For those who are self-conscious about their thinning hair, taking the plunge to undergo hair transplant surgery can be a big step, but it’s one an increasing number of people are opting for to restore their self-esteem and quality of life.
Although it may feel like a major decision, the procedure itself is minimally invasive, low-risk and has very few complications. However, unless you’re fully prepared for what to expect, you may be somewhat surprised by the recovery process.
Let’s take a detailed look at the follicular unit extraction (FUE) process, and what happens in the weeks and months that follow the procedure.
Why Choose FUE?
FUE is a groundbreaking hair restoration surgery that typically results in noticeably increased hair density after just one treatment. Toronto-based surgeon Dr. Robert Jones is one of the world’s leading experts in FUE, and a pioneer in the technique. His approach mimics the way hair grows naturally, which leads to virtually undetectable results.
FUE hair transplant surgery is among the most modern methods for hair restoration, and delivers outstanding results with a minimal recovery period. Dr. Jones’ FUE technique removes tiny bunches of one to four hair follicles from a donor site on each patient’s head or body using a punch-like scalpel, and reinserts them into the areas on the top and sides of the head where hair is thinning.
An FUE hair transplant procedure is a simple outpatient surgery. The entire transplant can be completed in one day. Unlike earlier methods of hair restoration, the technique does not result in any linear scars in either the donor or recipient area.
For most patients, the biggest challenge of a hair restoration surgery is anticipating the results.
It may take as long as a year before you will see the complete results of the hair transplant.
Here is an extensive timeline of what you can expect following FUE surgery, and what you should do to maximize your results throughout that year.
You will be able to see the shape of your new hairline immediately after the FUE transplant is complete, with the follicles implanted in their new position. You can also expect some minor tenderness, soreness, redness or swelling.
Dr. Jones will send you home with detailed post-operative advice about how best to take care of your transplant. These instructions might include sleeping with your head elevated, or restrictions on washing your hair or showering.
The Day After a Hair Transplant
The day following hair transplant surgery is a critical time for the results. You will be able to remove the bandage from the donor area and gently clean it with a wet cloth or sponge to wipe off any dried blood. The transplanted grafts will all be scabbed over at this point, so it is paramount that you protect this area from any rubbing, scratching or irritation.
There’s no reason you can’t go back to work the day after your procedure, but many people prefer to take a week or so off. Any swelling, scabbing or redness should fully resolve within 5 to 7 days, and it gives your transplant time to “settle in.”
The First 7 to 10 Days
Continue to care for your transplanted grafts and follow all post-op instructions during this period. During this phase, the donor area will heal, new hair will already start to grow in and you will no longer experience any swelling or redness.
A scab will form around each follicular unit transplanted. By the end of the first 10 days, these scabs should all have fallen off, and you will be able to clearly see what the transplant site will look like.
Weeks 2 to 3
This stage catches many unprepared patients off-guard. Around two weeks or so after your FUE surgery, you may be alarmed to realize your newly transplanted hairs are all falling out. Don’t panic! This is a totally normal and healthy part of the healing process, and doesn’t mean the grafts have failed to take root. It’s a natural step in the hair-growth lifecycle for the old hairs to fall out – the hair shafts themselves get shed, but the follicular units remain totally intact, and are starting to grow new hair shafts.
The next few months following FUE surgery are the beginning of the growth phase for your newly transplanted hairs. At this stage, the new transplants will begin to emerge from your scalp as finer strands. Any redness or irritation in the donor area should also resolve at this point.
During this phase, you’ll start to notice a considerable amount of hair emerging from the scalp. Toward the end of this period, the hair will start to thicken, and you will be able to cut, color or style your hair in any way you choose. The donor area will be completely healed by this stage.
9 Months Later
By this point, roughly 80 percent of your new hairs will be growing in, and the results will be very noticeable. This stage of the process will give you a clear indication of what your final result will look like.
A Year Later
By the one-year anniversary of your FUE surgery, your transplant process will largely be complete. Some people may continue to grow new hairs even after a year, but for most patients, the one-year mark represents the end of the journey. As the hair grows longer, it provides a fuller appearance, since the volume of hair at the transplanted area will increase. After a year, patients who suffered from very advanced hair loss can now get another hair transplant to add density to the same area that was transplanted the first time.
Take the First Step on Your Hair Restoration Journey
An FUE hair transplant not only produces natural-looking results, but the recovery time is also minimal and usually straightforward. Going into the procedure with clear expectations can ensure you don’t get anxious when your newly transplanted hairs begin to shed, or when it takes several months to see the healthy, thick head of hair you were hoping to achieve.
Dr. Robert Jones is one of the first surgeons in North America to specialize in FUE for hair loss. Having pioneered the method, he is now one of the world’s most sought-after surgeons for his knowledge and expertise, and he has helped patients from around the globe find permanent solutions to their hair loss. Contact our office to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Jones today.