Transplanted Hair: What to Expect After the Surgery?

by Damian S. | August 3, 2016 7:15 pm

Many patients who’ve had a hair transplant can become very concerned about the newly-transplanted hair.  In the months following the procedure, you might start comparing your own hair growth to other people’s pictures posted online, and realize that you are falling behind.  Are these emotions unfounded?  Very often they actually are.

Ugly Duckling Phase

When a harvested graft is transplanted into the recipient area, a process begins which takes several months, and it may not be what you’d expect.  In the first 3 days post-transplant, the grafts begin working to regain their blood supply1[1],2[2]. Because of this, the hair shaft is shed, starting from week 1 up until week 6 after the hair transplant surgery has been performed.  What comes next is often called the “Ugly Duckling Phase”. Only a very small percentage of patients don’t shed their hair after hair transplant surgery. Earliest hair growth starts generally from month 3.

Before we continue it is important to realize that every patients transplanted hair grows at a different rate. Some might be quicker than others. Every patient is unique and the final result should not be evaluated until 12 months in. Yet, we can give a rough estimation of how long it takes for the hair to start growing back, following a hair transplant.

Hair Regrowth After a Hair Transplant

First of all we need to differentiate between two important phases:  The penetration of the new hair graft into the skin’s surface, versus the “maturation” of the new hair shaft. When a hair shaft has just has penetrated the skin it will still undergo many changes in overall appearance that will contribute to the end result.  For a period of time it will remain very fine, weak and very light in color.  This will gradually improve as time passes, until it is indistinguishable from your original hair.

A very rough timeline would look like this:

Hair Transplant Growth Timeline

Remember that this is an average and a very rough estimation of where a patient should be in a certain time period. While most people see their desired end-result pretty much by the 12 month mark, some very late growers might actually see their final results later, at around the 15-18 month mark. As already stated, the final result shouldn’t be evaluated for at least 12 months.

The most important thing is to be patient.  If you still don’t have the desired result by 6 months, don’t start panicking.  Your best days are yet to come.

References:

  1. Perez-Meza D, Leavitt M, Mayer M. The growth factors. Part 1: clinical and histological evaluation of the wound healing and revascularization of the hair graft after hair transplant surgery. Hair Transplant Forum Int.2007;17:173–5.
  2. Perez-Meza D. Wound healing and revascularization of the hair transplant graft: role of the growth factors. In: Unger W, Shapiro R, editors. Hair Transplantation. 4th edn. New York: Marcel Dekker; 2004. pp. 287–94.
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Endnotes:
  1. 1: #1
  2. 2: #1

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