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How To Sleep After a Hair Transplant

Opting for a hair transplant is a great route of treatment for certain forms of hair loss, including male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness; this form of treatment has gained a significant amount of popularity over the past few years, especially with celebrity influence such as David Beckham, Elton John, and Wayne Rooney to name a few; in fact, the ISHRS recently reported an increase of 5% in hair restoration services since 2019 [1]. 

If you’ve recently had a hair transplant, you’ll know the positive effect that the process can have on your self-confidence are more than worth it, however, there is, of course, a healing process that needs to be adhered to in order to get the best possible experience from your hair transplant- be that an FUE or FUT.

A common worry after a hair transplant is being able to sleep safely, without interfering with the healing process; if you’re feeling anxious about how to sleep after a hair transplant, keep reading.

How To Sleep After a Hair Transplant, Wimpole Clinic


The Right Sleeping Position After A Hair Transplant

The most important thing to remember about how to sleep after a hair transplant is to sleep on your back; use only one bed pillow, and put a travel pillow around your neck as this will help to stop you from turning in your sleep, and keep the scalp at a safe angle from the surface of the pillow. Extra pillows can also help to elevate your head, which is essential in the first 2 weeks after your transplant. Sleeping in this position will also reduce the swelling, as your scalp is not actively pressed against a surface, ensuring grafts are not damaged. 

The essential healing process of a hair transplant takes place in the first 2 weeks, as this is when the grafts are not secure [2]. After a hair transplant of any kind, the hair follicles will be easily susceptible to damage if not taken care of, which is why your sleeping position matters.

It is normal for the area of the transplant to be sore after the process, and the first night is usually when excess anesthetic will be released from the scalp onto the changeable pad; to prevent scabbing from becoming stuck to your pillow, you’ll need to be very careful.

Though hair transplants are safe, and if the area of the head where the transplant was performed comes into contact with the surface of the pillow, there is a risk of the grafts being torn away or uprooted as they are not yet stable. Not only will this be painful, cause scarring, and threaten infection, but it may mean that the procedure will need to be performed again.

When Can I Sleep Normally Again?

You should be able to sleep comfortably after around 10 days from when the transplant took place; this amount of time allows the grafts to anchor properly. Although you can usually resume a normal sleeping position after this time, you should still be careful to ensure that your scalp doesn’t interact with the pillow’s surface in too rough a manner, as the grafts will still be delicate. 

What To Do & What Not To Do

You should:

  • Invest in a travel pillow (this will help to prevent you from turning in your sleep)
  • Use extra pillows for sufficient head elevation
  • Ensure you change your dressing/pad before each sleep (liquids will accumulate within the pad, and the area needs to be kept clean)
  • Talk to your surgeon about pain relief if needed
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Follow your surgeon’s aftercare plan

You shouldn’t:

  • Let your head rub against anything
  • Sleep on your side
  • Drink alcohol (you may feel drowsy and forget that you cannot turn over or rub your head against anything)
  • Toss and turn, as you run the risk of your head rubbing against the pillow
  • Take sleeping pills, as they also run the risk of making you drowsy

How Long Does a Hair Transplant Take To Heal?

Depending on the type of hair transplant procedure you’ve had, your recovery timeline can vary in length and ease. The National Library of Medicine reported that an FUE transplant, or an FUT transplant, has the benefit of less postoperative healing time as well as less scarring, whilst an FUT transplant has a longer postoperative healing time, due to the procedure having more invasive techniques [3]. 

For the first 10 days, you should wear the changeable pads whilst you sleep as they will protect your scalp and catch any excess fluids. After the second week, the hair grafts should be established, and any scabs should be gone, however, you will still need to be cautious about sleeping in the right position, and avoiding harsh contact with the scalp, so as to protect the grafts and hair follicles as they anchor.

Even though a hair transplant may not seem invasive, you should still take some time out due to swelling and allow your scalp to recover in the optimum condition, before returning to work. Being out of work for even a short time can, of course, be nerve-wracking however you and your consultant should discuss the best time for you to safely return to work. You should also avoid anything strenuous such as working out, as this can cause you to sweat which breeds bacteria. This is because there are a few things you will need to become familiar with, from how to sleep after a hair transplant, to washing your hair for the first time; though, by the 6th day, you should be able to wash your hair gently by hand [4]. There may also be some side effects, depending on the type of procedure you’ve had, however, your consultant should prepare you for what to expect after your hair transplant.

What To Do If You See Hair Loss On Your Pillow

Seeing hair loss on your pillow after a hair transplant can be understandably shocking, however, this could be post-transplant shock hair loss. Recipient-site effluvium is very common and usually occurs after the second week that your transplant has taken place [5].

Though it can seem like your hair transplant is doing the opposite of what it is meant to do, this type of shedding is completely normal; it is not permanent, and once the follicle is anchored into the scalp, it will begin to grow again. 

Shock loss can occur due to anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium, or both; as telogen effluvium is common during trauma to the scalp, it makes sense that it can occur after the invasive nature of surgery [6]. This type of hair loss can, in rare cases, occur due to a reaction to an anesthetic, however, this again is not permanent, and the hair will begin to grow back once your scalp has recovered.

Research suggests that hair growth drugs such as Minoxidil and Finasteride can decrease the chances of shock hair loss when taken around the time of the operation [7].

If you’re experiencing anxiety regarding hair loss after your surgery, you should consult your surgeon about the best way to deal with the situation. 

How We Can Help

At Wimpole Clinic, we’ve been performing expert hair restoration services for over 45 years, which is why our experienced, and friendly, hair loss team is more than qualified to assist you with any concerns, questions, or anxieties you may have. If you are uncertain about what to ask, take a look at our list of questions you really want to ask before getting a hair transplant.

If you’re unsure where to begin, our expert Trichologist team is on hand to provide advice; book your free consultation here.

How To Sleep After a Hair Transplant, Wimpole Clinic


  1. ISHRS Practice Census Infographic
  2. NHS: Hair Transplant Healing Process
  3. Hair Transplantation Overview
  4. NHS: Washing Your Hair After a Hair Transplant
  5. Complications in Hair Restoration
  6. Anagen Effluvium After Therapeutic Scalp Surgery
  7. Hair Restoration Surgery: The State of the Art
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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