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Hair Transplant Downtime: How Long Do You Need?

Many of those who opt for a hair transplant have lots of questions to ask about the procedure. What does it involve? Does having a hair transplant hurt? And how much hair transplant downtime do I need?

Hair transplant downtime depends on the speed and complexity of your surgery. This includes:

Physical recovery is a simple process. It involves waiting for the scalp to heal, which usually happens within a few days. But it may take a little longer before you feel confident enough to go back to work after a hair transplant or resume your normal activities.

While both FUE and FUT give entirely natural results, they can have different results as far as downtime is concerned.

FUE hair transplant downtime: how long do you need?

FUE (follicular unit extraction) is usually preferred if you’re looking for less downtime. It’s also the most popular procedure, with almost three quarters of hair transplant patients opting for FUE in 2021 [1].

Most FUE patients have a quick hair transplant recovery timeline with minimal downtime. That’s because this is a one-day procedure which uses short-term local anaesthetic.  The process of extracting the donor grafts and transplanting them takes between 2-6 hours, depending on how many grafts are needed.

Any dressing applied to the donor site can be removed the next day. You’ll make a follow-up appointment at the clinic after 3 days to see how you’re healing, and to wash your hair after your hair transplant.

In many cases, patients can return to work within 1-2 days. But most people choose to take up to a week off work after a hair transplant to avoid probing questions from colleagues. Find out if you can get a hair transplant without anyone knowing.

FUT hair transplant downtime: how long do you need?

FUT (follicular unit transplantation) is also a single-day procedure — but you may need a little more downtime to recover from FUT surgery.

Also known as strip harvesting, FUT involves removing a strip of skin from the back or side of your head to harvest your donor grafts. Because FUT is slightly more invasive than FUE, it has a slightly longer recovery time. It also requires a little more post-surgical care.

Your hair will eventually grow to cover any scarring caused by your FUT procedure. But in the days and weeks after surgery, the wound and scar will be fairly obvious. So you may want to stay at home to protect your wounds and prevent infection.

In most cases, you can get back to your normal work and social activities after 2-3 days. But if you feel self-conscious you may wish to wait for 10-14 days.

What can cause additional downtime?

The main reason you might need extra downtime is if you develop an infection, reopen your wounds, or experience excessive hair transplant side effects. This usually only happens if you had your surgery in an unclean environment, or you haven’t cared for your grafts as recommended by your surgeon.

Choosing the right clinic is essential for minimising downtime. Choosing a cheap hair transplant in Turkey may seem like a good deal, but can ultimately cost you more in downtime and having multiple hair transplants to repair the damage. Find out how to choose the right clinic in our hair transplant cost analysis.

You might also need to extend your downtime if you have a hair transplant into scar tissue. Graft survival rates are often lower in scar tissue, thanks to poor blood supply and tissue stiffness [2]. So allowing extra downtime can give your grafts the best chance of survival.

How to minimise post-hair transplant downtime

There are many things you can do to ensure you get back on your feet as soon as possible after a hair transplant:

  • Follow your surgeon’s aftercare advice closely — this will promote fast healing with minimal scarring
  • Opt for an FUE procedure rather than FUT — FUE recovery times are usually slightly quicker
  • Choose a clean, safe hair transplant clinic with an experienced surgeon — this will minimise the risk of developing an infection or other complications
  • Get your hair cut a few weeks before your transplant — so nobody is surprised when you return to work with a post-transplant buzz cut
  • Avoid working out after a hair transplant for a few weeks — make sure you don’t dislodge your grafts due to sweat or exercise
  • Wear a hat after hair transplant surgery — you can’t wear one immediately, but it’s normally fine around 7-10 days after surgery
  • Understand the hair transplant growth chart — waiting for hair transplant results is exciting — it’s important to be patient over the next few months while your hair grows in. And when it does, treat it carefully, and wait a while before using harsh dyes or styling products.

Find out more about what to expect throughout your hair transplant recovery.

Don’t let downtime hinder your hair goals

The prospect of taking long periods off work — or letting other people see your unsightly scalp scabs — puts many people off getting a hair transplant. But modern hair transplants don’t force you to take weeks off to recover. These precision techniques creates only tiny scabs as the grafts heal. And with good haircare, any scabs usually fall off within a couple of weeks.

At the Wimpole Clinic, our surgical team has the skill and experience to create your ideal hairline — with minimal downtime for you.

To see our previous results, take a look at our before and after hair transplant gallery, and check out our hair transplant clinic reviews.

Hair Transplant Downtime: How Long Do You Need?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. ISHRS Practice Census 2022 
  2. Hair Follicle Transplantation on Scar Tissue
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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