What to Expect After a FUE Hair Transplant

Many patients decide to undergo a FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) hair transplant procedure where individual follicular units are extracted from the skin one at a time. The grafts are individually removed from the donor area and implanted on the balding areas after they are processed and counted under a microscope.

One of the main questions patients have about hair restoration is what to expect after their FUE hair transplant. On this page, we discuss the most common conditions you need to be aware of after your FUE hair transplant.

Time What to Expect What You Should Do
1st night
  • Recipient and donor area might look bruised.
  • The donor area will have small red holes, where the grafts were harvested, that will generally heal within 2-3 days.
  • Pain is very uncommon after FUE procedures. If present, it generally improves with mild painkillers.
  • Do not touch the recipient area the first night. You don’t need to wash it the first night.
  • Cover your head with the hat we provide if you are outdoors if you don’t want to show off that you had a hair transplant done.
  • Sleep with your head elevated with the provided neck pillow to avoid rubbing off or detaching any of the grafts in your sleep. Putting 3 or 4 pillows to raise your upper body while you sleep will help you achieve the proper elevated angle.
  • Avoid alcohol the night of the procedure. It may interact with the medications you are prescribed or the medications you took during the procedure.
Day 1
  • We often offer a post-op hair wash in our office on your first day after the procedure. This could also be shown during the procedure if you want to avoid coming back for the first day after your hair transplant. On the day of your procedure, you will be sent home with a special shampoo and sponge. You will be washing your hair with them while following the instructions given to you for the next 4 or 5 days.
  • Redness or pinkish discoloration in the recipient and donor areas may continue to be present throughout the first few days. You will have some scabbing that should gradually go away after the first 5 days.
  • You need to learn how to wash your hair on your surgery day or the day after the procedure if you come back for the first hair wash appointment with us.
  • You don’t need to wash your hair for a second time on the first day. You will resume washing with the method that we show you on day two after your procedure.
Days 2-4
  • Mild bruising or pinkish discoloration and scabbing may continue to be seen in the transplanted and donor areas. This will gradually fade during the first week.
  • Any swelling on the forehead and around the eyes will start on days 2 and 3. The forehead swelling will usually reach its peak on day 4 and subside after that. We usually provide steroids to be taken for the first few days to minimize the swelling.
  • Avoid touching, scratching or rubbing the transplanted area for the first 4 days. The grafts will be stronger in their new home starting on day 5 after the procedure and they won’t be able to be dislodged by an accidental touch any longer.
  • Avoid sun exposure for more than 5 minutes. Sunburn may damage the transplanted hair and sun can affect the pigmentation of your skin where active healing is going on.
  • Keep your upper body elevated while sleeping to help keep the swelling on the forehead reduced.
  • You can run or walk in the gym after the procedure. Don’t wipe your forehead as that may dislodge your grafts in the first 4 days.
Days 5-7
  • At this point, the grafts are taken and cannot be dislodged from the transplanted area. The scabbing may still be present during this time. You can wash more aggressively until the scabs are all gone.
  • By day 7, most people don’t show any sign of a procedure in their donor area.
  • Some itching and mild burning at this point could be a sign of healing.
  • If you still have the scabs on the transplanted area, you must leave the shampoo on longer (10 or 15 minutes) to make the scabs softer and help you wash them off during this time.
  • Using skin moisturizer on the scalp can help with itching. If itching is not controlled, the doctor can prescribe a mild topical steroid for it.
  • You can resume all of your regular physical activities and sports after day 5.
Weeks 2-4
  • Hair follicles often enter the resting phase and start losing their hair shafts.
  • You may see some pimple-like lesions on the transplanted or donor area. They are called folliculitis. They behave like regular pimples and usually subside with no intervention.
  • Don’t panic if you shed transplanted hair. Continue washing your hair as you normally do. You can cut the rest of your hair and style it as you desire. You can also dye your hair at this point.
  • If you have more than 2-3 pimples, or if they are painful or inflamed, you should contact the doctor who can incise them for you in the office.
  • Continue avoiding sun exposure that may lead to altered pigmentation of the transplanted or donor area.
Months 2-3
  • The transplanted hair starts to grow in as thin and fine hair and gradually becomes longer and thicker within the next few months.
  • Some patients may experience thinning of their existing hair in the transplanted area. This is referred to as shock loss.
  • Continue taking any medications that the doctor recommended to avoid or minimize shock loss.
  • Treat your scalp and hair normally with regular hair washing as you always do.
  • Continue avoiding prolonged sun exposure.
Months 4-6
  • Newly growing hair starts to become more visible as they grow to become longer and thicker
  • All of the new hairs have grown by the end of this period but they are not at their final thickness or length.
  • Wear a ball cap to cover your head if you have to go outside in the sun. If you cannot use a cap, wear a strong sun block SPF 30 and over when exposed to the sun.
Months 6-12
  • The transplanted hair continues to grow and becomes thicker and longer so you can style them the way you want.
  • You might begin to see textural changes in the hair from fine baby hair to thick and kinky and then normal hair as it continues to grow.
Months 12-18
  • The final appearance of the hair transplant is visible and you can start combing and styling it the way you want.
  • Congratulations on making this change in your life. Enjoy your new look!