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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

If I Have Shock Loss After a Hair Transplant, How Long Until Hair Grows Back?

Q: I had an FUE hair transplant three weeks ago and some of my existing non-transplanted hair has fallen out. I was a Norwood 3V, but now I look more like a 4 or 5 without the hair that used to help cover up my thinning area. Am I destined to look balder for the next few months? When can I expect to look like before? — T.M., New Haven, CT

A: You are describing shedding that is pretty typical following a hair transplant. The hair which is shed generally grows back together with the transplanted hair beginning at about three months. You should expect hair that is shaved for the FUE procedure to grow back right away at the normal rate of 1/2mm per day.

The shedding (also called shock hair loss) doesn’t mean permanent damage to the hair follicles. What it refers to is a physiological, or normal, response to trauma to the scalp which is caused by the hair restoration procedure. In general, only miniaturized hair (the hair that is affected by androgens and that has begun to decrease in diameter) is shed after a transplant. This hair would be lost in the near term anyway. Existing healthy hair is unlikely to shed, but if it were to shed, you could expect it to grow back as the transplanted hair grows in.

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Hair Restoration Research

Study is the First to Measure Perceived Benefits of Hair Transplant Surgery

A recently published study is the first to measure the perceived benefit of hair transplantation on a patient’s age, attractiveness, successfulness, and approachability – key factors that play an important role in workplace and social success. The pilot study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Facial Plastic Surgery, found that hair transplant recipients were perceived by others to be 3.6 years younger following their hair restoration surgery. The data indicate that the person’s attractiveness, successfulness, and approachability also showed statistically significant positive changes as a result of hair restoration surgery.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Can I Better Understand How I Will Look After My Hair Transplant Before The Actual Procedure?

Q: How can I better understand how I will look after my hair transplant before I actually do the procedure? — E.M. ~ Wantagh, N.Y.

A: A key part of a hair loss evaluation is for the doctor to manage the patient’s expectations for possible benefits from both medication and surgery. The way we decide how to plan a hair transplant is through a careful history and examination, demarcating the extent of the hair transplant on the patient’s actual head and photographing it. When showing other photo results to patients, it is important to not only show before and after photos of the recipient area but also of the donor area; how the back of the head looks immediately after the procedure, at post-op intervals, and at different hair lengths. Most importantly, one should point out that every patient is different so that a picture of another person does not necessarily represent what you might achieve.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Propecia and/or Rogaine Mandatory after a Hair Transplant?

Q: I’ve heard that using Propecia and/or Rogaine is a good idea after having a hair transplant, but are they mandatory? — B.M., Short Hill, N.J.

A: Neither finasteride (brand name: Propecia) nor minoxidil (brand name: Rogaine) will have any effect on transplanted hair. That said, while you don’t need them to protect your transplanted hair, you will likely have original hair interspersed among your transplanted hair that will continue to thin and fall out over time. This vulnerable hair can be protected by finasteride which has been shown to reduce future hair loss significantly; additionally, you can add Rogaine for extra benefit.

However, with Propecia, you should only use it if you can commit to it long-term because it takes up to a full year to see any effect. With Rogaine, you should only use it if you can commit to using it continually and regularly – you should not stop and start it.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can A Hair Transplant Completely Replace My Lost Hair?

Q: I have a significant amount of hair loss. Can a hair transplant make me look exactly the way I did before I lost my hair? — V.S., Fairfield, C.T.

A: In most cases, the answer is no. All surgical hair restoration procedures move hair – they cannot create new hair. Specifically, surgical hair transplantation takes existing hair from the donor area (located in the back and on the sides of the scalp) and moves (transplants) them to the part of the scalp that has lost hair. It is usually the case that there is not enough hair in one’s donor area to replace all lost hair. That said, in persons with extensive hair loss, the restoration can often produce a dramatic improvement in one’s appearance.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Surgeon Determine Angle of Hair In Hair Transplant?

Q: I notice that some patients end up with hair that seems to stand straight up while others have hair that flows to one side or the other. Does the angle at which you place the follicles in the scalp ultimately determine how the hair will lie? Is there some artistic talent needed when placing these follicles so that patients end up with hair that lies flat or sticks straight up? What determines this? Do we have control over it? — H.B., Fort Lauderdale, F.L.

