One of the questions we often get asked at the Wimpole Clinic, and certainly something we come across on hair loss forums, is whether having a hair transplant hurts. Naturally, this is quite a difficult question to answer as every patient will have different pain thresholds and healing times, therefore some may experience higher levels of pain and discomfort than others. Add to that the different types of procedures available, and there may be more or less pain associated with the different treatment options.
Understanding the procedures
With Follicular Unit Transplants (FUT) the healthy hair follicles are removed in small strips from the donor area, then divided into individual hair grafts that are inserted into the affected area. This procedure is slightly more invasive, therefore the recovery and healing time may be longer and there will be minor scarring.
However, with Follicular Unit Excision (FUE), the surgeon will extract individual hair follicles that are then inserted into the affected area. This procedure leaves little to no scarring and has a faster healing time of 3-7 days.
The pain gauge
At the end of the day, there is no escaping the fact that a hair transplant is a surgical procedure and as a result it requires local anaesthetic to minimise the pain caused to the patient. This naturally, suggest that the that there may be some pain involved in the procedure, however, the local anaesthetic is used to alleviate any pain during the actual hair transplant treatment.
That being said, patients do report that the process can feel uncomfortable t. But as patients are awake throughout the treatment, some do report that it feels uncomfortable rather than painful. This is due to the fact that the patient is awake during the surgery, therefore the patient is aware of what is happening and will experience some feeling of pulling or tugging while the surgery is taking place, however with the local anaesthetic this won’t actually hurt.
Post surgery pain
While the procedure itself shouldn’t cause any pain, the area of the scalp that has been treated is likely to feel ender after the surgery is completed. This is because the scalp tissues have been subjected to trauma, which will inevitably cause redness and some swelling during the first few days and with FUT, the donor areas where hair grafts has been removed may be more tender and take slightly longer to heal. However, patients can take mild painkillers to help ease any post surgery pain and discomfort and within a few days these symptoms should subside.
Overall, when it comes to hair transplants the pain and discomfort you might experience are minimal and relatively short lived as the procedures and recovery times are generally quick. For most of our patients, this is a small price to pay for restoring their hair and their confidence.