Are you curious about what getting a hair transplant is really like? Not just the procedure itself, but the strategy, consultation, recovery, and aftercare required to get the best possible results.
Maybe you’ve been meaning to get a hair transplant for years now, or you’re only just starting to think about it. It can be a bit of a daunting process, but we’re here to map out the whole journey from start to finish, giving you the complete picture and answering questions along the way.
Keep in mind that the hair transplant experience is slightly different for everyone, and there may be some changes based on the clinic you choose, what country you live in, and other factors like your personal or medical needs.
Still, this should be a great primer for anyone wondering about the typical hair transplant timeline, so let’s get to it.
These days, research is key whether you’re switching toothpaste or getting a hair transplant. Here is how your research process should go, and what to expect during consultation.
The importance of finding a good surgeon to perform your hair transplant can’t be stressed enough. These procedures are becoming more popular and many doctors are hopping on the trend, advertising their services as high quality despite being new to the practice.
You need to be discerning when browsing doctors, clinics, and the types of procedures they offer. We recommend looking for board-certified M.D.s who specialize in hair restoration full-time, rather than generalists like cosmetic surgeons, plastic surgeons, and dermatologists.
Read reviews that are not only on the clinic’s website but also on forums and third-party pages online that will give you a more well-rounded view of the surgeon’s abilities and possible shortcomings. Realself and Yelp are great options to find good medical doctors.
Also, look through before & after photo galleries to see that the surgeon has both the technical and artistic skills to achieve your hair transplant goals. Beware of surgeons that use stock photos or photos of celebrities to lure you in.
When you have narrowed your list of potential surgeons down to a few front runners, it’s time to schedule consultations and have some one-on-one conversations.
Pay close attention during these meetings, since there’s a lot to discuss and plenty to learn. Stay away from clinics in which you only meet with a sales consultant or only have a moment with the doctor but their staff are the ones explaining your options.
When face-to-face with your doctor, bring up relevant points like your hair loss history, medical factors, family experience with balding, and what you envision for your hair restoration project.
Keep in mind that a good consultation is a two-way street, and that you should never feel pressured or pushed to get a procedure that you aren’t comfortable with.
Great surgeons will make it a team project and get to the best solution with a customized strategy for your hair.
When your first consultation is finished, you should have an idea of what procedure is likely going to be best for your needs, what the schedule will look like for recovery, and what the cost will be.
During your first consultation, you might be instantly convinced, but don’t be afraid to shop around and compare doctors and clinics when you’re still at this stage.
At minimum, take meetings with at least two surgeons and see if they have similar opinions — or if they’re drastically different. You can compare key points, such as:
When you do decide on a surgeon and clinic, schedule your date for surgery and clarify all the details you’ll need to be informed and prepared for what’s to come.
The actual hair transplantation procedure doesn’t take very long, but there’s a lot that goes into the process before, during, and after. There will also be some differences based on which procedure you select. Here’s what to expect.
As with any type of surgery, your doctor will give you a list of instructions and guidelines to follow in the weeks and days leading up to the surgery.
This could involve certain factors, including:
If you want to maximize the results of your hair transplant and avoid complications or risks, don’t ignore a word your surgeon says! This is especially true for recovery, but lead-up matters as well.
When the day of surgery arrives, be sure to get plenty of rest the night before and be fueled up with healthy food for the day ahead.
While some patients drive themselves to and from the clinic on the same day, we suggest getting a ride from a friend or family member, or taking a car service to reduce any stress or uncertainty about driving as you will have medication in your system after the procedure.
Upon entry to the clinic, you’ll be greeted by staff and have your final meeting with the surgeon before you enter the room in which the procedure takes place. You will review the plan in full, get marked up with a surgical pen, and greet the technicians who will be assisting the surgeon.
The procedure itself will take anywhere from four to eight hours depending on the type of surgery and the volume of grafts that must be transplanted.
Clients are encouraged to make themselves comfortable and can watch TV, listen to music, or just relax during the procedure. Now and then, everyone will take a break to walk around and discuss the progress of the surgery.
When surgery is complete, you’ll have a final meeting with the doctor, who will give you clear instructions for aftercare and what to expect during the recovery process.
This is the part of the timeline that needs to be demystified for many people curious about hair transplantation, so let’s map it out.
Clients should keep a close eye on their hair during the first few weeks of recovery to ensure that nothing unusual or unexpected happens to the donor and recipient areas.
While oozing and bleeding are normal for the first couple of days following surgery, this should clear up by the third day. Expect scabbing and crusting to occur at this time. It can be unsightly, but a good sign that the head is healing as it should.
It’s important that clients follow doctor’s orders very closely in this first week of recovery, including avoiding strenuous activity and avoiding any excessive contact with the scalp, despite itchiness or irritation.
If you’ve undergone Follicular Unit Transplant, also known as strip surgery, you’ll want to track the condition of the scar on the back of your head, which should be healing quickly thanks to suturing and blood flow in the region.
Some scarring will also occur with FUE, though these smaller incisions tend to heal faster and are less prone to complications.
In the following weeks, you will notice transplanted hair starting to shed in high volumes. Don’t be alarmed! This is a totally normal and expected part of the experience for hair transplants of all kinds, so be prepared.
You’ll also be able to return to full-strength activities and workafter that 2-3 week mark, as your follicles enter what’s called the resting phase and prepare for regrowth.
Once again, pay close attention to aftercare protocols at this time, including everything from medications and diet to lifestyle changes and special shampoos or tools provided by the clinic.
The next six plus months are an exciting stage that requires patience. You’ll finally start to see your newly transplanted hair grow and thrive.
These “new” hairs will appear thin and weak at first, so be gentle and don’t do too much in terms of styling. Hair will continue to grow and thicken after about six months and stay on an upward trend for about a year, when you will see the full and final results of your procedure. At this point, you’ll have a final follow-up with your doctor and do a complete assessment of your progress.
You might be encouraged to continue taking medications or trying other treatments at this time, so stay in close contact with your surgeon and keep an ongoing discussion about new techniques and technologies.
You may decide that an additional hair transplant is needed, or that you’re satisfied with your results as they are. Regardless, be in touch with the clinic and be open to new ideas as they’re introduced over time — the field of hair restoration moves fast.
Now that you know the full timeline of a typical hair transplant, you might finally be ready to take the first steps in your own hair restoration process.
Reach out to the specialists at Jae Pak MD Medical to schedule a consultation today and get the ball rolling.
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