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Hair Transplant Recovery Process

A hair transplant involves two treatment areas; the frontal area of the scalp where the transplant area actually occurs, and the donor area, which is typically in the back of the head. Both of these areas will require a period of recovery, although the donor area usually heals much more quickly than the grafted areas. While hair transplants are often done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthetic, there is a significant recovery period after the surgery. We've got the lowdown on hair transplant recovery, so you will know what to expect after your procedure.

Hair Transplant Recovery: After Surgery
Although your surgeon may place sterile bandages on the grafted site right after surgery, it is a good idea to bring a baseball cap along to put on after the surgery for the ride home. This will protect your grafts from damage and infection. Loosen the cap to avoid restricting blood flow to the treated areas. Place it carefully around the forehead first, and then gently lower over your head. You may want to keep this cap handy for the first few days after your procedure as well, in case you have to leave your house for any reason.

Hair Transplant Recovery: First 24 Hours
It is important to have someone pick you up from the procedure and remain with you for the first 24 hours if possible. You will probably see some redness and swelling at both the donor site and the grafted area. The donor area might also feel tight and sore, although numbness is reported as well. Avoid washing your hair with shampoo during the first 24 to 48 hours and follow dosing instructions on all medications prescribed by your doctor. About 24 hours after your procedure, you may notice small scabs forming around the incision sites. This is completely normal and the scabs will generally fall off on their own within a week to 10 days.

Hair Transplant Recovery: First Week
Most patients should avoid strenuous activity and direct sun exposure for the first week or two after hair transplant surgery. You may be given a surgical cap to wear to bed for the first few days to protect your grafted area from coming in direct contact with your pillow. It is also advisable to sleep in an elevated position for the first week or two, to reduce the risk of swelling and bleeding from the grafts or donor site. Some patients also find that an ice pack will help reduce swelling during that time. Redness may also subside during this first week, although the time frame will depend largely on the patient's skin tone.

Hair Transplant Recovery: Second Week
The donor area typically heals much faster than the grafted region. However, many patients report numbness from the donor area for many days afterward. If you continue to experience numbness after the first two weeks, contact your doctor. About two weeks after the procedure, the sutures in the donor area will begin to absorb. If dissolving sutures are not used, they are usually removed approximately 10 days after the procedure. This process may take a number of weeks to complete, but most patients find the donor area completely healed within two to four months after the procedure.

Hair Transplant Recovery: First Month
After two to three weeks, you may notice that the hair in the grafted area begins to fall out. This is a completely normal process, and in no way suggests the hair transplant was not successful. Shedding may continue for up to six weeks, but rest assured that the seeds have been planted for new hair to eventually grow in the grafted area. Patience is the primary factor in hair transplant recovery, as the patient waits for many weeks, or even months, to see the positive results of the procedure.

Hair Transplant Recovery: First Year
It is understandable to be impatient during the hair regrowth process. However, new hair does not begin to grow in the grafted area for a number of months. Most patients will begin to see progress within the first three to six months after surgery. About one year after the procedure, nearly 90% of the final product can be seen. However, the hair may continue to increase in fullness for another year. In some cases, the patient and doctor may meet after the first year to determine if a second graft is needed to achieve desired results.

--Wendy Travis

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