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Hair Transplant Recovery: What to Expect
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Written by Rebecca MuntonUpdated on October 4, 2023

Taking the plunge to undergo hair transplant surgery can be a big step, but it’s one that an increasing number of individuals are opting for. In fact, since 2016, hair transplant surgeries have increased by more 16% worldwide [1].

Although it may feel like a major decision, the procedure itself is normally painless and without complications, being classified as only minimally invasive and low risk.

However, unless you know what to expect, the hair transplant recovery process can be somewhat surprising. Here’s a closer look at what happens following FUE hair transplant surgery.

Table of Contents

What happens in a hair transplant procedure?

FUE hair transplants

For the most cosmetically pleasing results, we use the Follicular Hair Extraction technique – often abbreviated to FUE. FUE surgery is amongst the most modern techniques and delivers great results with the shortest recovery period. Unlike methods such as FUT transplantation, there is only minimal hair transplant scarring. There’s no need to worry about your scar showing following a visit to the barbers.

With FUE, the surgeon removes each follicle individually or in natural clumps of 2 or 3 hair follicles. This leaves a number of tiny incisions no more than a millimetre wide.


Informational graphic explaining the differences between the FUT vs FUE hair transplant procedure

FUT hair transplants

In comparison, a traditional FUT hair transplant operation involves removing a strip of skin from the donor area that is usually from the back of the head. The surgeon then divides it into individual follicles ready for hair transplantation. This leaves a linear scar and sutures using the trichophytic closure technique.

Pain relief

During the FUE hair transplant procedure, short-lived local anaesthetics are used to minimise discomfort.

How is the hair follicle removed?

A punch device removes the hair follicle. This is the most efficient process and also guarantees the least chance of visible scarring. The removed follicle is then placed in the bald area to create a natural effect.

How long does the surgery take?

The surgery lasts between four and eight hours depending on the size of the thinning area and how many hair follicles need to be extracted. You can go home on the same day as the procedure. There’s no need to stay overnight.

Will there be any scarring?

Although the technique reduces scarring and discomfort it is important to bear in mind that your follicles are being removed from one portion of your head and transplanted elsewhere. That means there may be some temporary side effects which will diminish with time as the graft heals and establishes itself.

What does the scalp look like right after a hair transplant?

You will be able to see the shape of your new hairline immediately after the FUE transplant has taken place with the transplanted hair follicles implanted in their new position.

However, visually it may not be as pleasing as you expected as there will be scabbing around each follicle. As none of the incisions are more than a millimetre long the scabs will be small and quick to heal.


hair transplant scabs after a week
hair transplant scabs after a week

Although the trauma to the donor site is minimal, there will be some side effects such as swelling. A swollen scalp is only temporary and will resolve within a matter of days. With certain other hair transplant techniques, such as FUT, there is a chance of developing numbness in the donor area site. This is also temporary but can last several months before resolving.

You may have some minor tenderness or soreness in the transplanted area. Any swelling across the forehead will diminish within a few days. You will then be able to resume your normal routine quickly.

How should I care for my scalp after a hair transplant?

The surgeon will tell you how to care for your transplant to maximise the chances of a successful result. This might include keeping your head elevated when sleeping after a hair transplant, and restrictions on washing your hair or showering.

What medications should I take?

Our consultants will let you know about any specific post hair-transplant medications you need before the surgery so that you can stock up beforehand. They may advise you to wash your hair gently with saline solution, for example, so you can get that in advance.

How long does the healing process take?

As long as you follow the surgeon’s recommendations the hair grafts will quickly settle down within 5-7 days and you will limit the chances of a hair transplant infection.

When can I go back to work?

There’s no reason why you can’t go back to work within 1-2 days. But most people choose to take at least a week of downtime after a hair transplant to recover.

What can I expect in the first few months after a hair transplant?

Around two weeks after your FUE surgery you may discover your newly transplanted hairs are all falling out. This is known as shock loss.

Don’t worry! This is a completely normal part of the procedure and doesn’t mean that the hair grafts haven’t taken root.

What is shock loss?

Hair grows from a follicle. When we talk about hair transplant what we really mean is hair follicle transplant. After transplantation, the follicle temporarily ceases hair growth whilst it settles into its new location. The old hairs falling out are a natural and essential part of the life cycle. This makes way for new hairs to grow at the graft site.


Chart of the normal hair growth cycle
Normal hair growth cycle

Hair transplant recovery timeline

Hair only grows around 1cm per month. That means it could take some time for your new hair growth to become visible and your hairline to start to resemble the result you were hoping for.

After 4-5 months you should start to get a good idea of the final appearance, but it can take as long as 18 months for the full hair transplant to be visible.

Depending on the time of year your transplant takes place (or your holiday plans), your consultant may advise you to wear a hat or high-factor sunscreen for the first few weeks.

Is a hair transplant permanent?

Once your new hairs have established themselves and are growing normally, you can treat your transplant area exactly the same as you would the rest of your existing hair. You can have your hair cut within a month and after that, should you wish, you can dye it.

A hair transplant is a permanent procedure and the results are lifelong (see our hair transplant before and after patient gallery to get a better idea of the results you can expect).

A year or two after the procedure is completed no one will know you have undergone an FUE hair transplant procedure. You won’t need to restrict your hairstyle choices in any way whatsoever.

What can I do to ensure the success of my hair transplant?

We can also provide specialist follicle revitalising shampoos to reactivate the grafted hair follicles. Other treatments for thinning hair and hair loss such as laser hair regrowth therapy or vitamin therapy may also be offered to help your transplant establish itself and encourage the moved follicles to begin growing again.

Ask your surgeon for further advice on which will be most appropriate in your particular case.

Who can I talk to about getting a hair transplant?

Hair transplants produce excellent, natural-looking results and the FUE hair transplant recovery time is minimal and usually uncomplicated. Understanding what to expect can ensure there’s no panic when hair falls out, or when it takes several months to get the glossy and thick head of hair you were hoping to achieve.

If you’re interested in getting a hair transplant we would love to talk to you about the process including what to expect regarding hair transplant aftercare. We know that it can be scary to go through a procedure like a hair transplant, which is why we offer a free, no-obligation introductory call to all our customers.

We have performed over 10,000 procedures since 1975 and having garnered so many 5-star hair transplant reviews, were awarded the best hair transplant clinic in the UK in 2023 for a third year in a row.

Hair Transplant Recovery: What to Expect, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Written by Rebecca Munton
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on October 4, 2023
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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