Hair Transplant: What to Expect Before, During, and After
If you are concerned about thinning hair, your dermatologist may
recommend a cosmetic procedure called a hair transplant. This
procedure has changed dramatically since the days of the hair plug.
Results are now so natural looking that even hair stylists cannot
tell when a person has had a hair transplant. The following explains
what happens before, during, and after a hair transplant.
What Happens Before a Hair Transplant
A consultation is essential. Your
dermatologist will ask about your expectations, examine your hair
and scalp, and take a complete medical history. Be sure to tell your
dermatologist about any bleeding problems, past hair-loss
treatments, scalp surgeries, and medical conditions.
Your dermatologist also
needs to know about all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications,
vitamins, and herbal remedies that you take. If you are taking
warfarin, aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, or even garlic supplements,
tell your dermatologist.
After some discussion, you will know if you are a candidate for a
Before the procedure is scheduled, you will need to get some blood
tests. If the results indicate that a hair transplant is
appropriate, the procedure will be scheduled.
You will be given instructions to follow before the procedure. This
may include stopping certain medications and supplements as well as
starting an antibiotic before the procedure. Alcohol should not be
consumed for 3 to 4 days before a hair transplant. You will need to
shampoo the night before.
What Happens During a Hair Transplant
A hair transplant may be performed in
a dermatologist’s office or hair transplant center.
On the day of the procedure, the following will be performed:
A small strip of the scalp that has good hair growth will be
removed from the back of your scalp.
The removed strip containing the hairs will be prepped.
The prepped strip will be divided into sections and transplanted
into an area(s) of the scalp that is thinning or balding.
This procedure is generally performed under local anesthesia. After
a strip of the scalp is removed, the area is carefully sutured.
While the patient is being sutured and prepped for the transplant,
highly skilled technicians divide the removed strip into slivers of
tissue. These slivers are then dissected into grafts that contain 1
to 3 hair follicles, which will be transplanted to the site or sites
that need hair.
Depending upon the extent of the
surgery, this procedure can last from 5 to 6 hours or 6 to 10 hours.
To give patients the best possible
results, another hair-restoration procedure may be combined with a
hair transplant. A scalp reduction, scalp expansion, or scalp flaps
can improve the overall results.
Many patients require only 1 treatment session. When more than 1
treatment session is needed, the next procedure is usually scheduled
for 6 to 12 months after the first one.
What to Expect After Hair
You will be given post-procedure
instructions. Be sure to carefully follow these instructions. Care
must be taken after a hair transplant or any other hair-restoration
procedure. The area will be sore and require at-home treatment to
It takes about 5 days for the
transplanted hair to attach. During this time, it is important to be
very gentle with the scalp. Apply medication as instructed, taking
care not to rub the area. Most patients will be asked to shampoo the
area, but to do so very gently. Rubbing can cause the transplanted
hair to fall out.
Scabs will develop where the hair was
transplanted. It is important not to pick at the scabs as picking
generally causes the transplanted hair to fall out. Scabs tend to
disappear in 10 to 14 days.
Physical activity must be avoided for
7 to 10 days. This helps prevent the transplanted hair from falling
out. Normal activity, including exercise, can be resumed after 7 to
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JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors. Dermatology.
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KA, editors. Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery. United States of
America, W. B. Saunders Company; 2002. p. 231-63.
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