What to Expect During a Hair Transplant: A Step-by-Step Guide

This comprehensive guide provides you with an in-depth understanding of what to expect during a hair transplant, what is hair transplant, what to expect before, during, and after the surgery –op and post op -care, and most frequently asked questions.

What Is Hair Transplant Surgery

Hair transplant surgery is a cosmetic procedure that involves the redistribution of hair follicles from a donor site, typically the back of the head, to a recipient site with thinning or balding hair. 

This procedure is carried out by making small incisions on the recipient site and inserting the hair follicles. There are different techniques available for hair transplant surgery, including FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), and DHI (Direct Hair Implantation).

FUT hair transplant surgery – It involves removing a strip of hair from a specific area on the scalp and transplanting it to the recipient site. The hair follicles are carefully extracted from the strip before transplantation.

FUE hair transplant surgery- In this individual hair follicles are directly extracted from the donor site and then implanted into the balding or thinning areas of the scalp. This technique allows for precise placement of the hair follicles.

DHI hair transplant surgery – It is an advanced form, where hair follicles are extracted using an implanter, and immediately implanted into the recipient site. This method ensures a quicker and more efficient transplantation process.

 There are non-surgical options available for hair transplants like PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy. This procedure involves using the patient’s own blood, which is processed to extract platelet-rich plasma. The plasma is then injected into the scalp to stimulate hair growth in the affected areas.

What To Expect From A Hair Transplant Procedure?

The outcomes and potential side effects of a hair transplant procedure can vary depending on the chosen technique. Some common expectations include temporary discomfort, swelling, and pain immediately following the treatment, which typically resolve on their own.

 Here’s what you can anticipate from each type of hair transplant procedure:

FUT hair transplant:

  • This procedure involves removing a strip of hair from the back of the head, resulting in a scar. 
  • Over time, the scar will heal, but it may remain permanent. 
  • The scar is usually concealed by surrounding hair, making it less visible. 
  • However, if a larger number of hair follicles is needed, the scar size will increase accordingly.

FUE and DHI hair transplant:

  • These procedures address the issue of scarring as individual hair follicles are extracted instead of a strip. 
  • The healing and recovery time tends to be faster compared to FUT. 
  • Moreover, these techniques offer the possibility of using hair from other body parts if the existing hair on the scalp is insufficient for transplantation.

First Visit For Hair Transplant Treatment

The first visit for a hair transplant treatment can be a bit overwhelming for individuals experiencing hair loss or baldness. 

However, it’s essential to recognize that the hair transplant procedure is safe, and the initial consultation is designed to provide you with a clear understanding of the process. 

During this visit, the doctor will address various aspects, including:

  1. Determining the appropriate treatment type for your specific needs. This involves assessing the extent of your hair loss and discussing the available options.
  2. Explaining the Hair Transplant Cost and providing details regarding the financial aspects of the procedure. This ensures that you have a clear understanding of the expenses involved.
  3. Providing instructions on pre-surgery preparations. These instructions may include guidelines on medication, dietary restrictions, or any specific preparations required before the surgery.
  4. Offering guidance on post-surgery care. It’s crucial to know what steps to take after the procedure to promote proper healing and optimize results. The doctor will provide you with comprehensive instructions on post-operative care.
  5. Addressing any concerns or questions you may have. Your first visit is an opportunity to discuss any worries or uncertainties you have about the procedure. The surgeon will be there to provide any answers. 

Important Things You Should Know Before Planning Hair Transplant

Important Things to Know Before Planning a Hair Transplant:

Surgical Procedure: Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure where follicles and roots are removed from one area of the head (donor site) and transplanted to the balding area (recipient site). 

This non-invasive procedure can also be performed on other body areas like eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic region.

Transplanted Hair Treatment: Once the transplanted hair starts growing, it can be treated like natural hair. It can be styled and maintained in the same way as regular hair. There is no need for special care or treatment for transplanted hair.

Realistic Expectations: It is important to understand that hair regrowth varies from person to person. The success of the hair transplant depends on the availability of hair in the donor area. A hair transplant does not guarantee a head full of dense hair, and individual results may vary.

Long-Term Results: Transplanted hair is generally permanent and will continue to grow for a long time, possibly for a lifetime. The FUT or FUE methods can be used to extract hair grafts from the donor area.

Aftercare: Following the procedure, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare instructions. This includes taking prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications,avoiding direct sun exposure, rigorous workouts for at least a month.

