Hair Transplant Recovery: A Comprehensive Timeline

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Lauren Panoff

Updated 05/07/2024

For many people, hair is a big part of their identity, often one that many of us take for granted until we start to lose it. There are a number of hair loss treatment options out there to try to get it back, including getting a hair transplant.

However, unlike with hair loss medications, for instance, it’s necessary to take into account hair transplant recovery as part of the process. Hair transplant healing time typically takes up to 14 days, though it will be 12 to 18 months before full recovery and regrowth occurs.

We’ll break down what the process looks like, as well as how to set yourself up for the best recovery — and best head of hair — thereafter.

A hair transplant involves relocating hair follicles from one part of your body (the donor site, which is often the back of the head, where hair is genetically resistant to balding) to the thinning spots on your scalp (the “recipient” areas).

While a hair transplant isn’t the same thing as a kidney transplant, it’s still a surgical procedure that involves careful preparation and planning for your recovery time. A hair transplant typically involves several key stages over a timeline spanning several months.

Let’s recap the basic steps of having a hair transplant.

Before your procedure, you’ll have an initial consultation with a qualified hair transplant surgeon where you’ll talk a lot about your scalp, including the pattern of hair loss you’re experiencing. The choices for hair transplants have expanded substantially in the last decade (stem cell hair transplant is now even possible), so your surgeon will talk you through the available options and realistic expectations for results and hair transplant recovery time.

Prior to hair restoration surgery, your surgeon will work with you to outline a natural-looking hairline that complements your facial features and the aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve.

On the day of your procedure, your scalp will be thoroughly cleansed, and you’ll receive local anesthesia to numb the areas involved. You may also receive antibiotics to prevent infection, steroids to reduce swelling and anti-anxiety medications if nerves are high.

To take hair from the “donor” areas, your surgeon might use one of two main techniques:

  • Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT): With this technique, a strip of skin containing hair follicles is surgically removed from the donor area, and the incision is closed with sutures.

  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): With an FUE hair transplant, individual hair follicles are extracted directly from the donor area using a small punch tool, leaving tiny circular scars that are less noticeable than those from FUT.

Once the donor hair is extracted, this tissue (called a hair graft) is placed under a microscope so your surgical team can meticulously separate individual follicles and make sure they’ll look natural when placed.

To place your hair transplant in the recipient areas, your surgeon creates tiny incisions along the predetermined hairline design. The grafts are distributed evenly and precisely to mimic your hair’s natural growth patterns.

From there, voila! You’re ready to start the recovery phase.

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Your hair and scalp care in the weeks to months leading up to a hair transplant are important, as they can influence your recovery following the procedure. Here are some of the things you may need do to help optimize your scalp health and prepare for transplant:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Nutrition matters, even for your hair. Ditch the ultra-processed junk and prioritize a variety of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and other lean proteins that fuel your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

  • Get adequate sleep. Quality sleep helps your body repair and recharge to support overall health and immune function. Sleep deprivation may worsen hair loss for men. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults.

  • Practice stress management. High levels of stress can disrupt the hair growth cycle and may impact the success of the hair transplant. Try things like meditation, yoga and stretching, nature walks and listening to calming music.

  • Incorporate scalp messages. As often as possible, incorporate 15-minute head massages to stimulate your hair follicles and increase the elasticity of your scalp.

  • Use sun protection. Wear a hat if you’re planning to be outside long, especially as you get closer to your procedure. This helps limit sun damage and irritation.

  • Don’t get a haircut. Allowing your hair to grow freely and naturally before your transplant ensures that there’s enough hair available to be moved.

  • Avoid certain medications. With the approval of your healthcare provider, certain medications are best avoided while getting a hair transplant. For example, medications that thin your blood (even over-the-counter ones like ibuprofen or aspirin) are generally stopped prior to surgeries to prevent bleeding complications. Blood thinners like warfarin may even worsen hair loss.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your scalp hydrated. This helps support your overall health as well as tissue regeneration post-surgery.

  • Avoid harsh treatments. Don't use harsh or abrasive chemicals, dyes or styling products on the hair and scalp leading up to the transplant.

A common question is how long does it take to recover from hair transplants? Hair transplant recovery generally takes 10-14 days, during which you may experience redness, swelling and scabs, all of which are normal. By one year, most men see significant improvements in hair growth.

The success of a hair transplant procedure not only depends on the surgical technique that’s used but also on how carefully you manage your recovery process. Here’s a detailed overview of the hair transplant recovery timeline for men undergoing a hair transplant.

Immediate Postoperative Period (Days 1-3)

You just underwent a surgical procedure, so it’s normal to experience mild discomfort, swelling, redness and small scabs in the involved areas.

Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication, and you’ll be advised to avoid strenuous activities post-op to help minimize the risk of complications like lightheadedness, pain, swelling, itching and infection.

