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Hair Transplant Surgery Day and Aftercare

Surgery day and aftercare 

As the day of your hair transplant surgery approaches, you might find yourself feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness. This is completely normal. To make you more comfortable we will go over what that big day normally looks like and how to take care of your hair after it. 

What will the surgical day look like?

Of course, the procedure will differ from clinic to clinic, but this is how the day will generally go.

Paperwork

Because of the length of the surgery, you will typically head into the clinic in the morning. When you arrive you will need to fill out paperwork and sign consent forms.

Going over the plan

After that, your surgeon will go over the plan for the hair transplant. This is discussed with your surgeon during prior consultations, but on the day of surgery, the plan will be finalized. 

Shaving

Once your surgeon makes it clear what the hair transplant will consist of, you will start preparing for the hair extraction (unless recipient sites are made first). If any shaving is needed, this is when it will be done.

Extracting the grafts

There are different hair harvesting methods you and your surgeon can pick from. FUT is less common, so we will look at FUE, the most common way of harvesting grafts in 2023
 
This part of the hair transplant can last 1-4 hours. Fortunately, the area is numbed and the patient is often given medication to help make them comfortable. This part of the procedure isn’t painful once numbed and some people even doze off. The patient can also ask for breaks to use the bathroom or drink some water.

Lunch break

When the number of grafts is sufficiently larger, the surgeon, medical staff, and patient will take a lunch break. If the transplant covers a smaller area, such as the eyebrows, the procedure can continue without it.

Implanting the grafts

The recipient area needs to be numbed before the recipient sites can be made and the grafts put in. Depending on the number of grafts that need to be placed, the length of the surgery varies. The surgeon can estimate the time, but it really does take as long as it takes, sometimes up to 12 hours.

End of the surgery

Once the grafts are in, the recipient area is cleaned and an antibiotic ointment is put on the donor area.
 
The surgeon will make sure that the grafts are properly positioned before you leave the clinic. Some clinics give you a hat or surgeon's cap to wear when leaving the clinic.

What do I need to do after the surgery?

Your final result, after the area has healed, depends on the hair transplant itself, but it is also influenced by how you take care of the area as well. 

Right after the surgery

Once you get home, you will take off your hat carefully. You don’t want to rub the new grafts off. 

Keeping the area hydrated 

The clinic may give you a spray containing, for example, Plasma-Lyte and ATP (liposomal adenosine triphosphate spray) that helps keep the recipient area hydrated and helps it heal. On the day after surgery, you should spray the area every 30 minutes to an hour.

Medication

You will be prescribed medication to make the healing process more comfortable and help prevent infection. You will need to take an antibiotic for a couple of days to prevent infection.

Washing your hair

For the first six days after surgery, you should not wash your hair normally. After 48 hours, you can fill a bowl with warm water and baby shampoo and carefully pour it over your hair with a bowl daily. 
 
On the sixth day, you can use the shower. At this point, you’re going to start getting the crusts that formed out. Don’t be aggressive with the area, but wash it carefully. You should wash your hair every day until all the crusts are removed, this is ideally within two weeks. Hair shafts will begin to fall out, so do not be alarmed. 
 
Remember that every surgeon has his/her own postoperative instructions, so please follow them closely.

Working out

Sweating can irritate the grafts and cause hairs to fall out. So, it is best to avoid any activities which can cause you to break a sweat during the first week. Light exercise is permitted in the second week, and more vigorous exercise after two weeks. 

How long until you notice hair growth 

Remember that hair growth takes time and don’t worry if you don’t see noticeable changes within the first three months. Because of the hair growth cycle, noticeable growth sometimes takes 6-8 months and it takes 12-16 months for the hair to fully grow.

Visits to the clinic

Occasionally, patients are seen the day after surgery for a wash, though this is not necessary. Some surgeons have a video call with their patients after a couple of weeks to check in on them. After around ten months you usually have an in-person follow-up during which the surgeon assesses how the hair transplant has healed. This is also when you and the surgeon can determine if there is a need for a touch-up procedure.

Q&A with Dr. Linkov

Q: Can I shave my hair bald 5 weeks after a hair transplant without damaging the end results?
 
A: Yes. Shaving the recipient area is permitted at the three week mark after surgery.

The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.

Written by Aleksandra Božović | Edited by Dr. Gary Linkov
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