Hair Transplant Aftercare: A Post-Operative Guide to Recovery

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Receiving a hair transplant is a substantial investment to help you regain a full head of hair. However, the success rate varies, depending on both the procedure and the post-recovery care. There are specific aftercare instructions to help you keep your hair follicles safe during this sensitive period.

In this article, we will guide you through each step of the hair transplant aftercare process. It includes what you should and should not do immediately following surgery until your follow-up appointment on the 7th day post-operative.

Hair Transplant Aftercare: Immediately After The Surgery

You may experience dizziness, nausea, pain or other symptoms immediately following hair transplant surgery. These symptoms are common post-transplant. Here’s how to manage them so that you can recover well.

Immediately after the hair transplant procedure, you SHOULD:

  • Have someone accompany you home. You might still be recovering from the earlier light sedation.
  • Have a meal and take your prescribed medications to reduce the risk of swelling, infection and pain.
  • Hydrate well. It is easy to get dehydrated with the humidity in Singapore.
  • Spray the implanted grafts every 15 minutes generously to ensure they are always kept moist. This is an important step because, at this point, the follicles are solely dependent on the surrounding tissues before the blood supply reconnects.
  • Apply the stem cell conditioned media every three hours. This media encourages faster repair of the tissues, in turn facilitating a quicker return of vascularity.
  • Keep your head elevated. Maintain a 45-degree angle when sleeping at night to avoid swelling.

And you SHOULD NOT:

  • Drive.
  • Consume caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Smoke cigarettes as it delays healing.
  • Participate in strenuous activities. It may risk dislodging the precious grafts.
  • Scratch or rub the implanted area.
  • Wash your hair until after your review.

Hair Transplant Aftercare: Day 1 to 7

After completing the first 24-hour regimen, the next step in hair transplant aftercare is to focus on day 1 to day 7, or the day when the doctor evaluates your condition.

From Day 1 to 7, you SHOULD:

  • Continue to hydrate well.
  • Continue to elevate your head.
  • Take your medications.
  • You can start washing your hair/scalp daily with a mild shampoo that contains scalp defence essence. We will provide this along with detailed instructions on how to wash your scalp.
  • Ice your forehead if you see any swelling.
  • Reduce swelling by massaging your forehead in upward and outward motions during a warm shower.

From Day 1 to 7, you SHOULD NOT:

  • Scratch the recipient area. You might feel an itch as the healing continues and the blood starts to return to the follicles. We will provide you with antihistamine tablets where necessary.
  • Put on any headgear (e.g., NO caps, helmets, or hats).
  • Use minoxidil.

Finally, at the end of the week, the grafts would have taken root, the donor fully healed, and life would eventually go back to normal. We will see you back at the clinic to see the improvement. There will also be another session of Low-Level Laser Light therapy (LLLT) to stimulate hair growth.

Step-by-Step Hair Washing Guide During The Day 1 to 7

  1. Dispense a small amount of mild shampoo provided into the centre of your palm.
  2. Add some water and apply directly to the back and sides of your scalp (donor area).
  3. Apply gentle pressure onto the area and rub until a lather forms. DO NOT apply shampoo directly to the recipient area.
  4. Gently apply some of the lather to the recipient area.
  5. Allow it to sit for two minutes.
  6. Lean forward and rinse thoroughly with the showerhead on low pressure. Gently wash off the shampoo from back to front until the water turns clear.
  7. Pat the sides and the back of your head dry with a regular towel. Note that a kitchen paper towel is required to wipe the recipient area to avoid dislodging the grafts. Alternatively, you can let your scalp air dry completely.
  8. A hair dryer with cold air or mild heat can be used to dry hair/scalp.

Hair Transplant Aftercare: Day 7 Upwards

As the grafts have taken root and the donor area has healed, you may resume your activities as you normally do.

From Here On You MAY:

  • Shower normally.
  • Upon the doctor’s advice, apply a small amount of hydrating conditioner on your scalp for 30 seconds to soften any remaining scabs. This will help in removing the scabs with ease.
  • Resume all activities e.g., work, gym.
  • Continue to consume alcohol and caffeine.
  • Start using minoxidil.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Get a haircut to even out the donor area if you so wish to at this point or any time thereafter.

From Here On You SHOULD NOT:

  • Forcefully rub off the scabs.
  • Dye your hair until 3 months later.
  • Swim in a chlorinated pool for 2 months.
  • Go to a sauna or steam bath for 2 months.

Even after your hair transplant heals fully, we will schedule seven follow-up appointments over the next year to monitor your progress. While a year of monitoring might seem lengthy, it is necessary to ensure that your investment is worthwhile.

What to Expect After Your Hair Transplant

Day 1 – 14

On day 1, you can see many new hairs sticking up from the scalp. You will find that these little shafts of hair will grow to a slightly longer length by day 7. Eventually, the scabs surrounding them will flake off.

