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What to Expect During the Hair Transplant (FUT) Recovery Process

A man is checking his scalp to see if it is fully recovered from the hair transplant surgery

Whether your hair is thinning as you age or you are losing hair in clumps, hair loss can be distressing, and finding a solution to it can go a long way in restoring one’s self-esteem and zest for life. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is a permanent solution to hair loss for all genders. Though it can take up to a year to see the full results, there are important benchmarks of recovery during the hair transplant process. This article offers a general timeline for hair transplant recovery and what you can expect at all stages.


Day 1

On the day of your hair transplant, your surgeon will extract hair follicles from areas of your head where hair growth is robust, usually the back or side, and insert them into the parts of your scalp where you are experiencing hair loss. Performing an FUT procedure ( whereby a strip of scalp is removed and the wound sutured closed ), allows the hair at the back of the scalp to cover the sutures. That way the excision line will be camouflaged.   There can still be  lingering effects of anesthesia at the end of the procedure , so it is advisable to have someone assist you home.


You should also make sure you eat something substantial after your surgery and take any antibiotics as directed.  


Avoid drinking alcohol on the day of the surgery and while taking any medications. You should also avoid exercise, such as lifting anything over 10 lbs. Do not bend your head below your waist or even bend your head to read.


Day 2

After a night’s rest, you will return to the surgeon’s office to have your scalp and grafts inspected. The day after most patients do not experience any pain although there may be the beginnings of swelling of the forehead which can take a few days to disappear.,  Your surgeon or their staff will provide you with tips to alleviate this.


Over-the-counter pain medication such as Advil can be used for up to a week as required, and you can use an ice pack to help reduce the swelling. DO NOT PLACE THE ICE PACK DIRECTLY ON THE GRAFTS OR STITCHES. The ice pack is to be used on the forehead only to minimize swelling coimg down into the face.


You should also be sleeping at a 45° angle for 3 days or until the swelling in the area has gone down.


Shampoo instructions will be given on the day of surgery and you should start to shampoo twice a day starting the day after until your stitches are removed. However, please make sure you do not let water from a shower beat directly onto the grafts for 7 days.


Hair Washing Procedure

·       Fill the bathtub with warm water

·       Lay back until the water covers the stitched areas

·       Soak and gently massage the areas for 10 minutes

·       Then apply shampoo (nothing medicated) TO BOTH THE FRONT AND THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD and gently massage

·       Rinse well with clean water

·       After the stitches are removed wash your hair daily until all the crusts have fallen off


Days 3-7

Your FUT hair transplant recovery has begun! The initial pain, if there is pain,  should only last around 12 hours, after which it can be managed by Advil. The swelling will slowly subside and some minor itchiness maybegin as scabs form at both the donor and recipient sites. Do not rub or scratch these scabs, or crusts, as you do not want to damage the grafts or compromise their effectiveness.


By days 5-7, your donor site incision line  (where the follicles were removed) will be mostly recovered. The grafts will have taken.


Weeks 2-4

. Very rarely 1  or 2 of the grafts may look red or tender, similar to an ingrown hair in the beard area. A hot compress will in most instances allow the graft to heal. Always contact your doctor if you have any concerns.


The most disconcerting aspect of this stage is the loss of hair from the transplanted site. This is normal! It occurs because the hair follicles, now transplanted and set in their new position, are resting. The transplanted hair will start to grow at 3 months , as will any shed hair at the donor site.


Weeks 2-14

As your FUT hair transplant recovery continues, hair is shed and the follicles recuperate. They usually begin to produce visible hair around the 12th week. The transplanted hair will be thin and fine, but it will become thicker and darker over the months.


Week 15 and Beyond

You and your follicles are recovered at this point, but your new hair will continue to grow and change. The new hair will be at least 1.5 inches long at 6 months and fully mature at 12 months. Be sure to attend your follow-up appointment with your surgeon so they can evaluate the results.   


Ready for a FUT Hair Transplant in Toronto?

Dr. P Cotterill is an American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery certified expert with over 35 years of experience in the field of hair restoration in Toronto.

We offer male, female and transgender FUT hair transplants. If you would like to learn more about FUT hair transplants or book a consultation with Dr P Cotterill , contact us today.




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