After your Hair Transplant - A guide to Hair Transplant Surgery
Once the anaesthetic has worn off – which is usually 3 to 4 hours after surgery then you will experience some pain and discomfort. There may be some minor swelling and soreness of your scalp but painkillers such as paracetamol can help.
Any swelling or bruising around your hairline will ease after a few days. It is also a good idea to take a few days off from work to allow this bruising and swelling to subside.
If a bandage was applied to your scalp at the time of surgery then this will be removed although many surgeons prefer not to apply a dressing to the treated area.
Your scalp will be pink and feel ‘tight’ or itchy but this completely normal. The areas of your scalp where the donor hairs have been implanted will have crusted or formed small scabs which will fall off a few days later.
What you will also find is that once this has happened it will be followed by your newly transplanted hair. This hair will be shed but don’t worry; this is a normal reaction to the transplant known as ‘thermal shock’.
Thermal shock is where intense heat is applied to a hair follicle which destroys that follicle. However this doesn’t affect the actual stem cells which were transplanted at the same time so new hair will grow. What happens is that some of the follicles and grafted hairs fall out but the stem cells remain. These enable new hair follicles to grow.
The transplanted hair grafts will start to grow new hair which then follows the normal growth/loss cycle. This will occur after three months or so.
You will also be given advice about washing and shampooing your scalp, using antibiotics and returning to the clinic for the removal of stitches (if applicable). So what will this advice consist of?
This is likely to take the form of a set of instructions, given to you by your surgeon which must be followed.
These instructions will include some or all of the following:
- Have someone drive you home after your surgery as you will have been given a sedative before surgery to help you relax. This takes time to wear off and during that time it is dangerous to drive or perform a complicated or dangerous task.
- If you have undergone a micro graft then a compression bandage will have been wrapped around your head, similar to a turban. This must remain in place for a day and kept clean and dry. Most hair transplant surgery doesn’t involve a bandage but all forms of surgery involve stitches. These may be the dissolvable variety but if not then you will need to return to the clinic in two weeks time to have them removed.
- For your first night home after surgery, sleep in a semi-upright position and use a couple of pillows to elevate your head. Do this for the first three days after your surgery. Do NOT touch or pick at the newly grafted areas. There may be some itching or soreness but it is important that you do not touch these. If you pick or rub them then they will fall out before they have had a chance to grow new hair.
- Do not drink alcohol for the first 48 hours after surgery. If you are a smoker then don’t resume this until a month later. Smoking can interrupt blood flow to the hair follicles which is vital for new growth. It is even better if you can give up. If you want to give up smoking but don’t know where to start then visit our stopping smoking guide.
- You may be given a special lotion in the form of a spray to use at home. This contains a ‘growth factor’ which is designed to encourage the growth of new hair. Spray this onto the areas where you had new hair grafted and do this until it is used up. You will have to do this every 30 minutes on the first day following your surgery.
- You will be able to wash and shampoo your hair a couple of days after surgery. This will remove any dead skin but more importantly, will clean the scabs which will have formed around the grafted hairs. This prevents the scabs from damaging these follicles and stopping new hair growth.
- This must be repeated on a daily basis for the first week after surgery. Use a balanced shampoo and work this into the donor hair and the grafted areas of your scalp. It’s a good idea to hand wash your hair for the first few days and then do this under a shower as per usual. The donor hair area (the fringe of hair around your head and just above your ears) must be kept clean to prevent crusts forming which can impede scarring.
- You can use an ice pack to reduce any swelling or bleeding during this first week but do NOT place this onto the grafted area. Place it either on your forehead or at the back of your head.
- If you play sport or exercise then avoid this for the first week after surgery. Try to avoid leaning forward or blowing your nose violently.
- The clinic will give you antibiotics in the form of a cream. This needs to be applied to any scarring twice a day in the first week. This cream will help to prevent any infection.
- If you have non-dissolvable stitches then these will be taken out fourteen days after surgery.
- Avoid sun exposure or using a sunbed whilst your scalp is still pink and swollen. Wear a hat if you have to go out in the sun.
If you experience any severe pain, bleeding or infection then contact your surgeon immediately. It usually takes around 3 to 4 months for new hair to grow although it can sometimes take up to 6 months. It’s a case of being patient and allowing your new hair grafts to spring into action.
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