FUE hair transplants are known for their high success rate — one of the reasons they’re so popular with men and women experiencing hair loss. But that success rate partly depends on how patients handle the recovery period. If you receive an FUE transplant at our clinic in Toronto, it’s important that you closely follow after-care instructions from your surgeon.
Below, you’ll find information about how to manage after-care for an FUE hair transplant. Along with after-care instructions, you’ll also learn what makes FUE transplants so effective, how our doctors perform this procedure, and the timeline for recovery.
What Is FUE?
Follicular Unit Extraction, also known as FUE, is a form of hair transplant which is performed by taking hair follicles out of the skin and implanting them in areas of the scalp where the hair is thinning. FUE helps the hair in the new area grow back thicker, and looks completely natural after the healing process is complete.
What Happens During My FUE Procedure?
Here is a step-by-step schedule of how your FUE procedure will go:
- Firstly, you will talk with Dr. Bell to walk through the procedure and aftercare instructions again.
- You will then be administered your choice of numbing injections or creams to the areas of the head that will receive new hair so you are not in pain.
- The follicles will then be carefully extracted from the donor area of your head.
- These follicles will be preserved and cooled in petri dishes and there will be a short break before the hair transplant begins.
- After the break, your desired hairline or target areas will be outlined to ensure you are happy with the placement and growth patterns that will occur.
- The targeted areas of the scalp will once again be numbed and the hair follicles will be implanted accordingly.
- These follicles will be carefully placed to match your natural hair density and direction.
- The procedure will then be completed and you will be taken care of post-op accordingly, along with being provided extensive aftercare instructions and advice. This procedure will take around 8-10 hours, or 4-6 hours over the course of multiple sessions. The procedure length is entirely dependent on your areas of concern, severity of baldness, and desired results.
FUE Recovery Timeline
First Day Post-Op
- Immediately after your surgery, plan to go home and rest. You should keep any light dressing applied to the treatment areas on for the first night.
- You will be provided with a spray bottle of sterile solution that you should spay on the recipient area every half hour until you go to sleep. This speeds up healing and prevents infection.
- Right before bed, place a disposable pad on your pillow to absorb any secretions.
- Sleep with your head elevated for the first few nights to decrease swelling – we recommend a neck pillow to help.
- Spray the recipient area every half hour upon waking up, and take any prescribed medication as directed.
- Remove the bandage/dressings 24 hours after your surgery, and always remember to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your scalp.
- Do not rip off the bandage – you can apply warm water to wet it so you can remove it gently.
- Wash the donor area gently with a mild shampoo after removing the dressing. Rinse the donor area with water, apply a small amount of baby shampoo to your hands, and spread the shampoo on the donor area, gently massaging the scalp. Rinse thoroughly, dry naturally, and repeat twice a day.
- Apply antibiotic ointment suggested by Dr. Bell to the donor area before bed for 5 days following your procedure.
- Do not pick at or scratch any scabs that form on the scalp. The scabs will gradually fall off on their own.
- In the evenings, soak your whole head with lukewarm shower water for 15-20 minutes and absorb any remaining water with a towel, patting instead of rubbing your scalp.
- Continue to wash the implanted areas with baby shampoo, using gentle movements to wash off the small crusts.
- Wash your scalp like this 2 times a day, if necessary, until the crusts at the implanted area fall off. Do not rub the crusts, as it is not necessary to remove them all the first time around.
1-4 Weeks Post-Op
- Within 1-4 weeks after your FUE procedure, the upper visible parts of the transplanted hairs might fall off, but the follicles will remain in place and enter a dormant phase.
After 3-4 Months
- After 3-4 months, you will begin to see new hair appearing and can enjoy a more voluminous look to your locks!
- After 12-18 months, the final results will be visible and you will be done healing. You can now show off your new, full head of hair with confidence. Continue to follow any necessary guidelines from Dr. Bell and contact him if you have any questions during or after the healing process.
How Can I Care for My Hair During My FUE Recovery?