Non-Transplanted Hair Maintenance: While transplanted hair is permanent and does not require medication, it is important to note that non-transplanted hair in the front of the head may still experience hair loss.

Which Is Better, Surgical Or Non-surgical Hair Transplantation?

Choosing between surgical and non-surgical hair transplantation depends on the individual’s specific hair loss condition. 

Surgical hair transplant is recommended for individuals who:

  • Have male or female pattern baldness localized to specific areas of the scalp.
  • Fall under stage 3 or higher on the Hamilton-Norwood scale, indicating advanced baldness.
  • Have experienced hair loss following a distinct pattern for several years.
  • Have suffered hair loss due to burns.

Non-surgical hair transplantation methods like PRP therapy are beneficial for individuals with diffuse thinning across the scalp. This option is more suitable for addressing hair thinning rather than restoring baldness in specific regions, which is where surgical hair transplant excels.

Both surgical and non-surgical hair transplantation have their advantages and disadvantages:

Surgical Hair TransplantationNon-Surgical Hair Transplantation
Recovery and HealingLonger recovery and healing periodShorter recovery and healing period
CostTypically, more expensiveGenerally, more cost-effective
Pain and SwellingMay involve more pain and swellingMinimal pain and swelling
Risk of InfectionSlightly higher risk of infectionLower risk of infection

The Duration Of The Hair Transplant  

The duration of a hair transplant procedure depends on several factors, including the number of grafts being implanted and the specific procedure being followed. Here are the key points regarding the duration of a hair transplant:

Number of grafts being implanted:

  • The duration of the surgery is influenced by the number of grafts to be implanted.
  • Grafts refer to individual hair roots, and each graft can contain 1-5 hair strands.
  • It is important to note that some clinics may use the terms “hair” and “grafts” interchangeably, which can lead to confusion as each graft can have multiple hairs.

Procedure being followed:

  • There are two main types of hair transplant procedures: FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant).
  • FUE involves individually extracting each hair unit or graft, making it a labor-intensive process.
  • The duration of an FUE surgery depends on the experience and skill of the hair transplant team. Our highly skilled team can implant up to 3500 hair grafts in approximately 8 hours.
  • FUT, also known as Strip Hair Transplant, involves surgically removing a strip of scalp from the donor area to extract hair grafts.
  • After the strip is removed, an experienced technician dissects and separates the hair grafts.
  • The duration of a FUT procedure typically ranges from 4 to 6 hours.

What To Do Before The Procedure

Before undergoing a hair transplant repair procedure, it is important for patients to follow specific instructions to ensure their safety and increase the chances of a successful outcome. Here are some guidelines to follow before the procedure:

Medications and Supplements:

  • Avoid aspirin-based medications, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Refrain from using ibuprofen and vitamin E supplements, as they can also increase bleeding risk.

Smoking and Alcohol Consumption:

  • It is advised to stop smoking for a certain period before the procedure, as smoking can interfere with healing and increase the risk of complications.
  • Limit alcohol consumption leading up to the medical procedure, as excessive alcohol intake can affect the body’s response to the surgery.


  • Avoid heavily spiced foods, such as chili and garlic, as they can potentially increase bleeding during the procedure.

Hair Preparation:

  • Do not cut the hair within two weeks before the surgery, as the hair length may be needed for the transplant procedure.
  • Wash the hair thoroughly before the procedure to reduce the risk of infection.

Anesthesia and Sedation

Anesthesia and sedation are important components of hair transplant procedures as they help alleviate discomfort and pain for the patient. Anesthesia involves the use of medication to block pain sensation in specific areas of the body during the procedure.

During hair transplant repair procedures, local anesthesia is typically administered to numb the donor and recipient areas of the scalp where hair grafts are harvested and transplanted. In addition to anesthesia, sedation is also employed to help patients relax or even sleep during the procedure.

The type of sedation utilized can vary depending on the patient’s requirements and the surgeon’s recommendations. Options may include oral sedatives or intravenous (IV) sedation.

 Anesthesia and sedation play a crucial role in ensuring the patient’s comfort and safety throughout the hair transplant repair procedure in treatment rooms.

Administration Of Local Anesthesia And Sedation

Local anesthesia is used in hair transplant procedures to numb the donor and recipient areas of the scalp, providing pain relief during the surgery.

In contrast, sedation is administered to help patients relax or sleep during the procedure.

