Before we start to find out about what to expect after your hair transplant surgery, it is important to remember that everyone is different. We have operated on hundreds and hundreds of patients, but no two patients are the same. Your post-operative recovery will be different to someone else, in fact I am often told by patients who have had more than one surgery that their recovery the second time round was not the same as the first time.
Aftercare starts from when we hand you the mirrors at the end of the day and you take a look at your restored hairline/crown. You will see hundreds of tiny grafts positioned accordingly and it is important to remember that they are very delicate for the first 5 days. A light dressing will be applied and I will go through all of the postoperative instructions with you.
Everything you need to ensure the best result will be given to you in our patient care pack. After we have gone through the postoperative instructions together I will give you my mobile number in case any questions pop up. We don’t recommend taking public transport as the grafts are very delicate so if possible either try to be picked up or we can arrange a taxi for you.
Once you get back home you will remove the dressings and start to spray the grafts with saline, it is important to keep the grafts hydrated for the first 5 days. You will also have been given a couple of medications, co-codamol (a painkiller) and prednisolone (a steroid to reduce swelling and inflammation) to go home with.
We advise our patients to take the painkillers regularly for the first couple of days, but after that they are usually no longer required. After Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) the sensation after surgery is usually described as bad sunburn and with Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) the back of the head can ache slightly and feel a bit tighter than usual. In both cases as things start to heal patients often report that the scalp starts to feel a bit itchy, this is completely normal and will pass.
It is normal for there to be a certain amount of swelling postoperatively. In our experience this varies from person to person, the size of the case and the amount of anaesthetic used during the day. We take measures during and after your surgery to minimize the amount of swelling, however in some cases there can still be a signifiant amount. In any case the swelling should resolve by day 5/6 after surgery, which is why we advise our patients to take at least 5 days off work.
As with swelling it is a normal part of the inflammatory response for there to be some redness after surgery. The amount of redness and how visible it is will depend on the size of the case, the presence of existing hair and your skin type. Redness will usually have gone by day 5/6 after surgery, but can linger in those with very fair skin. It is important not to get too much sun for the first 3-4 months postoperatively as this can aggravate the newly transplanted area. If you are going away then sunscreen can be used from 2 weeks after surgery, but a hat is always better.
When it comes to sleeping use the neck pillow provided for the first 5 nights. The idea behind this is to stop the head from rocking around in the middle of the night. The grafts are very delicate for the first 5 days and using the neck pillow during this time will help protect them.
First hair wash is at 24 hours and for the first 5 days is described as a no-contact cup wash. This means not touching the grafts with your fingertips and not using the shower head directly, but simply pouring over a few pints of soapy water, then a few pints of clean water to rinse through.
From day 6 after surgery you will start to do the first hands-on hair wash and after day 14 you will have gone back to washing your hair normally. For most patients the tiny crusts which will appear in the first week will start to fall away from day 10-12, with not much to see by day 14.
I give the following advice to all of our patients,
‘Ideally you will be at home for the first 5 days after surgery, keeping the grafts hydrated with the saline spray. Redness and swelling should have gone by day 5/6 and the little crusts should have gone by day 10/12. Lots of people go back to work after 1 week, but 2 weeks off is ideal if you don’t want anyone to know.’
Be assured that the recovery process is not complicated and nearly all of our patients are surprised at how straightforward the process is.