Hair Growth After a Hair Transplant – What You Can Expect
Before you decide to have a hair transplant, you’re probably full of questions. Understandably, you’re probably thinking about where to have your hair transplant done, which surgeon to choose, whether to travel abroad or not and worrying whether it will hurt. You might even be dreaming about what hairstyle you’ll opt for when you’re finished.
Once you’ve decided all of that, you might start thinking about whether people will notice you’ve got a new hairline, and how quickly you’ll recover. What we don’t often think about is how quickly our hair will grow back, as part of that recovery.
Most patients come fully prepared and knowledgeable to their consultations and appointments. They’ve looked meticulously into the entire procedure and know everything from the surgeon’s middle name, to the manufacturer of our hair transplantation equipment.
The Harsh Reality of the Hair Growth Cycle
But many patients don’t have realistic expectations on how soon their hair will begin to grow after their procedure. It’s all too easy to think you’ll be donning a full head of luscious hair within a couple of weeks of surgery. After all, it’s an arduous time, sitting in the surgeon’s chair. You can be there for hours, why wouldn’t you come out looking like you’ve had hair extensions?
Well, the reality is, hair takes its time to grow. Think about the hair you have now. You won’t wake up tomorrow with it hanging by your shoulders, will you? Hair growth is a painfully slow process. (Although if you regularly remove body hair from places such as your chest, legs or underarms, it may feel as though that hair grows in seconds! As does facial hair. How many times have you gone to work with a clean shaven face, and returned eight hours later, with a five o’clock shadow??)
Deep down you know that hair takes a long time to grow. And it’s well worth the wait, we promise! A hair transplant procedure might not be as instantly gratifying as other cosmetic procedures, like Botox or collagen fillers. But it is definitely worth it. Play the long game and you’ll end up loving your new locks.
But before we understand how long it takes to grow back, first, we need to understand how human hair grows, whether in its normal position, or after being transplanted into a new position. Here’s the science behind hair and its frustratingly slow growth cycle.
How Human Hair Grows – the Hair Growth Cycle
Hands up who thinks hair grows from the ends? Hands up who thinks its from the roots? Yup, you’re right, hair grows from the roots. That is, the bit of the hair that is attached to the scalp.
Hair follows a set pattern of growth, in four distinct stages. These stages are as follows:
• The anagen stage, or growing phase
• The catagen stage, or transition phase
• The telogen stage, or resting phase
• The exogen stage, or shedding phase
Here’s more on each hair growth stage in turn...
The Anagen Stage, or Growing Phase of Human Hair Growth
This is the phase we’d all like to be stuck in. It’s the phase when our hair grows. It begins with a stage called ‘folliculo genesis’ which means follicle regeneration. Or in other words, the hair follicle which houses the root of the hair and resides in the scalp, begins to generate a new hair.
Hairs on our scalp can stay in this phase for anything between two to seven years. This means that this one hair from this one follicle, can continue to grow for up to seven years!
Obviously, we don’t just have one hair follicle on our heads. We have hundreds of thousands, all at different phases of hair growth and development. We can therefore assume that we also have tens of thousands of hairs in this, the anagen phase, at any one time. (Unless of course, we are completely bald.)
Hairs in the anagen phase often grow faster when they’re in the early stages of the phase. Although on average, human scalp hair grows around 1 to 1.25 cm each month. How quickly our hair grows is individual to all of us, and dictates how long our hair is capable of growing. The longer the anagen phase of hair growth, the longer our hair can grow.
Caucasian hair can grow up to 27 cm, whilst Afro Caribbean hair can grow to around half this length. Asian hair can far exceed Caucasian hair and can grow, and grow, and grow!
The Catagen Stage, or Transition Phase of Human Hair Growth
This stage is considerably shorter than the anagen phase. On average, it lasts about ten days. During this phase, the hair follicle that holds the hair begins to shrink, signalling that the end of this particular hair is nigh.
Sometimes, its possible to see hairs during this phase, although this is best left to the experts. Hairs in the catagen phase start to lose pigment, or colour, visible in the newest section of the hair, just above the skin of the scalp. The hair shaft also begins to thin and narrow and no new hair cells are produced, which stops its growth.
It’s referred to as the transition phase because the hair is transitioning from being healthy and able to grow, to becoming dead and ready to drop out.
Again, not all hairs will be in this phase at the same time.
The Telogen Stage, or Resting Phase of Human Hair Growth
The telogen phase is when hair is at rest. In humans, this stage usually lasts around three to four months. The hair, as you’d expect in such a restful state, isn’t doing much. It’s neither growing nor falling out.
It’s done all it’s hard work growing and then transitioning, so now it’s sitting within its follicle, just well, resting. Whilst resting, a new hair is beginning to enter the anagen, or new growth phase, ready to take its place. Rather like lour adult teeth do in our gums, before our baby teeth fall out.
At any one time, around 10 to 15 per cent of the hairs on our scalps are in the telogen phase.
The Exogen Stage, or Shedding Phase of Human Hair Growth
Alas, all good things must come to an end. The exogen phase is when these old, rested hairs, fall out, or shed. It’s perfectly normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs in a day due to this stage of the human hair cycle.
Most of the time, there’s a new hair waiting in the wings ready to emerge and grow. In the case of age related hair loss as we all know only too well, there may not be and eventually, we develop thin patches which turn into bald patches.
Noticeable thinning and balding of the scalp can also occur if the hair enters the telogen, or resting phase, of hair growth too soon. Hair loss can be attributed to many other factors too, including stress, over styling, poor diet, hormonal factors, illness and certain medications.
Can Hair Just Keep Growing?