Local Anesthesia:

  • It is injected directly into the scalp, blocking the sensation of pain.
  • The patient remains awake and alert throughout the procedure.

Benefits of Local Anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia has a quick onset and wears off relatively quickly after the surgery.
  • This allows patients to resume their normal activities shortly after the hair transplant.
  • It provides a comfortable experience during the procedure.

Sedation Options:

  • Two common types of sedation used are oral sedation and intravenous (IV) sedation.
  • Oral sedation, in pill form, produces a mild to moderate sedative effect while keeping the patient conscious.
  • IV sedation, administered through an injection into the vein, induces a deeper level of sedation and may lead to temporary memory loss.

Benefits of Sedation:

  • Both oral and IV sedation help reduce patient anxiety and enhance overall comfort.
  • Sedation ensures a more relaxed experience during the hair transplant surgery.

Considerations and Precautions:

  • Anesthesia and sedation carry some risks, including the possibility of allergic reactions or adverse side effects.
  • Patients should discuss their medical history and concerns with the surgeon before the procedure to ensure safe and effective administration of anesthesia and sedation.
  • Proper precautions should be taken to ensure patient safety during the hair transplant repair procedure.

How Long Would Anesthesia Take 

Local anesthesia has a quick onset and typically wears off within a few hours after the hair transplant repair procedure.

Patients may experience mild discomfort or pain during the recovery phase, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

Effects Of Sedation

Effects of Sedation are as follows:

  • Sedation provides a deeper level of relaxation during the hair transplant procedure.
  • It may cause temporary amnesia, leading to a lack of memory of the surgery.
  • The effects of sedation can last several hours after the procedure, during which patients may feel dizzy or tired.

Extraction And Transplantation Of Grafts

The extraction and transplantation of hair grafts play a vital role in the hair transplant procedure. Specialized tools are used by the surgeon to extract the grafts from the donor area. 

These grafts are then meticulously placed into the recipient area to achieve a natural and aesthetically pleasing result. The process of extracting and transplanting the grafts requires a high level of skill and precision to ensure the success of the hair transplant. 

It is through this meticulous process that failed hair transplants can be avoided, and patients can achieve satisfactory outcomes.

The Detailed Process

The detailed process of graft extraction and transplantation in hair transplants involves specialized techniques and precision. Two common approaches used in this procedure are Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE):

  • Individual hair follicles are extracted from the donor area using a micro-punch instrument.
  • The extracted follicles are then transplanted into the recipient area.
  • This method results in nearly invisible microscopic scars, making it a popular choice for those concerned about scarring.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT):

  • A strip of scalp is surgically removed from the donor site.
  • Individual hair follicles are extracted from the strip.
  • The surgeon then transplants these follicles into the recipient area.

Both FUE and FUT techniques require a high level of skill and precision to achieve natural-looking results. The choice of technique depends on various factors, including the patient’s needs, surgeon’s recommendations, hair type, and treatment area size.

Closure And Dressing

Proper closure, dressing, and post-operative care play a vital role in achieving successful outcomes after a hair transplant repair procedure. Here are the key points:

  • The surgeon will use stitches or staples to close the donor area following the hair transplant repair procedure.
  • A dressing is applied to safeguard and protect the closed area after the surgery.
  • Closure techniques play a significant role in ensuring the transplanted hairs’ success.
  • The dressing serves as a barrier against potential infections and external elements that could interfere with the healing process.
  • Appropriate care and maintenance following closure and dressing are essential for optimal results.
  • Following the surgeon’s instructions regarding dressing changes and care routines is crucial for a successful hair transplant repair.

How Long Is The Recovery Period After A Hair Transplant?

Recovery Period After Hair Transplant:

FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)

  • Advantages: Shorter recovery time compared to FUT.
  • Multiple sessions may be needed for desired density.
  • Quick recovery allows for back-to-back sessions.
  • Generally, a few days of rest are sufficient for recovery.
  • Return to normal activity after a day or two.
  • No need to worry about negative impact on the transplant.

FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation)

  • Longer recovery time compared to FUE.
  • Full recovery may require several days of rest.
  • Advised to take a day or two off from work after the procedure.
  • Longer recovery period allows for proper healing and restoration.

What Happens Immediately After Hair Transplant Surgery?

