What to Expect After a FUT – Strip Transplant

Many patients choose to undergo a Strip FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) procedure where hair is extracted from a strip of scalp removed from the donor area.  The grafts are transplanted in naturally occurring hair groups consisting of 1 to 4 hairs (follicular units). This method allows for the transplantation of thousands of grafts in a single session rather than multiple procedures. Here are some of the most common conditions patients need to be aware of after a Strip or FUT hair transplant:

Time What to Expect What You Should Do
1st night
  • The overall recipient may look bruised while the donor area is closed with sutures or staples.
  • The donor area is covered by a dressing that will be removed the next day during a follow-up appointment with the doctor.
  • There could be some pain and tightness in the donor area that can be improved with pain medication provided in our complimentary post-op kit.
  • Do not touch or wash the recipient area the first night.
  • While outdoors, cover your head with the hat we provide you.
  • Sleep with your head elevated to avoid rubbing off or detaching any of the grafts in your sleep. Try putting 3 or 4 pillows under you to raise your upper body while sleeping in order to achieve the proper elevated angle.
  • Avoid alcohol the night of the procedure as it may interact in a negative way with some of the prescribed medications.
 Day 1
  • We provide a post-op hair wash in our office on day one as well as send you home with a special shampoo and sponge to be used for the next 4 or 5 days.
  • The overall redness and pinkish discoloration in the recipient area begins to fade. There could be some transplanted area scabbing that should go away after the first 5 days.
  • The donor area might have some tightness or mild to moderate pain.
  • We will demonstrate how to properly wash your hair during your appointment with us.
  • You will wash your hair using this method on day two after your procedure.
  • If the tightness or pain on the donor area is too much, take a mild pain killer such as Advil or Tylenol. Although the pain should lessen after the first night, let the doctor know if it persists or deteriorates.
Days 2-4
  • Some mild bruising as well as pinkish discoloration and scabbing may linger in the transplanted area but should lessen during the course of the first week.
  • Any swelling on the forehead or around the eyes starts on days 2 and 3 and usually peaks at day 4. Steroids that we provide can help minimize the swelling.
  • The pain in the donor area is such that pain killers should not be needed by this time.
  • Avoid touching, scratching or rubbing the transplanted area while the grafts become stronger in their new home. After day 4, there is no danger of them being dislodged by accidental touch.
  • Avoid sun exposure because sunburns affect the pigmentation of skin as well as damage the transplanted hair.
  • Continue keeping the upper body elevated while sleeping in order to reduce any forehead swelling.
  • Returning to the gym to run or walk is allowed. Take care not to wipe the forehead within the first 4 days as it might dislodge the grafts.
Days 5-7
  • The grafts are taken and are now part of the scalp in the transplanted area. They can’t be dislodged. If scabbing is still present, wash the area more generously.
  • Sutures or staples are still in place in the donor area but scalp tightness should be gone.
  • Mild itching or burning at this point can be a sign of healing.
  • Leave the shampoo on longer on the transplanted area (up to 10 or 15 minutes). This makes the scabs softer and easier to wash off after the first 5 days.
  • Normal skin moisturizers help with itching. If more help is needed, the doctor can prescribe a mild topical steroid depending on the patient.
  • Resuming physical activities and sports is allowed after Day 5. Avoid activities that put a good deal of tension on the donor area like bending or heavy lifting for at least one month.
Weeks 2-4
  • Hair follicles are in the resting phase and transplanted grafts generally start losing their hair shafts.
  • There could be some pimple-like lesions on either the transplanted or donor area. These are folliculitis and behave almost like regular pimples.
  • You are scheduled to be seen in our office in 10 – 14 days from your procedure.
  • Don’t panic when transplanted hair starts to shed. Continue washing as normal. Deciding to cut the rest of your hair and style it is now allowed.
  • If you suffer from more than 2-3 pimples (folliculitis), or if they are painful or inflamed, immediately contact our office and we can bring you in so the doctor can incise them for you.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun as it can alter pigmentation of either the transplanted or donor area.
Months 2-3
  • Transplanted hair begins to grow in as thin and fine hair before becoming longer and thicker in the next few months.
  • Some patients experience a thinning of existing hair in the transplanted area. This is called “shock loss.”
  • Continue taking finasteride, minoxidil or any of the other treatment options recommended by the doctor in order to minimize the risk of shock loss.
  • Continue to care for your scalp and hair with regular washing.
  • Continue avoiding prolonged sun exposure.
Months 4-6
  • New hair growth is more visible thanks to them being longer and thicker
  • The donor scar should be almost mature and will likely exhibit its final size and shape. Some pinkish or redness in donor scar may still persist during this period.
  • At this time, all of the new hairs have grown, but they are not to their final thickness or length.
  • Wear a baseball cap outside to cover your head from the sun. If you cannot use a cap, a strong sun block (SPF 30) and over will help protect you from the sun.
Months 6-12
  • The transplanted hair becomes thicker and longer as time passes. Style your hair as you desire.
  • You have an appointment in our office at month 8 to evaluate your hair growth
  • You could see textural changes in the hair as it moves from fine baby hair to thick and kinky and (finally) normal hair as it continues to grow.
Months 12-18
  • The final appearance of the hair transplant is visible.
  • Congratulations on making this change in your life. Enjoy your new hair!