Going into hair restoration surgery without a realistic idea of what to expect in the days, weeks and months following isn’t the best idea. Before your hairtransplant, your surgeon will sit down with you and give you an idea of what you can expect. You won’t emerge from the procedure with a full head of long, luxurious hair, for example. During the first four weeks after the procedure, you’ll want to be very careful with the area that received the transplant. Don’t be alarmed when you look pretty much the same one month out as you did before the procedure.
Scabs and Sutures
It’s common for scabs to form at the site of the transplanted follicles within a few days after the surgery. Although it might be tempting to scratch off or pick at the scabs, it’s in the best interest of your hair for you to leave them alone. After some time, the scabs will flake off on their own. The size of the scabs depends on the transplant method used. The smaller the size of the graft, the smaller the size of the scabs.
If you underwent follicular unit grafting, or the strip method of hair restoration, you will need to return to your surgeon within 7 to 10 days after the procedure. At that time, the doctor will take out the sutures or stitches used to close up the donor area.
Shampoo and Styling
During the first four weeks after your hair restoration surgery, you won’t really have much hair to work with or to style. After seven days, the transplanted hair is about the length of a week-old beard. By the end of the second week, the hair is about the length of a crewcut.
You’ll want to go easy on the styling during the first month after the procedure. Hold off on shampooing your hair or even getting the scalp wet for about six days. When you are able to wash it again, choose a very gentle product, such as baby shampoo.
Wait about a week before you start styling your hair again, too. Keep styling products such as mousse or gel away from your scalp and be careful about exposing the transplanted area to heat from a hair dryer or other styling device. Although you do want to protect your scalp from the sun right after surgery, avoid wearing hats for the first week or two.
You can get back into the routine of getting a haircut about three weeks after your surgery. If you dye your hair, you can do so again at the end of the first month.
It’s not only what you put on your hair and scalp in the weeks after surgery that matter. It’s how you treat your entire body. Exercise and activity tends to increase blood flow to the scalp, which can interfere with healing after your hairtransplant. For that reason, your surgeon will most likely recommend that you avoid vigorous activity, from exercise to sex, for the first 10 days after surgery. If you have a desk job, you’ll probably be able to get back to work within a few days.
Be prepared to shed the hair that was transplanted. It’s common for the hair to enter a resting phase about two to four weeks after the surgery, then to fall out. Don’t worry, though, as shedding hair is all part of the process. The root is still intact and new hair will be begin to grow again after the resting phase. There are cases where the transplanted hair doesn’t fall out, but it’s better to anticipate that you will lose the transplanted hair than to feel upset when it sheds.
Usually, the hair won’t begin to regrow by the end of the first month after surgery. You might feel a little disappointed at this phase, but keep in mind that hair regrowth will happen, usually in the second or third month. Have patience and know that you will soon have plenty of new hair on your head.
Dr. Kyle Choe is an experienced hair transplant specialist at the AAAHC-accredited Choe Center for Hair Restoration in Virginia Beach. Contact his office today by calling (757) 389-5850 to learn more about hair restoration procedures and what you can expect after surgery.