When will my hair grow after hair transplant surgery?
Hair transplantation intends to restore hair growth to places of the scalp where growth has been limited or non-existent. It is an excellent therapy for a variety of hair loss conditions. People may require follow-up transplants for long-term success. The hair transplant cost is variable and multifactorial.
Table of Contents
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
- What is hair transplant surgery?
- Types of hair transplants
- When can you anticipate seeing hair growth?
Hair loss and thinning hair are natural aging processes, but it can also be caused by a medical condition or scalp trauma. Some people who are experiencing hair loss may opt for a hair transplant for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes. Read on to find out more about the procedure and hair transplantation results.
1. What is hair transplant surgery?
Hair grafts are microscopic pieces of the scalp containing one or two hairs that are removed from a healthy section of the head and transplanted to a bald area of the scalp. Often referred to as "hair plugs," it is a type of surgery that moves the existing hair to fill the areas where the hair density is less or hairs are completely absent. The hair transplant cost is often based on the nature of hair loss and the hair restoration technique chosen.
During a hair transplant, a surgeon would take follicles from a dense hair location, such as the back of the head, which will be referred to as the donor area. The follicles are inserted into microscopic incisions in the afflicted scalp area. The results of hair transplant differ depending on the type of transplant.
2. Types of hair transplants
Hair transplants are classified into two types:
- Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
From the donor area of the scalp, a strip of hair is removed and implanted in the recipient area. Under a stereomicroscope, the strip of hair follicles is dissected and then separated into grafts of 1-3 follicles. Incisions are made on the recipient area, and these grafts are subsequently inserted there.
- Extraction of follicular units (FUE)
FUE is a highly complex and advanced surgical treatment used to treat hair loss. FUE does not produce a linear scar, in contrast to FUT-STRIP treatment. Younger patients who desire short hair are the most likely candidates for this surgery.
However, the suitability of this treatment varies from person to person and must be determined after taking into account aspects including age, the anticipated amount of hair loss, and the patient's overall health. The surgeon will extract follicles from the donor area with a tiny punch tool.
3. When can you anticipate seeing hair growth?
Hair growth and appearance following a hair transplant are dependent on two distinct factors: "popping" and maturing. Popping is when newly transplanted hairs break through the scalp; maturity describes when these hairs become thicker, darker, and more natural-looking.
When every hair has "popped" through the scalp and each one has fully grown by thickening, darkening, and normalizing in texture, a hair transplant has reached its ultimate growth stage.
The hair follicles naturally enter a resting phase after transplantation. After the procedure, the tiny hairs in the follicles will fall out within 2-4 weeks, and until the third month, when the follicles awake, there won't be any new hair development.
Changes are seen through the 12th month, and frequently even up to the 18th month after surgery, as the new follicles awaken and start developing hair from the third month. This means that a hair transplant takes at least a year, and often even a year and a half, to reach its full development and look.
Three months later, the new hairs start to "pop" through the scalp. About 30% of the hairs will have pierced through by the end of the third month. By the fourth month, 40% and 50% of the pledges had been fulfilled.
About 60 to 70 per cent of the new hairs have fully regrown through the scalp by the end of the first six months. Most of the changes in a hair transplant from the ninth month onward are caused by maturation since, by that time, 90 to 100% of the hairs have "popped" through the scalp.
When they first enter the scalp between the third and fifth month, the hairs are extremely thin, transparent, short, and wispy. The transplanted hair mature by becoming darker, thicker, and more defined with time.
The outcome is deemed to be 40–50% or so, "matured" by the sixth month. The majority of patients at this time are satisfied and start noticing a true cosmetic benefit. They start styling, trimming, and merging the new transplant with their natural hair.
At this stage, the hair is still relatively young. The hairs are still thinner than native scalp hairs and appear "wiry" or "kinky." While most patients are overjoyed after 6 months, they must understand that this is simply the "halfway" point in terms of overall benefit. Until the eighth month, the hairs look rather "wiry." The hairs then begin to mature between the 9th and 12th month. At this point, practically all new hairs have "popped" through the scalp, the hairs have fully darkened and thickened, and the texture has normalized.
At the 12-month mark, many hair transplants are fully "grown." All of the hairs have emerged from the scalp and have fully darkened, thickened, and normalized. However, keep in mind that this schedule is only an estimate. Many patients develop faster than others, but many also grow slowly.
Because each patient has a different physiology, each patient will develop differently. This is why hair transplant specialists delay making a final assessment of success until 18 months. Many patients notice changes up to the 18th month, so don't be disheartened if your doctor believes you're still "immature" and have the opportunity to grow past the 12-month mark.
This is especially true for patients undergoing transplants in the mid-scalp or crown area. These areas expand and grow more slowly than those in the front, and most doctors feel it takes a full 18 months to see the total benefits in these places.
You must keep in mind that this is only a basic guideline. It may be useful to review as your results unfold, but it is not a guarantee, and you should not compare your progress to it religiously. With hair transplants, the destination is more important than the trip.