A hair transplant is quickly becoming the most common cosmetic procedure in the world. The pros definitely outweigh the cons because everyone wants more hair, but there are some things you need to know about the process. I’ve never heard a man with a head full of hair say, “bald is beautiful”. Let’s be real – If everyone could have a ton of hair they would. The process of getting a hair transplant can be a little daunting if you’re unsure of how it works, so do your due diligence and find out what it entails. Now, let’s dive into the realities of a hair transplant.
Beauty is Pain
A hair transplant isn’t necessarily painful, especially when you work with a physician who knows what they’re doing. However, during the first 48-72 hours, the post-op process can be a bit uncomfortable. Like anything else, if you’re unprepared, it can most definitely be a surprise. The first night you really want to focus on relaxing and be careful not to bump your head on anything! Take any prescribed medication and sleep at a 45-degree angle for a couple nights to reduce any swelling. In my opinion, the “uncomfortable sleep” is probably the worst part of the experience. After about 3 days, any discomfort will typically subside. To be honest, I have some patients tell me it was very uncomfortable, and I have others who say it was no big deal at all. It’s truly more of a tolerance thing. My best advice is to come prepared and keep the end result in mind. What is 3 days of slight discomfort (with medication to help) when you’re going to have your hair back for the rest of your life?
Clubbing After a Procedure? Haha
What should you do or not do after your procedure to ensure the best result? It is recommended to take at least 3 days of rest post-op. For the transplant to heal properly you want to take it easy. After those first 3 days you can go back to normal everyday life but avoid physical exercise for 10-12 days. Additionally, if you have a particularly strenuous job you may want to take a few more days off from work. You don’t want to stretch the suture line in the back, causing the scar to spread and become noticeable. You also don’t want to cause any infection where the new hairs were transplanted. Keep it clean, keep it clean, keep it clean. Follow the post-op instructions precisely and you should be in good shape!
Shock Loss is a Thing
Shock loss, also called post-operative thinning, can be a surprise for some people who may experience it worse than others. It really depends on how much existing hair you have, where it’s located, where it’s being transplanted and how long the hair is. If you have little or no native hair on the top of your head, you won’t have to worry about shock loss at all. If you still have a lot of hair up top, you can expect to look a little thinner before you look thicker.
Shock loss happens for two reasons:
1) During the transplant, as the physician makes sites to plant the new hair, he may transect a few of those existing hairs in the process.
2) The new hair needs an abundant blood supply to grow (kind of like a newly planted flower that needs a lot of water and sunlight to thrive). Initially, the transplanted hair can compete with the existing hair for blood supply. This means that some of the original hairs may become thinner for a short time. No worries though, this is very temporary! A few months after the procedure, shock loss will subside, your existing hair will recover and the transplanted hair will finally begin to grow.
Styling is your best friend during this time. People make it work every day and it’s super common. There are a lot of tips and tricks to help everything look full during this time-period. Hair fibers are a miracle worker until the new hair grows in!
Shaving Your Head? There is Some Benefit!
Do you have to shave your head for a transplant? Not necessarily. There are definitely some pros to trimming your hair down prior to a procedure. It’s not a requirement, but cutting down existing hair in the transplanted area will allow the physician to place the recipient sites much closer together and minimize transecting hairs. That results in a thicker transplant! For those having an FUT procedure, leaving some length on the back of the head can hide the sutures. However, if you’re getting an FUE, it’s important to know that shaving the back is a requirement.
Paring Non-Surgical Treatments with Surgery – Why Would You?
If you have existing hair up top, there is a huge benefit to using non-surgical treatments to maintain the existing hair. There are so many options that are doable based on your goals, hair loss, time, budget, etc. Enhanced Hair Therapy, Low Level Laser Therapy and Extra-Cellular Vesicles are all options that could be helpful to keep the hair you have. If you use these options post-op, it will also help reduce shock loss and encourage the new transplanted hair to grow in much quicker.
Swelling Can Happen
Swelling can happen post-transplant. Saline that is injected during the procedure can settle in the ridge of the forehead and migrate down the face. Typically, sleeping at a 45 degree angle and taking a steroid prescription will help reduce swelling significantly. It’s important to understand that swelling isn’t functional, it’s just cosmetic and it will go away within a few days. However, the key to reducing it is following the post-operative care instructions.
When Will you See Results?
At 3-4 months, you should begin to see new hair growth. Hair will continue to grow in gradually for approximately 9 more months, gaining on average 10% growth each month. By 14 months post-op, the transplanted will be grown in.
Is It Worth It?
Confidence makes all the difference in the world. Confidence gives you peace of mind because you are no longer worried about something that you used to think about every day. When you are self-conscious about something, it lives in your head at all times. Whether you are at the pool with wet hair, on a date under bright light, going to a wedding where you can’t wear a hat, or at a ball game where the wind is blowing your hair all around, hair loss can have a huge effect on your day-to-day life. A hair transplant is a permanent, solution that will help you feel better about yourself. You have so many options to make a hair transplant happen and it is absolutely life changing. I would advise you not to sweat the small stuff like the post-op recovery, because it’s just a small piece of the big picture! Be prepared and make your new hair a reality!