Our team at The Hair Doctor has seen a lot of hair transplant patients come through. And nothing is more rewarding than witnessing someone’s results after about 6 months, and then again at the one year mark.
But 6 months is a really long time. And what’s worse, the first 3 of those 6 months can be super frustrating, with many patients seeing no discernible growth at all.
We promise you that the end result is absolutely worth it, but we know how important it is to set the right expectations in our patients. If you know what to expect when, you won’t be disappointed. Below we show you the typical hair transplant recovery timeline, including sample pictures from several of our own patients.
First 3 Months After Hair Transplant
By all accounts, the first three months are the most frustrating phase of your hair transplant recovery. But there is good news too. To illustrate, we are going to look at the recipient and donor areas separately.
Growth in the Recipient Area
Approximately 4-5 days after the procedure, your newly transplanted hair in the recipient area(s) will begin to shed. We understand that this can be a cause for alarm, but if you’re a Hair Doctor patient, you will have been prepared to expect this.
Help! I’ve had a hair transplant and now my hair is falling out!
It’s completely normal for your hair to fall out after a transplant. Our hair grows in alternating cycles. The act of transplantation causes the hair shafts to fall out and enter a dormant phase (also called “shock loss”). This does not mean that the implanted follicles are lost. They are safely embedded in the scalp and will start producing again after the dormant cycle is over.
Once the hair has been shed, the follicles enter the so-called telogen resting phase. This takes about 2 to 2.5 months. Please note that not all hair falls out and rests at the same time. This is a process over time, meaning your recipient area may look patchy for fairly long stretches.
Growth in the Donor Area
And now for the good news: The hair in the donor area begins to grow immediately after the transplant, since it doesn’t experience any shock loss. This means that the donor area, which as part of the procedure had to be shaved for easier access, will be covered with new growth in about a week.
The illustration below of Nashville Hair Doctor patient David Bernard’s recovery over 7 days shows you this fast progress in the donor area.
3-6 Months After Hair Transplant
Right around the beginning of the 4th month after your hair transplant, new hair will begin to grow (also called the slow-growth stage). This is the time you can finally get excited about your procedure.
See the below timeline of Nashville Hair Doctor patient Joseph B. to see the big growth spurt occurring between months 3 and 5:
If this sounds like a really long time, it is. Most cosmetic surgery yields more immediate results. It makes sense that it takes longer for hair than, say, fat removal. We have to rely on the natural growth to take place, and of course hair doesn’t grow all that fast.
Anyway, 3-4 months post-op marks the beginning of real growth. At first, the new hair coming in may be thin and curly, but don’t worry – it will thicken and straighten out as it grows longer. Again, do not get discouraged by the fact that the transplant area may look patchy at this stage. This is caused by the different stages of growth cycle within this area.
6-9 Months After Hair Transplant
Many patients see really good results around 6 months after their procedure. David Bernard’s after picture below was taken 6 months after his July 2018 hair transplant.
However, there is still a lot of growth ahead of you. In fact, at 6 months the most noticeable growth and thickening of the transplanted hair begins. This period is also called the hair busting stage. Finally, your new hair grows normally at the same rate as your other hair, about 1-2 cm per month. This means your transplant area will continue to thicken at a nice rate.
9-12 Months After Hair Transplant
Your hair will continue to thicken through this phase.
This is also an exciting time to think about styling your hair. We advise our patients to refrain from having their transplanted hair buzzed during the first year following their transplant. But scissor haircuts are totally okay, starting at about 1 month after the transplant.
Note: The donor area can be styled or buzzed as soon as 7-10 days after the transplant to your heart’s content. You just need to make sure that all scabs have healed and fallen off before you proceed.
After 12 months, we consider your hair transplant recovery to be complete, and typically schedule an in-office follow-up visit to measure results. If an in-person visit is not feasible, we typically ask for an email with your after pictures.
In reality, your hair may not stick to that exact schedule. Growth rates differ from person to person. And many patients experience growth and thickening to continue until 14-15 months after their procedure.
It’s also good to know that younger patients typically see faster results than older patients. And the frontal areas like hairlines typically also grow faster than the crown.
Other Important Information for Your Hair Transplant Recovery
Please note that this article only outlines the phases of growth after a hair transplant. For instructions on how to care for your hair in the first week after your procedure, here is some helpful information:
With over 20 years of experience in FUE hair restoration, we are a leading provider of affordable hair transplants in the Southeast. Our results speak for themselves, and our personal attention is what our patients rave about. Conveniently located in Nashville, Memphis, and Louisville, we also offer travel packages for out-of-town patients. Request Free Quote>>