Hair Transplant Post-OP Aftercare and Instructions
Hair Transplantation has become the primary treatment option for various hair loss problems in men and women; ranging from hormonal factors, genetic causes or stress. One of the most popular and mainstream methods of hair transplant surgery is the FUE micrografting method, for being less invasive than FUT type methods and the overall efficiency in its hair recovery results; with the added advantage of a quick post-op recovery time.
We will try to highlight the post-op precautions which would help patients better understand this crucial stage of recovery after a hair transplant surgery. Generally, any hair transplant procedure entails hair follicles extracted from a donor site and implanted into the recipient balding or bald area. Usually in a single session, up to 5000 follicular grafts can be implanted, with each graft contain 1 to 4 hair.
What are short term precautions after the hair transplant surgery?
After the surgery, in the following few hours to the end of the week, patients need to notice and care for the newly grafted hair follicles. They must care and look for the following:
- Immediate Care
- Right after the patient is discharged after the surgery, they should, generally go home and rest with minimum post-surgery activity as possible; until the following morning.
- To help the swelling decrease, it is recommended to keep your head elevated at a 45-degree angle for at least the first three days after the surgery.
- Alcohol or Aspirin, and containing products are restricted for 3 to 5 days after the surgery.
- What to do for:
- Bleeding - can happen, the very night of the surgery; up to a few days after. It is advised that it can be stopped if you gently apply pressure over the area for 15 min; without lifting the gauze. You must press gently but firmly; not to dislodge the newly transplanted hair grafts. In case the bleeding does not stop, with rest and pressure then, it is advised to consult your transplant surgeon or hair clinic. Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that in the first few days a graft may get dislodged, it is advised not to panic; as although it is uncommon but it can happen but you will not lose that a few hair follicles at max.
- Pain Control – Pain killer medications are prescribed for the first 1 to 5 days following the surgery and they alleviate any pain due to the surgery and give comfort to the patient.
- Wound Care - Generally, you will be provided a medical kit, which will include a solution which the patients must use daily for the next 3 days with the help of sterile gauze; to keep the wounds from drying out. Furthermore, patients will be given an ointment to help heal the wounds quicker and reduce any swelling.
- Irritation and Itching - If there is itching at the donor or transplant sites, it is recommended to use the spray solution provided in the medical kits, for relief and to avoid any touching of the surgical areas. Additionally, to the ointment, you can apply pure aloe vera gel for instant relief for irritation or itching.
- Swelling – may occur, usually on the donor site or the patient's forehead, around day 2 to 4 of the surgery. This is temporary and will subside in a few days with the help of anti-inflammatory medication, which is prescribed to the patients. However, to reduce the swelling, the patients can keep their head elevated at a 45-degree angle for the first 3-5 days, using pillows.
- Infections – Although rare, but it can happen if there is exposure to dirt for 2 weeks following the surgery. It is advisable no to touch the donor or transplanted areas, except only with clean hands or gauze, to reduce the chances of an infection. If there is any tenderness or redness or swelling around the surgical site; it is advisable to report them to your transplant surgeon, immediately.
- What are the long term precautions after having an FUE transplant?
Generally, after an FUE Hair transplant, hospitalization is not needed, as latest innovations and techniques are moving towards a less invasive and faster recovery treatment for hair loss; most hair transplants are carried out on an out-patient basis. Mostly, the post-operative care, entails some precautionary measure and general recommendation which the patients are instructed to follow at the comfort of their home. The factors of care may include the following:
- Work - Generally, patients can return to work the very next day; however, it depends on the patient's work type situation. For example, if the patient’s workplace requires them to wear a helmet or some headgear then, it might be advisable to wait for 2 to 4 weeks before resuming work, according to the patient’s situation. Nonetheless, it is advisable to refrain from heavy work for 1 week or any heavy lifting at work.
- Sports and Exercise – It is recommended to avoid any heavy exercise or sports for 2 weeks after the surgery; activities which make the patient perspire and sweat must be avoided for the first week. The patient must avoid any weight lifting, swimming for at least 3 - 4 weeks, and in case of any contact sport, such as martial arts or boxing, the rest period can be around 8 – 12 weeks.
- Hats and Caps – For the first 3 days, after the surgery, the head must remain uncovered, and only lose hats can be worn, which exert very little pressure, during the first week. Helmets can only be worn after 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
- Haircut – Only after the third month of the surgery, you can get the transplanted hair cur with a pair of scissors.
- How to wash hair after a transplant – On the fourth day of the surgery, it is recommended to wash the head with Luke warm water, with the special care shampoos provided within the post-care medical kits. The best way to wash the transplanted areas is with a gentle touch, without any force to avoid any scarping and after gentle drying with paper towels. Only after the first month, are patients able to use dry towels, or bathe in a pool or seawater.
- Hair transplant Post – OP graft lifecycle and recovery
- First 2 Weeks – The most careful and necessary post-op period for any hair transplant surgery is the first 2 weeks, when the surgical sites have redness, with bouts of itching and inflammation. This time requires the most care and attention of the patients to avoid any contact with the sites and maintaining a gentle cleaning routine for the newly grafted hair grafts.
- 3rd to 8th Week – At this stage, the transplanted hair follicles may become detached from the hair and the patients may notice hair fall; you must not panic as this is normal, as the transplanted hair is going to fall and the give way to new hair growth in the hair follicles which are grafted at the donor site.
- 12th Week – New hair starts to grow in the transplanted follicles.
- The 24th Week – Hair regrowth happens with lengthier and tougher hair growth.
- One Year – By this time, the difference between the natural and transplanted hair is indistinguishable and the patients can enjoy their hair revival with a natural hairline and overall aesthetic; having no distinction between their natural hair and the transplanted hair follicles.