Seeing results after hair transplant surgery can take time. The process can begin as early as four months after your procedure, but total growth and effects only occur at least 12 to 18 months.
New hair grows, and the transplanted hairs gradually mature into thicker and darker hair. The result is a natural-looking head of hair.
During the Healing Phase
As with any surgical procedure, there are certain things you must do and avoid to ensure a successful recovery period. One of the most critical aspects of recovery is adhering to your doctor’s instructions, designed to promote the best possible outcome for your transplant.
In the first few days following your surgery, you will notice minor swelling and a slight redness in the forehead area. This is normal and will dissipate within a few days.
If your physician has given you over-the-counter pain medication, these can help with the mild discomfort during this time. You should also avoid rubbing the scalp as this may cause further irritation.
After the initial healing phase, your hair will begin to grow again. However, it will grow at a slower pace than before because the transplanted follicles are still in a dormant stage.
Some patients experience hair loss in the transplanted area called “post-shock loss,” a normal and natural part of recovery. This loss will be minimal, but it can be unpleasant for those accustomed to seeing their head of hair full and thick.
The hair transplant growth timeline is usually a few months. The average patient will see new growth in their recipient area in the next few months. These new hairs are typically thin and delicate but will eventually grow.
During the Growth Phase
The follicles used in your hair transplant will go through a natural growth cycle after surgery. This cycle consists of the anagen (growth phase), catagen (resting phase) and telogen (shedding phase).
Your follicles may shed some hair in the first few days after your procedure. This is normal – it’s part of your body’s process to ensure the new grafts are safe and thriving in the scalp. It’s also an excellent time to avoid washing your hair or showering too much, as this can cause further shedding in the grafts.
Once your follicles have settled in, they’ll enter a period called “resting,” – which usually lasts about three months. Your follicles should then start growing hair gradually. Still, it’s important to remember that the individual strands are programmed for their particular growth cycles, so you must be patient and wait for each follicle to grow to its full potential before you can see any changes.
In the initial stages, the transplanted follicles will look thin and a little frizzy as they grow. This is a normal stage of the process. Your follicles will eventually mature, becoming thicker and darker in color and more natural looking – they’ll still look somewhat “wirey” but the texture will be much more uniform.
During the Maturation Phase
In the first three months after your transplant, you will see a lot of shedding (called shock loss) as hairs that have been traumatized by the surgery fall out. Fortunately, this is natural and not indicative of any permanent damage to your new follicles.
During the second and third months, new hairs begin to grow. It’s important to remember that growth rates will differ from person to person, and the location of the recipient area can affect this.
By the end of the fourth month, approximately 40-50% of your transplanted hairs should have “popped” through. This is the beginning of the maturation phase, and you’ll see a significant cosmetic benefit.
However, there’s still a lot of work ahead of you! The newly transplanted hairs are still fragile and wispy. At this stage, you can expect to see some darkening and thickening and the hair’s texture normalizing or “smoothing out” to match the rest of your hair.
The progress at this stage overjoys most patients, and they will continue to enjoy their newly transplanted hair until the final results have fully developed. It takes around ten to eighteen months for all the hairs to mature and reach their full potential. By then, most patients will have reached their new follicles’ perfect length, density, and texture.
During the Final Phase
A hair transplant is a medical procedure that involves removing a strip of skin from the back or sides of your head, dissecting it to get individual grafts from follicular units (groups of 1 to 4 natural-looking hair), and implanting these follicles into areas on your scalp where there is a shortage of hair. During this process, you may experience pain.
After surgery, you’ll likely notice redness and scabbing in the donor area. These are everyday occurrences and will subside in the next few weeks. You’ll also start to see tiny short hairs – these transplanted hairs undergoing their final growth stage before they fall out and the new ones begin to grow.
The transplanted follicles that remain in the recipient area will enter the resting (telogen) phase, which can take up to 8-10 weeks. Some will enter the exogen phase and fall out of the scalp during this time.
If your transplanted follicles do fall out, this is normal and is not cause for concern. Your doctor will give you instructions on handling this, but it’s important to remember that this is only a temporary problem.
In the next few months, your new hair will begin to grow. It may be thin at first, but it will gradually thicken and become longer and straighter. This is a natural process; many patients start seeing good results around six months after their procedure.