Bandages & Bleeding
After your FUE hair transplantation, you will leave with dressings on the back of your head which you can take off 24 hours following your surgery. You also may experience some leaking, especially of blood, from the donor and implanted area. This is completely normal and can be helped by applying steady pressure to the bleeding area with sterile gauze for 15 minutes. If bleeding persists, please contact Dr. Bell and his team.
Pain, Wound Healing, & Swelling
You will experience some minor discomfort and headaches in the donor area, but you can discuss using over-the-counter painkillers with Dr. Bell to ease any pain. Additionally, swelling around the forehead might occur on day 3 or 4 post-op. Swelling may spread to the eyes and nose, which a cold compress on the forehead can help (2-3 times a day for 15 minutes).
For wound healing and scarring, allow your scalp to breathe and do not strain yourself for at least 3 weeks post-op. Do not drink alcohol or smoke after your surgery for 2 weeks, and avoid any medication that can affect blood flow unless otherwise discussed with Dr. Bell.
Sleep & Sunbathing
You should not lie or sleep on your face as this will cause swelling, so for at least the first 3 days post-op, sleep with your head elevated using more pillows or a neck pillow to position your neck and head. Additionally, you should not expose the implanted area to direct sunlight for a month following your surgery. Following that, always apply sunscreen and try to avoid excessive sweating or wearing tight hats.
Exercise & Activities
You need to relax the day after your surgery, as you will be tired and likely on medication. Spend the day at home in a relaxing environment and focus on the aftercare instructions provided by Dr. Bell regarding showering and exercise. Avoid straining yourself with exercise or heavy lifting for 3 weeks after your FUE procedure and refrain from smoking and drinking for at least 2 weeks.
Other Side Effects You Can Manage
- Blisters and pimples on the scalp. 2-3 months following your hair transplantation, you may experience cysts around the hair follicles, although this is a rare occurrence. Small blisters always form in the first month following FUE, as the new hairs are breaking through the skin. Do not mistake this process with an infection, as blisters will often open by themselves and disappear within a few days. If bigger pimples occur, accompanied by redness, contact Dr. Bell.
- Itching. During the growing of the implanted hair, you may experience an itching sensation in the donor area or implanted area. This is a normal part of the healing process, so do not scratch the scalp – use baby oil to relieve symptoms of dryness and irritation.
- Numbness. Numbness might occur around the implanted area, but this is transitional and will go away in 6-8 weeks.
- Infections. If the donor area becomes swollen and tender, this might indicate there is an infection. A fever could also be indicative of infection. Contact Dr. Bell if these symptoms occur. To prevent infection, avoid dirty/dusty environments, use prescribed antibiotics, and keep the scalp clean as outlined above.
- Scalp redness. Redness of the scalp may occur around the implanted area, but this will fade over time and disappear on its own.
- Formation of crust. Crusts will consistently fall off for 1-2 weeks following your surgery, and it is important to not poke, pick at, or rub them. Following aftercare instructions greatly reduces the chance of more crust forming, promoting quicker healing.
Combing Your Hair
It is important to not comb your hair for a week following your operation. After this period of time, you can gently comb the non-implanted areas, and when the donor areas begin showing new hair, you can comb the hair but avoid touching the skin.
Can I wear a hat or helmet post-op?
You should let your scalp breathe as much as possible after your FUE hair transplant. Sometimes a headband is provided to prevent swelling occurring around the eyes, and a wide-tongued cap can be worn after one week. You should wait a month minimum before wearing a wool hat, or anything tight like a construction hat or motorcycle helmet.
Should I apply castor oil to my scalp after my FUE treatment?
Although castor oil can be beneficial to the scalp, it is not after FUE treatment. Do not apply anything to the grafted area for at least six months following your procedure, unless it is a gentle shampoo and warm water approved by Dr. Bell.
Can I swim and go out in the sun post-op?
You cannot swim for at least one month following your FUE procedure, and you should avoid any activities that will cause excessive sweating. Do not allow your scalp to be exposed to direct sunlight for at least a month, as well.
What kind of shampoo should be used for transplanted hair?
For the maintenance of implanted hair, use a paraben-free, fragrance-free, oil-free, low-pH shampoo, such as baby shampoo.