A: Great question. You are correct, the angle of the recipient sites largely determines the hair direction. Hair should be planted the way it grows (i.e., in a forward and horizontal direction at the frontal hairline.) It is extremely important that it is transplanted that way to look natural. The body will alter the angle a bit as it heals, usually elevating it slightly and re-creating any prior wave (yes, waves are determined by the scalp, rather than by the hair follicles per se). In a properly performed hair transplant, a straight-up appearance should be due to grooming, it should not have been a result of the actual procedure. Hair should never be transplanted perpendicular to the scalp. I discussed these important concepts way back in my 1997 paper “The Aesthetics of Follicular Transplantation“.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, is Recovery Faster with FUT or FUE?

Q: Is the recovery time a lot longer with FUT compared to FUE? — C.W., Chicago, I.L.

A: Cosmetically, the recovery for FUT is actually shorter, since the back and sides do not need to be shaved and the longer hair can completely cover the donor incision immediately after the Follicular Unit Transplant procedure. In large Follicular Unit Extraction procedures, the entire back and sides of the scalp need to be clipped very close to the scalp. It can take up to 2 or 3 weeks for the hair to grow long enough to completely camouflage the harvested area. Once the healing is complete and any redness has subsided, the hair can be cut shorter.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Long Are FUT and FUE Hair Transplants Visible After Procedure?

Q: How long are FUT and FUE visible after the procedures? — S.V., Weston, C.T.

A: The recipient area in both procedures is visible for up to 10 days. The donor area in FUT is generally not visible immediately after the procedure. In FUE, the donor area must be shaved, so that will be visible for up to two weeks (the time it takes for the hair to grow in).

Read about what to expect after an FUT hair transplant
Read about what to expect after an FUE hair transplant

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Can I Make a Hair Transplant Less Obvious Post-op?

Q: I am considering a hair transplant and would like to have the procedure and not be overly obvious about it. What are my options in hiding or concealing any redness after a week or so after the hair restoration? — R.T., Manhattan, NY

A: There are a number of factors that can make a hair transplant obvious in the post-op period. These include the redness that you are asking about, but also crusting and swelling.

Redness after hair restoration surgery is easily camouflaged with ordinary make-up. At one week post-op, the grafts are pretty secure, so that make-up can be applied and then gently washed off at the end of the day. Since the recipient wounds are well healed by one week, using make-up does not increase the risk of infection. At 10 days after the hair transplant, the grafts are permanent and cannot be dislodged, therefore, at this time the makeup can be removed without any special precautions.

Usually, residual crusting (scabbing) presents more of a cosmetic problem than redness, but can be minimized with meticulous post-op care. Crusts form when the blood or serum that oozes from recipient sites after the procedure dries on the scalp. Although it is relatively easy to prevent scabs from forming with frequent washing of the scalp after the surgery, once the scabs harden they are difficult to remove without dislodging the grafts.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What Length Is Hair After Transplant?

Q: Is transplanted hair the same length as existing hair? — G.E., Buckinghamshire, UK

A: The hair is first clipped to about 1-mm before it is transplanted. The transplanted hair will look like stubble for the first few weeks after the hair restoration procedure. It is then shed and the newly transplanted follicles go into a resting phase for about two months.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, What Is Recommended Hair Length To Hide Scar?

Q: I never kept my hair really long, what length can I wear my hair after a hair transplant to hide that I had a procedure? — D.F., Chappaqua, N.Y.

A: Hair transplants, whether using the strip method to harvest the donor hair or by extracting individual follicular units one-by-one directly from the scalp, will leave some scarring. If the hair is long enough so that the underlying scalp is not visible, these scars will not be seen.

The quality and density of a person’s donor hair will affect this coverage and determine how short a person may keep his hair. In some cases the back and sides can be cut to a few millimeters, in others it would need to be kept longer. Since there is no scarring in the recipient area (the front and top of the scalp where the grafts are placed) the hair in these areas may be kept at any length.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After an FUE Hair Transplant at the Hairline, Will Bumps Go Away?

Q: I have had a hair transplant done in the hairline of 1,000 or so FUE grafts. However, as the hair sheds, under natural light the recipient skin seems bumpy with incisions and holes that are noticeable. Do these tend to go away with time once they have healed? — S.S., Glencoe, I.L.