Immediately following a hair transplant surgery, patients can expect the following:

  • Bruising, swelling, and tenderness in the donor and recipient areas are common.
  • Patients may experience pain, itching, or discomfort, which is normal and should subside within a few hours or several days.
  • The surgeon may prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain-relieving medications to manage these post-surgery complications.

To ensure proper healing and recovery, the following instructions should be followed:

  • Patients will be provided with a spray bottle and water solution, which should be used to spray the donor and recipient areas every 30-60 minutes for the first 12-14 hours post-surgery.
  • Sleeping on the back on a slightly elevated bed is recommended.
  • Strenuous activities should be avoided, and it is important to stay hydrated by consuming about 14-18 glasses of water daily.
  • Direct sun exposure should be avoided to protect the treated areas.

The recovery outcomes vary among individuals and depend on various factors such as the surgical technique used, the surgeon’s expertise, medications, and the patient’s overall health. It is important to note that the results of a hair transplant procedure improve gradually over weeks and months as the scalp heals and new hair grows.

Post-Operative Care: 1-4 Days After Hair Transplant Surgery

To ensure successful healing and recovery following your hair transplant surgery, it is essential to closely adhere to the aftercare instructions provided by your surgeons.

Regularly spray water or saline solution on your scalp to promote the healing process of the transplanted follicles, prevent infection in the incisions, and minimize scab formation.

Tips for spraying the transplanted and donor areas:

  • Use your left hand to spray the left side and your right hand to spray the right side.
  • If it’s more convenient, seek assistance from a family member or friend.
  • After completing the initial 12 hours of spraying, take a few hours to rest and sleep.

Resting is crucial during the first few days after the hair transplant procedure, as it aids in your body’s recovery process.

Certain activities should be avoided during this period to minimize risks, including swimming, alcohol consumption, smoking, and engaging in high-impact exercises.

It is important to keep your scalp well-hydrated by regularly applying saline sprays.

If you need to comb your hair, do so carefully while it is wet to prevent bleeding or irritation.

Post-operative Care: 5 -14 Days

The healing period post hair transplant recovery & rest is crucial after the procedure

5-9 Days After Hair Transplant Surgery

  • Around day 5 after the hair transplant, your scalp should have healed enough to start gently washing it again.
  • The soreness and swelling that occurred after the transplant should have mostly subsided by this stage.
  • Shampoo should still be avoided, and the focus should be on gently removing dried skin or scabs.
  • It is advisable to avoid high impact exercises to ensure complete healing of the follicles before resuming physical activities.

10-14 Days

Returning to Your Haircare Routine

  • During this period, your scalp may appear pink and have scabs.
  • Typically, this pinkness and scabbing last for 10-14 days, but individuals with pale skin may experience it for a longer duration.
  • As long as there is no pain or discomfort, there is no need to worry about the pink skin and scabs.
  • Once the pink skin and scabs have fully healed, the transplanted follicles will enter a dormant phase, causing the newly transplanted hair to fall out, temporarily restoring your pre-transplant appearance.
  • This is a natural part of the process and will eventually lead to the growth of new, healthy hair from the transplanted follicles.
  • At this stage, you can resume washing your hair as you normally would.
  • Most shampoos will be suitable if they are not overly harsh or abrasive.
  • Tea tree shampoo is a recommended choice as it is gentle and unlikely to irritate your scalp.
  • It is preferable to allow your hair to air dry, but gentle patting with a clean towel is also acceptable.
  • This washing routine should be followed once per day from days 4 to 14.
  • If you underwent the FUT procedure, your stitches will be removed 7 to 10 days after the surgery.
  • Exercise can generally be resumed at this point, but it is advisable to consult with your surgeon to ensure complete healing and safety.

Post-Operative Care: 3 Months – 12 Months After Hair Transplant Surgery

It can take 2-3 months before your new follicles fully take and begin to naturally grow new hair and reach full natural hair growth by around 10 -12 months after their procedure.

3-6 Months

Check-Up Appointments

  • After the healing of your incisions, your hair will gradually start growing naturally.
  • Check-up appointments should be scheduled at the 3-month and 6-month marks to monitor your progress and take photos.
  • It is essential to have these appointments booked to ensure a thorough assessment of your recovery and address any concerns or questions regarding aftercare and future hair care.

