Following hair transplant surgery, you should relax comfortably for a day, with only minimal activity. You should feel comfortable about returning to work in a day or two, providing your work does not involve strenuous physical activity. The recovery time following your hair transplant procedure is usually relatively brief, assuming that sensible guidelines are adhered to.
Expect a call the day following your procedure to check up on you and see if you need to come to the office (most patients do not).
For the first one to three nights after your surgery, plan on sleeping with your head elevated at a 45-degree angle. This will help reduce swelling, which will help keep you comfortable.
To reduce bleeding
DO NOT USE aspirin or aspirin-containing products for three to five days after surgery, and DO NOT drink alcohol during this time, either. These can result in increased risk of bleeding.
If bleeding does occur, which is possible the night after surgery or even a few days following your procedure, it almost always stops with the application of firm, steady pressure for about 15 minutes. Use a gauze pad, apply pressure, and DO NOT lift the gauze during the 15 minutes. Pressure should be firm, but not so firm as to dislodge any grafts.
If there is bleeding at the donor site, remember to gently lift any hair covering the area so the hair doesn’t become matted and adhere to the donor area.
Should bleeding persist, contact the office at 1-800-510-3386 for additional guidance.
Very rarely, a graft can be dislodged or combed out in the first few days following your procedure. If this happens, do not panic. You won’t lose more than a few hair roots, and as your transplanted hair begins to grow in, any slight loss of grafts will be covered up.
Discomfort following any surgical procedure is not unusual, and you may require medication to control your pain for the first one or two nights following surgery.
While aspirin and similar products should be avoided, you can safely take prescription Tylenol 3, Vicodin, or Percocet according to your surgeon’s instructions.
Care of your surgical site / “crusting”
For three days following your surgery, thoroughly moisten two or three pieces of gauze with saline solution (the office can tell you what proportion to use) and apply the gauze to the transplant site. Do this twice a day, for 30 to 60 minutes each time, for three days. This helps keep the area moist and speeds the healing process.
Crusting will develop at your recipient site and may continue for 10 to 14 days.
Apply an ointment like Bacitracin, Polysport, or Aquaphor to the recipient site several times a day. This, too, will keep the site from drying out and help to reduce crusting during your healing process. These products are greasy, so you may find water soluble K-Y gel to be a better choice.
Swelling may occur, especially after your first transplant, about two to four days after surgery. It most commonly develops on the forehead, and it will not cause any lasting problems. The pull of gravity may bring the swelling down to your eyelids, and in rare cases you may develop a black eye. It may be unsightly, but it’s temporary.
You can reduce swelling by remembering to sleep with your head elevated about 45 degrees for about three nights. This can be easily accomplished by adding pillows on your bed, or by sleeping in a recliner.
Reducing risk of infection
Infection following hair transplant surgery is rare, but it can increase the recovery time required. You can reduce the risk by avoiding exposure to airborne dirt at work, home, or play for two weeks following surgery.
Do not touch the donor or recipient areas without first washing your hands!
Call the office to report any increased tenderness or redness at your surgical sites.
Refrain from strenuous activity, whether work or play, for a full week following your surgery.
Refrain from activities like weight lifting, lifting any heavy objects, or swimming in chlorinated water for at least ten days, preferably for two weeks, following surgery.
If your work isn’t strenuous, you may return to light duty the day after surgery, but most people take two or three days off. If you’re concerned about swelling and crusting at the surgery site, you may be more comfortable taking a full week off, especially if this is your first procedure. Keep in mind that crusting will be more noticeable if you have little hair. The crusting should fall off between 7 and 10 days after your surgery.
Caring for your hair
The day after your surgery, you may wash your hair gently in the shower. DO NOT TOUCH your grafts, even lightly, for two or three days following surgery, and avoid letting the water strike the recipient area directly for at least five days. Clean the graft area by diluting shampoo in a plastic cup and gently letting the watery shampoo run over the surgery site. Rinse in the same way.
After three days, you can gently touch your grafts with your fingertips to apply shampoo in the shower.
Hair products like holding spray and styling mousse can be used a week after surgery, but remember to wash these products off daily. Be careful, when combing, not to dislodge your grafts.
Avoid using blow dryers or other hair dryers for at least one or two weeks, and then only at lower temperatures for a week more.
Salon services like cuts, colors, or perms should be delayed until all crusting has fallen away from your scalp.
Your donor area will have sutures that will usually be removed 14 days after surgery.