Waiting Patiently for Hair Growth after Hair Transplant Surgery

Question: We often hear about:
  1. Normal itching.
  2. Normal post-operative hair loss, sometimes lasting for months.
  3. Normal worsening of overall baldness/looks, also lasting for months after surgery.
What I rarely hear is a discussion of when (for most patients) hair should definitely look thicker with an informal “mirror check”, and more importantly, at what point in the post-operative timeline, continued hair loss and/or failure for implants to grow should be considered at least a partial failure of the procedure. Can someone qualified please discuss this? Waiting patiently is a virtue, but waiting with an informed timeline in hand is a virtue with an end. Answer: Excellent question! To begin with, the general rule regarding hair growth after hair transplant surgery is that it takes one full year before final results are seen. Of course, there is also some degree of variation among individual patients. The reason for this is that, after surgery, the hair follicles remaining in the transplanted follicular unit grafts will shed and, as you referenced in your question, some patients will experience shock loss of native hairs leaving them looking even balder than they did prior to surgery. After falling dormant, the majority of these hairs will begin a new growth cycle but not all at the same time. They will start to grow in a little at a time starting between three and four months post-op. Initial hair growth after surgery is normally finer and lighter in color than native hair but will eventually become darker and more robust. Also, hair typically grows only 1/2 inch per month. Thus, it can take a minimum of eight months to see any significant improvement in density after hair restoration surgery. Again, the best advice you will get is to avoid trying to assess your results until 12 months after surgery. Then, if you are still not happy, bear in mind that you may see subtle improvements up to 18 months. Beyond that, you should not expect any more changes.

David (TakingThePlunge) Editorial Assistant and Forum Co-Moderator