procedure in the meantime. The patient should also expect the doctor to discuss what can be expected following the completion of the procedure and the steps they can take to ensure the best possible outcome.
What to expect immediately following a hair transplant
What the patient should expect immediately after the completion of a hair transplant will depend on the specific procedure they have selected. This is simply due to the differing recovery times associated with the FUE and FUT procedures, as the FUT procedure typically requires the patient to spend a few days focused on recovery. The FUE procedure essentially allows the patient to return to normal activity the day after the procedure is performed. There is more to each procedure that just the recovery process, so it is important that patients understand how closely each individual procedure aligns with their specific hair restoration goals when making a decision regarding the most ideal option.
Patients opting for the FUT procedure should expect to require a good deal of rest following the completion of the procedure and should arrange transportation back to their home or hotel before undergoing the procedure. The doctor, like in our Abu Dhabi surgery, should provide explicit care instructions for the patient to follow, and the patient should take great care to heed these instructions if they wish to ensure the transplanted follicular units heal properly. Many doctors will provide a special kind of shampoo for the patient to use the day after the procedure has been completed and will give specific instructions regarding how to use this shampoo and how frequently the patient should shower.
The patient should also expect the recipient site to develop what is commonly referred to as “crusting,” which is simply part of the healing process. The doctor will provide the patient with specific instructions regarding how to clean and care for these areas, with it typically taking between a week and 10 days before the transplanted follicular units are firmly rooted in place. During these 10 days or so, it is imperative that the patient avoid rubbing the grafts or picking at the crust, as this may lead to some of the transplanted follicular units being dislodged from the recipient site. This is different from the natural shedding of the hairs from the recipient site, and in the unlikely event that one of the grafts become dislodged, the patient will likely experience some bleeding from the site.
The immediate after-care instructions will be quite similar for patients who elect to undergo an FUE procedure, with the principal difference being the speed with which the patient is able to return to normal activity levels. While an FUT procedure will require the patient to rest for several days following the procedure, a patient undergoing FUE can expect to return to work and resume normal activities within a day or two. Since the FUE procedure requires a significantly larger donor site than the FUT procedure, patients should understand that the entire donor site might have to be shaved and will thus be fairly visible after the procedure is complete.
What to expect one month following a hair transplant
After a month has passed since the completion of the hair transplant procedure, patients who have undergone either the FUE or FUT procedure should have shed all of the initially transplanted follicular units from the recipient site. Some of these grafts will shed within a week following the procedure, while other grafts will take a few weeks before they fall from the recipient site. This is simply a normal part of the process and should not cause any alarm to the patient since the graft will begin to grow new follicles from the roots transplanted in the recipient site.
FUT and FUE patients should expect their respective donor sites to be healing nicely at the one-month mark in the process and should have been taking care of their hair according to the instructions provided by the doctor. At this point the grafts should be secure and can be considered permanent. This means that the grafts can now be treated in the same way as naturally occurring hair, but there may still be a need to continue to take additional care of the scalp if any redness remains after a month.
The overwhelming majority of patients undergoing an FUE or FUT procedure will not experience sensitivity lingering any longer than one month after the procedure, but it is possible that some patients will find that parts of their scalp remain somewhat sensitive for a lengthier period of time. In those rare circumstances, this lingering sensitivity should abate at the one-month mark or at least shortly thereafter. The same is true of any redness or scalp irritation, as it is very unlikely that a patient’s scalp will continue to be irritated any longer than a month after the transplant session.
What to expect two months following a hair transplant
Two months after the completion of a hair transplant session, patients will likely begin seeing some of the initial benefits of the procedure. There should be no lingering sensitivity in the scalp and there should be no visible evidence giving away the fact that the patient has undergone a hair transplant. The horizontal scar that is left behind when undergoing an FUT procedure should be completely healed at this point, with many patients from our New York and Chicago noticing that it becomes increasingly difficult to locate the scar due to the coverage provided by the naturally growing hair surrounding the donor site.
Although it is still too early to truly expect follicles to be visibly growing in the recipient site, many patients begin to see the early returns of the procedure as the first follicles begin to grow from the root of the graft. Not all patients will share in this experience, however, and it is important for patients to understand that their transplanted hair may not begin growing until three or four months have passed after the hair transplant session. In any case, any lingering grafts that remained in the recipient site should have shed well in advance of the two-month mark.
There is not much required of the patient in terms of active care strategies at this point. Patients can have their hair cut and styled just as they normally would and do not have to worry about the stability of the grafts in the recipient site. After about 10 days, the follicular units are secure and will not be adversely affected by any daily activities in which the patient typically engages. FUT patients are often instructed to avoid strenuous activity for several weeks following the procedure, so the two-month mark is usually considered a safe time to resume an exercise regimen or to take on any other form of strenuous activity.
What to expect three months following a hair transplant
Once three months has elapsed following the completion of the hair transplant procedure, patients can expect to begin seeing the initial hair growth from the recipient site. Although the newly emerging follicles will enable the patient to get a general conception of what their hairline will look like once it is fully grown, it will still be another three to six months before the patient will be able to accurately evaluate the results achieved through the hair restoration process. Some patients will experience differences in the timeline in which growth begins, with some beginning to experience growth relatively early, but the overwhelming majority of patients at least see the beginning stages of growth at the three-month mark.
Although it is relatively uncommon, patients who experienced any shock loss in the areas surrounding either the donor site or the recipient site should see vast improvements as the hair begins to regrow and fill in any affected areas. Patients who planned on having multiple sessions of the FUT procedure may have a follow-up appointment scheduled with their doctor in order to evaluate the initial session’s progress and to decide upon a course of action regarding future sessions. With FUT in particular, additional sessions are usually not performed until at least six months have passed from the previous session. At the three-month mark, undecided patients may be able to determine whether they believe additional sessions are indeed necessary, but it is often the case that a single session provides more than adequate coverage.
What to expect four to six months following a hair transplant
This is often the most exciting time for a hair transplant patient, as four to six months is generally the period of time in which the outcome of the procedure begins to become increasingly evident. The transplanted follicular units have had enough time to take root, shed and regrow to a length in which it is easier to see the amount of coverage the new follicles are capable of providing to the areas previously affected by thinning hair and hair loss. It is at this time that the patient can also begin exploring the different haircuts or styling options now available to them now since their new hair has had time to grow out to a sufficient length.
After six months has passed from the time of the initial procedure, patients who discussed undergoing multiple sessions of FUT with their doctor at the time of initial consultation can now make a fully informed decision regarding the need to undergo any additional sessions of FUT, and it is often the case that patients are comfortable with the coverage provided by the initial session once the transplanted follicles have had time to grow in the recipient site. Patients who pursue additional sessions of FUT are advised to allow at least six months to pass between sessions to ensure a full recovery and to give the patient the opportunity to evaluate his or her options after seeing the results of the first session.