Hair Transplant After 7 Days

Swelling and redness typically peak within the first few days before starting to subside. You’ll be advised to gently wash your scalp with a mild shampoo and keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection.

Note that you may notice some of your transplanted hairs shedding, but this is a normal part of healing called “shock loss”.

Hair Transplant After 2 Weeks

By the end of the second week, most of the swelling and redness should be resolved. Any remaining scabs or crusts typically fall off on their own as your scalp continues to heal.

While the transplanted hairs may still appear sparse at this stage, some early growth may become visible.

Hair Transplant After 1 Month

The initial growth phase begins during this time, and you may notice new hair starting to emerge from the transplanted follicles. Hair growth is usually thin and uneven during this stage, but it gradually improves over time.

It’s common for the transplanted hairs to fall out completely before entering a dormant phase, so don’t panic if that’s the case. Your scalp may also still be sensitive, so be gentle.

Hair Transplant After 3 Months

During months four to six, you should notice pretty significant improvements in terms of your hair density and scalp coverage as your transplanted hairs continue to grow.

Long-Term Recovery (12-18 Months)

Full results from your hair transplant may take up to 12-18 months to notice. But by the end of the first year, most men see a significant regrowth and improvement in appearance.

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Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Hair transplant healing time can vary, but it partly depends on your adherence to aftercare instructions. It’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s directions to support recovery and prevent complications.

This generally includes things like being gentle with your hair and scalp, keeping it clean and dry, protecting it from the sun and not scratching. You’ll also need to take any prescribed medications and avoid strenuous activities as your new hair comes in. Sleeping with your head elevated for a few nights can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Make sure you attend your follow-up appointments as scheduled and share any questions or concerns with your healthcare provider.

Hair Transplant Aftercare Alternatives

In addition to general aftercare directions, you might consider some alternative treatments to help boost hair growth after transplant.

Finasteride Treatments

Finasteride is a medication primarily used to treat hair loss, specifically male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) and female pattern hair loss. It’s been FDA-approved for this purpose for over 25 years.

It works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone involved in shrinking hair follicles and resulting baldness.

By reducing DHT levels in your scalp, finasteride helps to slow hair loss and instead promote hair restoration.

It’s typically taken orally in the form of a once-daily pill. Results are often noticeable after several months of consistent use.

You can get a finasteride prescription through Hims, and it often works even better when paired with minoxidil.

Minoxidil Treatments

Minoxidil is another option for hair loss. While hair thickening shampoos coat your hair for temporary results, minoxidil goes deep and absorbs into your scalp to help promote hair growth.

Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which means it works by widening or dilating the blood vessels and increases blood flow. When used for male pattern baldness, minoxidil is thought to widen blood vessels in the scalp, increasing blood flow to your hair follicles. This may deliver more oxygen, nutrients and growth factors to the follicles, stimulating hair growth.

Additionally, minoxidil may prolong the anagen (growth) phase of your hair growth cycle and support the function of your hair follicles. Over time, many men find that these effects lead to thicker, fuller hair.

Minoxidil is available in various forms, including topical solutions and foams, and it’s applied directly to your scalp. Hims offers it in the following formulations:

  • Minoxidil foam: Apply half a capful of minoxidil foam to your scalp and use your fingers to gently massage it into your skin. Use twice daily (more is not better) to any areas where you’re experiencing hair loss.

  • Minoxidil solution: The minoxidil solution works best for your vertex or crown area. You’ll use it twice per day, with a dropper application to better access your scalp and reactivate hair follicles.

  • Topical finasteride & minoxidil spray: Our two-in-one topical finasteride and minoxidil spray
 can treat hair loss and regrow new hair. It’s made with two clinically proven ingredients. You simply apply a fine, quick-drying mist to thinning areas once a day.

Note that the effects of using minoxidil vary from person to person and are usually best when use is consistent. If you’re interested in adding minoxidil to your post-hair transplant routine, talk to a healthcare provider.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Hair transplant surgery has become a popular option for men experiencing hair loss. It’s a great way to utilize your natural hair and promote new hair growth at the same time.

  • Hair transplant recovery time varies. The first two weeks are when you’ll experience the most swelling, redness and scabs, but hair transplant healing time thereafter also depends on how well you’re following your aftercare guidelines.

  • Support your healing process with healthy habits. Even before your transplant, it’s important to practice stress management, healthy eating, scalp care and safe sun exposure to set yourself up for success. Continue these habits afterward, too.

  • Consider alternatives to help support final results. While your scalp heals and your follicles start to regrow, some men like to add hair-boosting treatments like minoxidil, finasteride or a combination of both. Talk to your healthcare provider about doing this.

Interested in exploring additional hair loss treatment options with Hims? Start by taking our online assessment.

18 Sources

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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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