A: If a follicular unit transplant is performed properly (using either extraction or a strip) there should be no bumps or surface irregularities. When the hair restoration is totally healed, the recipient area should be appear as normal looking skin.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant, What are White Specks on Scalp?

Q: After the day of the procedure, I could see what appeared as white specks on top of my scalp. Some are sticking out above the scalp more than others. I was wondering if the entire follicular unit should be at the level of the scalp. Is it normal for some part of it to be above the scalp? (I did not receive the procedure from you.) — T.C., London, U.K.

A: It is normal for the grafts to be a little elevated and you should expect them to flatten as they heal.

The effect may be exaggerated in the shower as the grafts become hydrated, but they should settle down soon after you dry off.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Tell if a Hair Transplant is Successful After Five Months?

Q: It had been 5 months since my hair transplant. I only see minimal growth of maybe a few hundred fine hairs. My transplant consisted of 2,217 grafts. Could you give me your opinion if this is normal or is it a failed hair transplant? — L.D., Miami, F.L.

A: It is too early to tell. Hair grows in very gradually with great variability from person to person.

Some patients only have a little fuzz at five months and then have great growth by one year.

You really need to wait the full 12 months to evaluate the success of the hair restoration.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After a Hair Transplant Does Hair Grow in Stages?

Q: I had my first hair transplant of 1100 grafts five months ago. The hair has been growing in well and I am very satisfied with the progress, but the new growth appears to occur in different cycles. Some of the hair never fell out and started growing within weeks. At around three months, a lot more started to grow, and now there seems to be even more growth of new hair coming in its finer stages. Is it normal for transplanted hair to begin growing at different times? Why does some hair come in looking thick and other hair start off finer and then gradually thicken up? — E.R., Bushwick, N.Y.

A: You are describing accurately how hair grows after a hair transplant. After the hair restoration procedure, the transplanted stubble is shed and the hair goes into a dormant phase. Several months later, growth begins as fine, vellus hair that thickens over time. The hair usually does not have its original thickness right away.

Typically, growth occurs in waves so that initially some areas will have more hair than others. Over the course of a year the cycles will even out and the hair will thicken to its final diameter.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Hair Transplant Grow Slower in Crown than Front of Scalp and Will Hair Grow More Slowly After Second Transplant?

Q: I had my second hair restoration procedure nearly 5 months back. New hair in the front part of the head is growing well, but the crown is growing slow. Is this common? Also does the new hair grow more slowly after second hair transplant procedure? — B.V., Richmond, U.K.

A: Yes, it is typical for hair in the crown to grow more slowly than the front and top of the scalp and the second procedure generally grows more slowly than the first.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What are Typical Hair Transplant Results?

Q: I know that I can’t get all of my hair back, but what can I realistically expect from the best hair transplants? — S.A., Santa Monica, C.A.

A: You can expect the follicular unit hair transplant procedure to be perfectly natural, that the hair restoration will be completed in one or two sessions and you should anticipate a quick and easy post-op course.

The amount of coverage and density will depend upon your Norwood (balding) class, your donor reserves and your hair characteristics.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Hair Transplant be Detectable Immediately After Surgery and What is Typical Appearance Post-op?

Q: Is it possible to have a hair transplant that is totally undetectable immediately following surgery? — G.F., Stamford, C.T.

A: Not unless a person has a fair amount of existing hair that can cover the transplanted area.

Although surgical hair restoration techniques have improved dramatically over the past ten years, and wounds are so small that patients may shower the morning following the procedure, a hair transplant will be detectable for the first week. During this period, there may be some swelling that settles down on the forehead and some crusting and some residual redness.

Please visit the section on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website entitled After Your Hair Restoration for more details. Also see the Instructions After Your Hair Restoration Surgery page regarding the normal post-op course following a hair transplant.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Long Should I Wait Before Having a Second Hair Transplant?

Q: If a second hair transplant is performed before the first had a chance to grow could the second procedure destroy the follicles from the first? — B.M., Upper East Side, NYC

A: Hair from the second hair transplant session would not damage the follicles transplanted in the first session, even if follicular unit grafts were transplanted in exactly the same spot as in the first session.

The reason to wait until the hair grows in, however, is so that you can better plan the subsequent hair restoration procedure. If two follicular units are placed on top of each other or very close together, you will essentially be creating a mini-graft and the results will not look natural.

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