10 Months

Hair Regrowth Begins Naturally

  • Natural hair regrowth usually starts 2-3 months after the procedure, but it may appear patchy and uneven due to varying follicle activation times.
  • Between 5-8 months, most of your follicles should be actively growing hairs.
  • By the 10-month mark, most hair transplant patients will have achieved full, natural, and healthy hair growth.
  • Trimming may be necessary at this stage to even out the length of the hair.

12 Months

Final Check-Up & Feedback

  • After 12 months, a final check-up is scheduled to assess the overall outcome of the hair transplant.
  • The hairline and hair growth will be examined to evaluate the results.

Hair Wash

Proper Hair Wash Procedure after Hair Transplant:

  • Apply a suitable moisturizer, lotion, or oil to the transplanted area and leave it on for 15-30 minutes to soften scabs and dried blood.
  • After the softening phase, wash the scalp with warm water, ensuring gentle and careful rinsing.
  • Use a special medical shampoo to wash the donor and transplanted areas. Take a small amount of shampoo and lather it between your hands, then apply it softly to the entire scalp without rubbing.
  • Perform all washing stages with gentle palm movements, avoiding any pressure.
  • After washing, dry the hair with a paper towel by gently patting it, avoiding rubbing.
  • Continue using the moisturizer until the scabs fall off or until the scalp feels dry. Apply the moisturizer between hair washes if necessary.
  • Shampoo the hair daily to remove scabs, and within 7-10 days, there should be no more traces of dried blood or scabs on the scalp.
  • Normal hair washing can be resumed 14 days after the transplant, following the regular washing routine.
  • If needed, it is possible to wash the hair more than once a day after the operation.
  • Use the special shampoo until the bottle is empty to ensure proper aftercare.


When Can I Exercise?

The appropriate timing for exercise after a hair transplant procedure depends on the type of procedure performed. 
In the case of FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), it is advised to avoid neck-stretching exercises for up to three months to prevent tension on the donor suture area. 
However, walking is generally permitted. Swimming can be resumed after a period of two weeks following the procedure. 
On the other hand, for FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), exercise and swimming can typically be resumed after just five days.

Will There Be Swelling?

Swelling is a rare occurrence, affecting approximately 5% of patients who undergo a hair transplant procedure. It typically manifests on the forehead and may extend to the eyelids around day 4 or 5. 
Should swelling occur, there is no need to be concerned, as it usually resolves within a period of 2 to 3 days. To alleviate the swelling, you can follow these steps:
Take ice cubes or, if unavailable, a wet cloth soaked in cold water.
Place the ice cubes or wet cloth on a piece of cloth.
Apply the ice pack or wet cloth to the swollen area for 2 to 3 minutes.
Repeat this process 4 to 5 times daily for 2 days.

Do I Need To Remove Sutures?

In the case of FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation), sutures can be removed by a nurse any time after 10 days. This procedure is painless and takes approximately 10 minutes. Sometimes absorbable sutures are used, which will naturally dissolve within 2 weeks. 
On the other hand, for FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction), no sutures need to be removed. Instead, the application of Tbact ointment is advised, and no further care is required.

Will I See Hair Fall After Surgery?

It is normal to experience hair fall from the grafts around 2 weeks after the surgery. However, there is no need to panic as the roots are securely in place. 
Occasionally, you may notice whitish material adhering to the roots, but there is no cause for concern. The transplanted hair will begin to grow within 3 to 4 months, and full results can be expected within 9 months.
In addition to the grafts, you may also experience temporary hair fall from your natural hair. Rest assured that this hair will regrow. It is important to follow the prescribed hair fall medication as instructed.
Some patients may develop a few boils on the graft area approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. These boils are temporary and should not be a cause for worry.

Who Is Not A Good Candidate?

Individuals with limited hair on the sides and back of the head may not be suitable candidates for a hair transplant.
Having certain medical conditions can also make someone not an ideal candidate for the procedure, including:
Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).
Blood clotting problems.
A history of forming excessive scar tissue.
It is important to consider these factors when determining eligibility for a hair transplant, as they can impact the success and safety of the procedure.

Is A Hair Transplant Painful?

A hair transplant procedure is typically not associated with significant pain. However, it is important to acknowledge that some discomfort or mild pain might be experienced. The mentioned side effects can contribute to minor pain, but it is important to note that this is only temporary and brief.

Dr Vinod Pachade

Dr. Vinod Pachade is the founder and director of the PVR Aesthetica Cosmetic Surgery Center. He is the member of Association of Plastic Surgeons of India (APSI) and also the winner of Asia Book of Records.

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