Since there are still a lot of scabs during this time, you need to take extra care of the donor and transplanted areas. Ensure that you cleanse your scalp gently to avoid a shift in the grafts.

Week 2 – 4

The follicles that have been transplanted may go into a resting phase during this period. You may notice these follicles growing slightly, or around 1 – 2 centimetres, which then begin to change in direction and fall out at week 4.

The loss that occurs is called the shedding phase. Many worry whether these follicles are really planted or not, but there is no need to worry because they have to fall out before entering the growth phase.

Week 4 – 10

At this point, many people panic, thinking their hair transplantation has failed because more and more of the implanted hairs fall out. However, this is a normal process as the shedding phase often continues until week 10.

Occasionally, the scalp may start to break out in pimples. This is also normal, caused either by hair caught under the skin or by the new hairs trying to grow and push their way through the scalp.

This breakout might last for a while since the new hairs will grow sporadically. A warm washcloth should help treat these pimples. If the scalp acne is severe, it may be folliculitis, which happens very rarely. Folliculitis requires the attention of the doctor and may need antibiotics.

Month 4 – 6

The transplanted hair that has been shed previously will begin to sprout during this phase, averaging 45 – 60% of growth at the 6-month mark. The reason for this is that the hair cycle takes time; it needs to shed for a little while before it re-emerges into a tangible length.

However, the newly grown hair differs from the surrounding hair. The texture is usually coarser. But don’t worry, as time passes and your hair goes through multiple phases of the hair cycle, it will eventually grow fuller, softer, and begin to look more like the surrounding hair.

Month 6 – 9

During this period, a lot more hair follicles are starting to enter the anagen or growth phase. The growth will carry on and a thickening in density and a more defined head of hair typically happen during this time.

You will also find the in-between spaces within the recipient area gradually achieving coverage. At the end of the month-9 mark, you can expect to see 85% growth.

Month 9 – 12

During this period, there will be additional thickening with an expected 20% density increase. This is why it is referred to as ‘the pinnacle of effects’, where the transplanted hair reaches its most optimal growth.

However, a cycling phase may occur in which coarse hair that has previously grown falls out and regrows as softer hair. The shedding will be much less noticeable than it was during weeks 4 to 10, and your scalp will still be well-covered.

Month 12 – 18

The shedding phase will significantly decrease, or even stop, and you will begin to notice softer and more natural hair growth.

Final Thoughts

Hair transplant aftercare is a lengthy process. There is a physical and social downtime you will go through during the first post-operative week. Even after you can continue your regular activities at the end of the first week, there are still a few restrictions for several months.

However, the optimal results that you’ve always wanted are truly worth the persistent efforts. While the process seems long and involves shedding phases, these are temporary. With proper care, expect to see progress towards achieving your desired hair density.

If you’re considering a hair transplant, a consultation with our team leader Dr. Joshua Chong can provide valuable insights. We’ll address your questions and help you determine if a hair transplant is the right choice for you. Get in touch with us today.

 

FAQs

Is a hair transplant painful?

Mild pain is expected as the local anaesthesia gradually wears off after the first 24 hours. A slight sting around the donor and a heavy feeling over the recipient area is also normal.

While most patients find the discomfort manageable after a day or two, we’ll provide you with pain medication for post-operative comfort.

Does the discomfort persist during the hair transplant aftercare?

The discomfort may persist during the hair transplant aftercare, especially during the first week. To avoid unwanted bleeding or graft shift, treat your scalp gently and avoid picking at the scabs. Take painkillers if the pain becomes severe or difficult to manage.

Who can I contact if I experience any issues after my hair transplant procedure?

If you experience any issues with your hair transplant, know that we are always here to help. Contact us for immediate assistance.

What is considered a healthy diet after a hair transplant?

A healthy diet that can help you recover during the hair transplant aftercare consists of protein-rich foods (e.g., meat, eggs and fish) that promote surgery healing and hair follicle growth. Zinc-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, pomegranate and nuts) are also a valuable source of nutrients to help your hair follicles grow optimally.

About Terra Medical

With years of experience and excellent patient care, Terra Medical is a dedicated hair loss clinic that specialises in innovative hair restoration techniques, as well as a holistic approach to overall hair wellness. The hair clinic is led by an internationally credentialed team of doctors, Dr. Joshua Chong & Dr. Jia Cheng Heng, and a team of experienced hair restoration technicians. The clinic aims to provide precision and care of the highest standards to achieve natural-looking and long-lasting results for our patients.

We cater to each of our patient’s individual needs and expectations through comprehensive consultations and personalised treatment plans tailored by the doctors. These treatment plans can be a combination of the following: FUE hair transplant, Regenera Activa (AMT), and more.

Beyond just our clinical expertise, we understand how challenging it is to face hair loss alone. As a leading hair restoration clinic, our specialised team provides compassion, empathy, and ongoing support throughout your journey, ensuring you feel heard, empowered, and informed every step of the way.

Rediscover the joy of fuller, healthier hair. Schedule a consultation with Terra Medical today.