No single hair will grow forever. We can see from these four stages that hairs are continuously emerging, growing, resting and then shedding. Therefore, the hair you have on your head now, isn’t the same hair you were born with! (Or began to grow in childhood.)
These four stages of hair growth also determine the length of our hair. You might find that if you try to grow your hair (now or in years gone by), it reaches a limit and doesn’t appear to ever grow any longer.
Celebrities, friends or family members might be able to grow their hair much longer, leaving you wondering why. Well now you know, its all to do with the phases of human hair growth! The longer your anagen phase (like so many other things, this is determined by your genes) the longer your hair can grow.
Hair Growth After Hair Restoration Surgery
So. After all that science on hair growth, we can finally get to the question in hand “how long will my hair take to grow back after a hair transplant?”
If you’re a patient soul, then this bit won’t be too bad. You’ll go home, relax and let nature (and our surgeon’s expert hand) take its course. If, like me, you’re a little (or a lot) impatient, then this could well be the hardest part of hair surgery! Even worse than sitting in the surgeon’s chair for eight or more hours!
You’ll constantly be looking in the mirror and annoying your friends / family / partner / dog / cat / postman or woman / anyone else who comes your way, asking them if they can see any hair growth.
Because you see, whether you start off the procedure with a completely bald top of your scalp, or you’re simply having your hair line made fuller, your surgeon will need to shave the area first. So you’ll leave the clinic potentially looking as smooth as the day you were born!
Anyway, here’s the good news. A hair transplant is highly successful. On average, around 90 per cent of people who have a hair transplant, will see success. You’ll just have to wait for it. Probably for quite a few months…
How Long Do I Have to Wait Before I See Hair Growth?!
Now that we understand the growth cycle that hairs go through, and given the fact it’s not really possible to tell what stage a hair and its follicle are in, hair growth can be patchy to begin with.
Whatever stage the hair is at when its’s removed from the donor area at the back of the head, it will still be in this stage when it’s transplanted into the new recipient area at the front and sides of the head. It will continue in this stage, so don’t be alarmed if new hair begins to fall out, it was more than likely in the shedding phase.
Here’s a rough guideline to hair growth after a hair transplant (remember, it’s a rough guide, we’re all different and some may be slower, or quicker to grow their hair than you):
Day zero – the day of your transplant!
Days one to five – these, along with the next ten days or so are the most important so it’s crucial that you look after yourself and your scalp . You might experience some redness and swelling in both the donor and recipient areas of the scalp, and this is perfectly normal. It’s likely that this redness and swelling will disappear from the donor area first.
Days six to fifteen – you’ll be feeling more normal by now, redness and swelling wise, but you’ll begin to notice the skin of your scalp starts to crust over and look dry. This again is normal (just like your knee would crust over with a scab when you fell over and cut it as a kid!) and all part of the healing process. When the crusts fall off (or you’ve been given strict instructions and ointments to speed up the process) you’ll be left with tiny little spikes of hair. Yay! Hair! You’ll have the look of a Jason Statham style shaved head.
Weeks two to three – these tiny little spikes might be short lived – these are only the transplanted hairs, they’re not new hairs. You might notice that they start to disappear, but don’t be disheartened, this is totally natural too. The new hair shaft is forming underneath, pushing the transplanted hairs out. Rest assured that the transplanted follicular unit is safe and sound in its new home. During this time you may still see continued growth.
Month two – Many transplanted hairs are now in their resting phase, a consequence of the upheaval of being moved. But still, don’t worry if you don’t see or feel much activity. You may also still see the transplanted hairs growing. This is a time that’s different for everyone, so no comparing yourself to anyone else, your hair is doing its thing, trust us!
Months two to three – any new hair you have seen up until now, has probably disappeared. You probably look the same as you did before surgery since your existing hair is still growing and your transplanted area is still settling in, resulting in a disappointing shedding of new hair.
Months three to six – more new hair, yay! You’ll start to see lots more hair growth, it’ll be thin, but it’ll be there. And guess what, this is your permanent new hair! It’ll be entering it’s anagen, or growth stage by now, and from here on in, you’ll be guaranteed to be excited!
Months six to nine – It’s hair growth central. You’ll see more and more hair growth and it’ll begin to blend with your existing hair. Jason Statham is out, Jason Donovan is well and truly in. You’ll be able to begin styling your hair (with care) and it’ll be feeling much thicker. You’ll notice it has texture and no longer feels like fine, baby hair. Your scalp should also be completely healed by this point too.
Year One and Beyond – It might feel like an age, but its around this time that you’ll be able to see the full extent of the results of your hair transplant procedure. After this point, the thickness and density of your hair is unlikely to improve, but it’ll more than likely still be able to grow in length. Remember, this is still natural hair, and when it enters it’s shedding phase, it will still fall out. But like any head of hair, this is perfectly normal and assuming your newly transplanted hair follicles remain healthy, there will be new hairs in the anagen phase waiting in the wings.
Life After Hair transplant Surgery
So there we have it! The answer is, it’ll take about a year for the results of your hair transplant to fully reveal themselves. Think back to a year ago, and it really doesn’t seem that bad does it? A hair transplant is definitely a confidence boost and money well spent!
If, like so many, you decide to have a hair transplant here at the DK Klinik in Antalya, you’ll have full support from our friendly, experienced and qualified medical teams throughout. They’re on hand to answer any question you have or put your mind at rest if you have any worries. It’s not a decision to take lightly, and even though we see thousands of patients, you’re all individuals and we treat you as such.
So what are you waiting for? Organise your free online consultation with us today and find out how we can transform your hair line, and your life. Could you be looking at a totally different you in the mirror in a years’ time…? Exciting thought, huh?